In today’s high-tech world, from weather to power generation, sensors and measurement tools are almost standard equipment for infrastructure, municipalities and organizations to have access to a lot of interesting data. All of that data can be pulled together to create relevant information.

As a recent article about the Industrial Internet on by Timothy Chou explains, the key is to deliver actionable results. Chou is a great evangelist for this vision and outlines some of the possibilities.

There are a number of areas where municipalities can harness the potential of a platform such as IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center. One of the more interesting areas with tangible results is emergency management and response coordination. Our current system (911 call and dispatch) can seem almost archaic when compared to its potential.

Currently, someone reporting an accident or similar emergency calls in, is placed on hold if the operators are all busy and then has to verbally describe the who, what, when, where and how of the situation. Given that more than 50 percent of people in the United States are now making those calls from smartphones equipped with multiple sensors, couldn’t we be doing a better job of instantly capturing many of the specifics we now require people (often dealing with some kind of trauma) to detail?

If multiple people are calling about an emergency, the myriad data from all of their smartphones could help create an incredibly detailed picture of the situation the responding team will encounter.

Is it easy to harness data in this way? Of course it’s not. Just because you have data doesn’t mean it’s simple to glean actionable results.

At Element Blue, we have almost a year’s worth of data on water, power, weather, soil and more from the conservation efforts at Desert Mountain, a golf course and residential community in Arizona. But it’s still a challenge to come up with valuable insights that save energy, money and time. It will likely continue to be challenging to ascertain those types of insights until this type of technology evolves.

The bottom line is it takes time to develop the right use cases, examine data, work with customers and produce actionable results to prove your investment is making a tangible impact. However, if you have the foresight to start embracing these technologies now, you’re more likely to be way ahead of the curve when your system is fully in place.


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