Local Government Magazine

The next decade of IoT

NZ IoT Alliance report spells out opportunities for councils

What’s not to like? In the next decade, better use of IoT could bring our country economic benefits worth $558 million in transport and logistics. Then there could be $128 million in city infrastructure management and $27 million from managing car parking in cities. 
Kriv Naicker is executive director of the recently-formed NZ Internet of Things Alliance.
He talks with Ruth Le Pla about how the Alliance could help local authorities.
Earlier this year the government set a new target to have 90 percent of the country’s lakes and rivers reach swimmable water quality standards by 2040. Currently just 72 percent meet the standard. Kriv Naicker, executive director of the recently-formed NZ Internet of Things Alliance, reckons sensors, automation and robotics could make a substantial contribution towards that target.
But wait, there’s more. For councils, the Alliance is about much more than water.
Kriv pitches the new group as a one-stop shop for consolidating councils’ understanding of efforts to date in the sensing environment. That spans transport and logistics, smart city initiatives, environmental concerns, waste minimisation, emergency management and more.
“The Alliance wants to break down some of the sales pitches from a lot of companies and get down to the crux of what the value is for cities.”
The Alliance itself is still very much in its infancy. Launched by then-Communications Minister Simon Bridges earlier this year, it released a major new report just a few months ago. Among other things, the report provides anecdotal and case-based examples of where internet of things (IoT) can add significant value to local councils.
In its report Accelerating a Connected New Zealand the Alliance notes that Wellington City Council, for example, intends to make its non-private IoT-generated data open to third parties to find new value by reusing that data. “Data is the new currency and can easily be monetised.”
The same council is also experimenting with using stereoscopic cameras to count people at different choke points in the city. “A city can use data to start to understand the economic return on public events,” the report notes.
Wellington is also using data collected from sensors to create evidence-based policy on highly-charged and often contentious issues, such as homelessness.
Meanwhile, Porirua City Council’s Works Depot unit has 31 response vehicles fitted with the EROAD fleet management system which also functions as an emergency response tool.
And Auckland Transport has been running a pilot to connect electronic school zone safety signs – traditionally operated manually via a short-range radio frequency link – to an IoT network. This provides an easy way to see if the safety signs are working or not.
Kriv tells Local Government Magazine the report investigates what’s happening in both supply and value chains. “It takes stock of the scale of opportunity in terms of GDP growth in some of these areas and where IoT could lead us.”
Totting up the opportunities, the report identifies at least $2.2 billion in net economic benefit to the country in the next 10 years: all this from better use of IoT.
“One of the big opportunities for city councils right now is the transport sector,” says Kriv. “These opportunities lie in journey management, journey planning and helping with identification via various sensors: biometric, atmospheric and environmental.”
The big deal lies in the data collection. “If, incrementally, we added many more data points from sensor collection into the decision-making processes, how much more relevant does it make information-sharing to ratepayers, tourists and businesses? And what’s the value of that increased level of information?”
Kriv says IoT provides a much more granular and effective way of managing entire systems.
“Looking at emergency services or transport or general safety within the city, the collection mechanism on the back of these sensors just makes the information available to all people that engage with city infrastructure a lot richer.”
In a recent press release, Kriv says the country can quickly learn from other nations. “We can use sensors to monitor water quality, water levels, nutrient flows and other metrics, analytics to quickly understand what is happening where on the farm, and automation and robotics to adjust delivery of nutrients and water to reduce impact on waterways.”
He notes Californian avocado growers have used soil moisture sensors, analytics and water automation systems to reduce their water usage by 75 percent.
Back on local soil, he says a water sensor that will allow people to check the health and safety of waterways has recently been tested on the Manawatu River near Palmerston North.
And he says the advantages of being able to remotely track, IoT-monitor and then report on the condition of a herd of cows or flock of sheep or quality of water “introduces huge efficiencies” for modern farmers.
“They can be alerted to various scenarios in advance and save both time and money by not having to patrol and survey, using satellite technology to receive information in a proactive fashion.”
Kriv says good examples of companies providing sensors for the quality of lakes and rivers include Riverwatch Water Tester in the Wairarapa, Waterforce in Canterbury and KotahiNet in Wellington.
“In addition, Spark, Vodafone, Thinxtra and Kordia are rolling out IoT water management solutions,” he says.
The Alliance’s recent report puts potential savings from better use of IoT in water metering alone at $25 million over the next 10 years.
Kriv sees the report as a catalyst to bring IoT sector players together and get local councils involved in pinpointing changes, opportunities and solutions.
“It’s about breaking down some of the barriers to adoption of those solutions… The report sets a baseline to take stock of where IoT is at currently and the potential to drive economic growth.”

This article was first published in the October 2017 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.

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