The Internet of Things

Earlier this year myself and Sara Cretney went to talk to CLT / Heads of Service about the Internet of Things.

One of the outcomes of which was to share more widely with staff what this means and how we can learn more about the opportunities it offers for us as citizens and as service providers.  So this post is a short introduction to what is the Internet of things?

This short video helps to explain what the Internet of Things is.  A lot of people often talk about Smart Cities or Smart Places when talking about the Internet of Things. They are linked but they are not the same thing.

Some of the key messages we shared with CLT and Heads of Service were:

  • Affordable and consumer led
    Sensors are cheap and are available so anyone can make things ‘smart’ – with data on air quality, temperature, noise, footfall, health, activity, location and a range of other factors
  • New and innovative services
    With all this new information and access you can start to manage your physical assets – such as your home, commercial buildings, bins, streetlights and roads – more efficiently, and deliver more targeted or completely new services.

We then asked them to open a browser and search amazon (other retailers are available of course) for “sensor + internet” > one example we highlighted was the Echo Bot which allows you to record a 10 second message and when motion is detected it will play the message back. We suggested that this might be useful to people who are starting to suffer from memory loss. We didn’t suggest the council should do it but that the cost of these tools is at a point where people are already buying this for themselves.

All of this is powered by the Internet…

  • Fewer than 10 billion people on the planet
  • About 15 billion things are connected to the internet. In 5 years that number could be anywhere from 20 billion to 100 billion
  • The future is right here, right now…
  • How on earth do we begin to design and commission in this context?

We shared some examples of where other public sector bodies had already started doing things in this area – most of which are shared in this article from the Guardian and this one about the NHS and Care.

We didn’t go with an answer, we simply wanted to highlight the opportunity that this could bring in helping to redefine and reshape local services.

At a recent roundtable hosted by the Guardian, experts discussed how long it will take for all cities to become smart. In this video, Cisco’s Rod Halstead, Capita’s Catherine Howe, Innovate UK’s Niraj Saraf and Sarah Gonsalves of Milton Keynes city council, argue that smart cities aren’t about tech or data. What matters is creating fun, surprising places where people want to live, work and be healthy.  < I think this is the sort of definition that would work for most people

There is an interesting article from the Guardian which further discusses the smart cities challenge.

If you want to know more, then get in touch.

In addition you might be interested to know that Exeter City Council and its partners are developing a bold strategy to accelerate local innovation.  By growing Exeter’s economy, safeguard its natural resources, and make life better for residents and businesses, through pioneering technology and innovative use of data.  By being at the cutting-edge of technology Exeter can become an exemplar that shows other cities what is possible when partners collaborate.

More about Exeter’s vision and ambition can be found here


Carl Haggerty

All things digital - content, strategy, communications, innovation, engagement, participation, data and people

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3 thoughts on “The Internet of Things

  1. David

    As long as a responsible attitude is taken to the rights and privacy of the citizen while innovating. Too often things are done because they are possible, rather than because they satisfy a need, and end up creating unintended issues. Sensors can collect data about anything, anywhere, even if people affected by that process haven’t given consent.

    This is not demanding a stop to such use of environmental information, but is recommending that we carefully evaluate the possible effects and future ramifications of introducing such technology and connectivity, so we can design in safeguards and avoid controversy and challenges.

  2. Carl Haggerty Post author


    I agree, the shift must be to focus on solving problems not simply demonstrating how technology works for the sake of it.

    The issues of privacy, security and safeguards would then be designed in from the start.

  3. Robin James

    Hello Carl

    I am writing a Telecare Strategy for Dorset CC. I understand that you may be able to help with info about how Devon maps users?


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