Deploying IoT to address challenges for county councils in the UK

As the UK recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, 2022 will be a year of recovery, and local authorities have a crucial role to play in driving this process. However, pressures continue to mount from the government to meet climate change targets, improve health care and social services, and ensure local infrastructure continues to meet growing demand after the pandemic, the all with limited financial support.

So how can technology help boards meet these challenges?

Sustainability and climate change

It is well known that across the UK we still produce masses of waste. With traditional and inefficient processes still in place for waste collection from public places and homes, this leaves councils and contractors with a huge challenge.

But by investing in IoT technology, current inefficient processes can be easily and dramatically improved, from creating an optimally efficient route to collect waste to reduce carbon emissions, to emptying the right bins, to good time, to further improve the ecological objectives. Sensor technology, for example, can not only indicate how full a bin is, but can also detect temperature and movement, to see if someone has thrown anything flammable into the container, as well as if the trash can tips over or is misplaced. This information can then be used to create a data profile, which in turn will provide a more efficient collection schedule and also identify sensitive areas with potential problems, including fly dumps.

Additionally, the technology is becoming more efficient in determining the different types of waste, especially in underground storage, which can be useful for recycling efforts. By deploying IoT solutions, sensors can verify the amount of glass in a specific container, comparing the sound “signature” through smart algorithms for different types of waste.

IoT can further help municipalities and contractors plan ahead by knowing how much waste they will collect, real-time monitoring of waste in the garbage truck itself, which can help the company to forecast costs and/or revenues. In turn, this has the potential to revolutionize payment models for contractors who are paid by weight.

With heavy air quality regulations coming into force and as we as a society strive for a greener future, local authorities need to be more proactive and involved in the health of their citizens. By monitoring environmental elements such as pollution levels, CO2 concentrations in offices and classrooms, and chemical pollutants, environmental monitoring will become a big part of our indoor and outdoor future.

Integration of health services

The IoT healthcare market is expected to reach $188.2 billion by 2025, driven by the pandemic and the growing focus on patient-centric services. It is clear that technology can transform industries, helping to reduce the burden on primary, acute and community care, as well as local councils. This was highlighted at the height of the pandemic, with NHS hospitals implementing virtual clinics and remote monitoring technology to care for patients at home, while focusing on constant COVID-19 cases. increase. IoT technology has enabled the use of health and care devices to collect valuable, real-time data to provide patient care inside and outside the hospital, while keeping them connected to healthcare professionals. The data collected makes it possible to automate the mapping of activities into a profile around an individual, which can then be analyzed and shared on a daily basis with the healthcare organization and the local community.

The patient’s ongoing health and vital signs can be recorded at home, such as heart rate, blood pressure and temperature, meaning clinicians’ time can be spent elsewhere, improving the efficiency of existing processes. Specialists can be alerted when deterioration or health issues are detected to allow immediate intervention and provide targeted care. Targeted intervention allows expansion of existing resources and rapid return on investment in assistive care technology. By reporting any problems earlier and preventing problems from escalating while the person is at home, the need for them to go to hospital for check-ups or treatment is in turn lessened, reducing the pressure on public funds.

The technology can also be used to reduce inequity or variation in care by identifying patients who may be at risk and have not seen their GP, or those in rural and remote areas, enabling d interact with and monitor people in places that have always been harder to reach. IoT technology has dramatically improved accessibility and productivity in healthcare, while keeping patients safe and in the comfort of their homes. This provides a mechanism to help the NHS extend its care beyond the hospital, with another significant return on investment.

Local infrastructure

With nearly 50 shops closing each day on the high street in the first six months of 2021 and dwindling footfall from shoppers in the UK, local authorities are now looking for alternative initiatives to encourage people to return to the streets main. If shoppers are looking to go to physical stores again, the parking experience should be painless, otherwise they will simply return to the convenience of shopping online.

It is estimated that motorists spend two months of their lives looking for a parking space. But what if this could be reduced through the use of technology? What if an individual’s mobile device were to notify them in real time of the location of a parking space? Better yet, what if this space could be reserved, or set up a subscription model to park monthly? It’s about collecting data and making better and more informed use of that data. By integrating electric charging and disabled bays, as well as the use of innovative technologies, the redesigned and revitalized parking solutions will increase council revenue and provide more efficient and enjoyable services for customers, thereby regenerating the shopping experience in shopping streets.

Rising cost of living, energy and fuel poverty

At the time of writing these lines, inflation had just crossed the 5.5% mark and is on the way to surpassing 7%, a new record. Oil and gas prices are rising, impacting the cost of raw materials and transportation costs, energy to heat the house, shopping basket prices, etc. The current economic climate creates a painful set of circumstances for everyone, but especially for seniors, low-income people and families who have had one or both partners lose their job during the pandemic.

It has been reported in the media that in several cases vulnerable people are already making choices between heating or eating, which is a serious concern for all. Many of these vulnerable citizens live in social housing, so what can IoT technology do to help them?

Specifically in the case of energy poverty, monitoring temperature and environmental conditions in vulnerable households, as well as boiler energy consumption, will create an energy use profile, highlighting the population that needs targeted interventions to help with fuel bills and other aid that the local authority has available. Smart radiator solutions can also be implemented to heat the parts of the house that need it at different times of the day, resulting in energy savings and better living conditions. Collected IoT data could also profile and identify potential dwellings that exhibit insulation, leaks, and other structural issues that affect the integrity of dwelling assets and prioritize intervention. The business case for this type of technology intervention is already proven by ongoing projects in the UK.

Conclusion

IoT technology is evolving to meet ever-increasing challenges and demands. Not only are we seeing a resurgence in interest and use of these solutions, but the technology itself is becoming more cost-effective, adaptable, and easier to deploy and maintain.

The COVID-19 crisis has prompted an increased need and priority for local councils to be forward-thinking about how digital technology and data can help cities recover now and strive for the future. to come up. The value of IoT technology and the real-time data it collects is recognized and will help inform better decision-making, introduce early interventions and reduce the cost of changing practices. But for this to work in practice, a significant cultural shift is needed in the relationship local governments have with technology. Technology solutions should be designed around the user, creating a better customer experience, while ensuring that all potential barriers to adoption are removed. The guiding principle for deploying technology as an enabler of these more streamlined processes is simplicity and invisibility for the user, while collecting valuable data for better understanding.

Image credit: Gustavo Frazao/Shutterstock

Nick Sacke is Head of IoT Solutions at Comms365.