The proliferation of Internet connections and technologies offers a sure means of saving money and increasing the effectiveness of organizations. Québec, like everywhere, can take advantage of this in many ways. Welcome to the “Internet of Everything.”
The Internet continues to change up ways of life and doing business. Leading-edge concepts like cloud computing, mobility, and big data–to name just three–are combining to create a huge world of possibilities, thanks to the harnessing of the Web.
Network connections among people, processes, data and objects are giving rise to what can truly be called the most significant technological progress since the advent of the Internet: an environment in which practically everything is connected via networks. Cisco, seeing the immense potential hidden in these advances, has called it the “Internet of Everything,” or IoE. One major study recently carried out by the company concluded that in the public sector, the Internet of Everything can create economies, increase productivity, increase revenue (without raising taxes) and improve the services offered to citizens.
The value that the IoE can generate within Canadian government organizations over the course of the coming years is estimated to be 95 billion dollars (400 million in the private sector). For the global public sector, the estimate increases to 4,600 trillion dollars.
Given the ease with which the IoE connects people, it is easy to imagine considerable savings in transportation fees, among other possibilities. For example, each Québec-Montréal round trip done for professional reasons costs a minimum of $1,000 per person, if transportation is taken into account along with meals (and lodging), if applicable. This doesn’t even count the loss of productivity associated with the routine tasks that cannot be done.
In Québec public administration itself, at least one hundred employees make this trip on a daily basis, often only to attend a 60-minute meeting. The bill for this reaches 2 million dollars a month, or 24 million dollars a year. Imagine the total figure for all of the workers in Québec, with all sectors combined. Then imagine the collateral impact that this travel implies: slower traffic, increased road maintenance costs and greenhouse gas emissions in particular.
Thanks to the Internet and to video, it is easy today to gather several people in different regions within the same meeting, due to telepresence. All that is needed is a network infrastructure, applications, and suitable terminals. Image quality allows for exchanges to be done that are very close to in-person meetings. With a relatively modest investment, there could be substantial savings while being able to hold productive meetings.
This is the reason that Cisco, for the past five years, has not authorized travel for internal meetings. Thanks to this step, Cisco Canada has saved considerably in travel costs, not to mention increased productivity. Under these conditions, technology is not only an expense, but also a powerful means of saving.
This is also why patients in certain regions who need dialysis treatment do not have to traverse many kilometers to get to Rimouski, Gaspé or Saguenay several times a week to see a specialist. For more than a year, treatment of these patients is supervised locally by technicians, while a nephrologist can be involved via telepresence. This measure has enabled a major increase in the process of caregiving, and in the quality of life of the patients.
These kinds of opportunities for improvement will be multiplied by the IoE. Imagine prisoners and their guards going to the courthouse in a police van for an appearance before a judge that lasts only a few minutes. Or imagine residents of remote areas who, thanks to telecommuting, will no longer have to exile themselves into the big cities to make a living, which will stimulate the local economy.
According to the above-cited Cisco study, the Internet of Everything will give rise to vast possibilities in the cities. Moreover, many cities have begun to take advantage of it to offer new services to their inhabitants. This is happening in Nice, Glasgow and Barcelona. In the latter, citizens can interact with officials without having to go to city offices, thanks to video and collaborative tools.
Barcelona also uses sensors to recognize available parking spaces, and sends notifications to drivers of the spots. Various studies say that on average, 30% of cars circulating in downtown areas at any moment are looking for a place to park.
The Internet of Everything can make an effective contribution to reducing car traffic, which has become a major inconvenience, curbing worker productivity and changing the quality of life of citizens.
The possibilities of the IoE are innumerable: reducing building energy consumption using new heating and ventilation systems; remote sensing of water consumption, electricity or gas, to improve the accuracy of readings and to save money; possible management of payments imposed on drivers circulating in high-traffic areas; lowering the rate of criminality by means of smart lighting, and so on.
Managers in the public and private sectors must respond to the ever-growing requirements of their clients while their resource volumes stagnate or decline. In this context the Internet of Everything can be of great help. The IoE has the power to transform the way services are designed and information is used, to respond most effectively to the needs of clients or of the population.
To maintain the competitive character of our economy on the global scene, it is crucial that organizations work to discover and to harness the opportunities to increase their effectiveness in the era of the IoE.