Emerging Technology

The Internet of government things

Internet of Things_man with globe and dollars

In many corners of the tech world, the Internet of things is an abstract concept still in the development stage. The federal government has spent more than $300 million on Internet of things-related research in the last five years, and this week officials hailed it as the next wave of innovation.

At the SmartAmerica Expo on June 11 in Washington, D.C., U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini pegged the Internet of things as a tool that could dramatically change the way government delivers services.

GSA is already using early stages of IoT technology. Through the GSALink initiative, thousands of sensors constantly monitor and measure energy use in federal buildings.

"In every building in the test, there is an average of 2,000 sensors on various points in the building. We then measure the performance data against the manufacturer’s expectations for usage to determine if the buildings are consuming the right amount of energy, and to determine whether there’s an opportunity for cost savings," Tangherlini said. 

"Just like the Internet allows people all over the world to interact seamlessly with each other, the Internet of things will allow devices all over the world to communicate and collaborate seamlessly," Park said.

On June 10, the White House hosted an event where SmartAmerica Challenge teams from across the country demonstrated their projects.

"We believe the projects in this challenge demonstrate that cyber-physical systems and the Internet of things provide significantly growing social-economic benefits, can create job and business opportunities, improve our health, our environment and can increase our resiliency in times of disasters," Park said.

The SmartAmerica Challenge was launched in December 2013 by two presidential innovation fellows at the National Institute of Standards and Technology  as an avenue for the public and private sector to explore the "tangible benefits" of the Internet of things, according to a blog post by Richard Voyles, assistant director, Robotics and Cyber-Physical Systems at OSTP.

More than 100 organizations from, industry, academic and government formed 24 teams for the SmartAmerica challenge to demonstrate how cyber-physical systems can improve transportation, emergency services, security, health care, resource conservation, and delivery and manufacturing. All 24 demonstrated their projects at the SmartExpo event.

About the Author

Colby Hochmuth is a staff writer covering big data, cloud computing and the federal workforce. Connect with her on Twitter: @ColbyAnn.

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