‘Internet of Things’ will generate huge assets for Central and Eastern Europe public sector – forecast

While still a nascent market, the “Internet of Things” is nevertheless on its way in Central and Eastern Europe, according to Mark Yates, research manager at IDC.

The public sector will be an important driver, particularly in terms of public monitoring in cities. Over the next five years, the number of remote sensors and control modules peppering the sewers, streets, buildings, and vehicles is set to soar, turning urban areas into treasure troves of data, Yates says.

According to a recently published IDC study, the public sector will account for about 35 per cent of Internet of Things investments up to 2018.

Job one will be public safety and emergency services, as nearly every city in the region aims to increase the speed with which police intervene in crimes and ambulance crews apply triage.

Infrastructure management will also be big, Yates says. For instance, toll highways can automate payments and traffic flows; smart parking solutions will reduce congestion and increase city revenue. The Internet of Things will also automate situational analysis and fleet management for public transportation, and, through environmental monitoring, the Internet of Things enables early intervention in potential crises ranging from toxic soil and water to floods and storms.

Then there is the data. As various initiatives start to take hold (in Croatia, epayment of tolls is an option; in Hungary, it is required), data will pour into servers at unprecedented rates. It must be treated as a national asset, he says.

City, regional, and central government leaders must work closely with transportation and law enforcement authorities to pool resources and appoint an analytics team. If they do not have HPC, they can lease it. They can then run business intelligence and big data analytics to identify connections, patterns, and possibilities for new services, process changes, and additional Internet of Things deployments.

A potential barrier is data privacy legislation, which, in Central and Eastern Europe, is increasingly geared toward greater protection of personal information. Member states of the European Union, including Bulgaria and Hungary, are discussing legislation that should align national laws with those of the EU.

In Poland, key public-sector agencies focused on consumer and personal data protection say they are closely monitoring deployments of big data analytics to prevent misuse and outright abuse (much to the annoyance of retailers and telcos). Meanwhile, Russia has passed laws restricting the use of personal data for commercial purposes and prohibiting citizens’ personal data from being stored in datacentres outside of its territories.

Internet of Things data is likely to be different, according to Yates. In aggregate it is anonymous, which means it should be in line with open data policies and initiatives. But it is still early days. CEE states have made little real effort to create clear policy frameworks for Internet of Things data usage. The EU appears to have adopted a so-called soft approach, whereby it will wait for key issues to emerge then create regulations, all the while supporting research and projects through various funding sources.

Anonymous does not mean unprotected. CIOs, line-of-business managers, and auditing and watchdog groups must insist that security be a primary element in developing solutions from the beginning – ideally through project guidelines and technical standards, but also through law and the courts, if necessary.

At the very least, Internet of Things solutions must consider security an essential part of project concepts.

As CIOs develop Internet of Things architectures capable of both edge computing and centralized anlaysis, “How do we keep it safe?” should be the first question asked during proposal development. Standards need to be integated.

Whether an Internet of Things project is outsurced or done in house, engineers and IT leaders must check what standards have been codified by professional organisations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the International Telecommunications Union.

And of course, every Internet of Things solution should include some form of device-to-device authentication, secure data transfer and storage, out-of-band systems, and encryption.

The combination of potential convenience and cost reduction make Internet of Things deployments more or less inevitable. Pilot projects should be the order of the day. Elected officials, public-sector planners, and project owners that get ahead of the curve and start pushing for Internet of Things deployments can be at the forefront of turning real-time data into actions that benefit CEE citizens in the short and long term.

This comment is built around the data and exposition of IDC’s Business Strategy: Internet of Things Use and Importance Will Increase in Central and Eastern Europe (December 2014). For more information about IDC’s research into the Internet of Things either in Central and Eastern Europe or worldwide, please contact Pavla Cincerova ([email protected], +420 221 423 116) or Roman Teiml ([email protected], +420 221 423 140). Yates was a speaker at the IDC Predictions 2015 event on February 26, of which sofiaglobe.com was a media partner.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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