connected city (Krunja/


How communities get to IoT

What: "Internet of Things: Communities Deploy Projects by Combining Federal Support with Other Funds and Expertise," a report by the Government Accountability Office

Why: To ensure that federal investments help cities realize the full potential of internet-of-things applications that can be replicated across the nation, GAO investigated how agencies have contributed to IoT efforts, how selected communities are using federal funds to deploy IoT projects and how cities address challenges in integrating those projects.

Findings: Many government agencies -- including the National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department -- have invested millions of dollars in research and the funding of local projects, including DOT's Smart City Challenge, Chicago's Array of Things and the Chattanooga, Tenn., Electric Power Board's Smart Grid Project.

Successful IoT efforts require participation from multiple parts of government. The Obama administration's Smart Cities and Communities Task Force released a draft strategic plan in January for coordinating federal initiatives that emphasize local government and stakeholder engagement.

In its report, GAO points to a number of factors that can hinder integration of smart-city projects. Isolated activities or federal grants that focus on a single sector -- transportation, energy or public safety, for instance -- inhibit IoT project integration. Effective leadership and a federal strategy could break down such barriers, GAO said.

Proprietary systems can be another problem. "The use of proprietary systems raises confidence that the components within a system will work together, but challenges arise when communities seek to integrate systems from different vendors, perhaps across sectors," GAO's report states. That challenge can be overcome through the use of standards-based and open-data platforms that support broad projects.

Resource constraints also limit integration of complex IoT projects because cost-conscious communities tend to invest in smaller projects that are easier to deploy. Additionally, city officials might hesitate to spend money on a project whose scope and technology are continuing to evolve.

Read the full report here.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a former reporter for GCN.

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