Integration & APIs 5 mins read

Government can prevent taxpayers’ pain

Running an enterprise of any size efficiently is a challenge; when it’s the UK government, the challenge takes on unimaginable proportions.

Steve McReavy Steve McReavy

In 2019, the UK Government was responsible for approximately £840 billion of public spending, which UK taxpayers would prefer was spent as effectively and efficiently as possible.

But running an enterprise of any size effectively and efficiently is a serious challenge – and when that organization is the UK government, the challenge takes on almost unimaginable proportions.

Take buildings, for example. The UK government is the largest property owner and manager in the country. From prisons to hospitals, military bases to town halls and police stations, the scale and diversity of its vast estate is breathtaking.

In addition, it has an equally diverse asset portfolio, with millions of assets ranging from photocopiers to nuclear submarines. Oh, and it also has to look out for the best interests of just over 65 million citizens. Faced with such complexity, how do you manage and operate this in the most cost-effective manner?

There’s clearly no single silver bullet; but making better use of your data will almost certainly be at the heart of any effective initiative. Digital technologies will enable you to break down information silos that exist across internal IT applications, enabling more contextualized analysis and more effective decisions.

However, to fully realize the value of the information, data retrieval must take place – not just across IT applications, but from all your organizations’ assets in the physical world.

Smart buildings

IoT technologies can enable your governmental department to develop its own digital nervous system, enabling you to acquire information at the extremities of your operations and to develop a deeper situational awareness; an overall understanding of “what is going on?” Feeding this information back into your organization drives better decisions and actions.

How? By making the most of your budget and pruning unnecessary expense. By placing sensors in your buildings or utilizing the ones you already have, you can determine occupancy and monitor ambient conditions to have more optimal control of HVAC and lighting. It also helps you to achieve more objective assessments on the utility of the premises in the longer term.

Embedding sensors to monitor energy usage across the estate enables you to verify energy efficiency improvements with greater insights into the usage of energy. These insights can enable your organization to take part in “demand side response” initiatives with energy providers, where they provide you with access to cheaper energy tariffs and payments in return for commitments to reduce consumption at certain times in the day. Monitoring water usage with remote sensors not only enables more efficient usage but can mitigate the effects of flood damage.

These so-called “smart building” initiatives are often attributed with long term savings of 20-30%. Not a bad saving when just one of your government assets has an annual utility bill in excess of £500 million.

Smart asset management

The government is, in a significant part, a logistics organization. When the stakes are as high as they can be, for example in the British Armed Forces, they need to get the right things to the right place, at the right time. But how can you ensure this is done, and preferably done at the least cost?

If broken vehicles are delivered to an operation and cannot be fixed because parts are unavailable, the Army would be in trouble. By outfitting the vehicles with appropriate sensors, you can enable the constant monitoring of each vehicle’s health. And, by using advanced analytics, you can determine an impending failure in advance and link this directly and elegantly to the supply chain.

Predictive maintenance systems have been shown to reduce the cost of maintenance (12%), reduce the risk to personnel (14%) and prolong equipment life (20%). They also improve asset availability and give your organization the priceless gift of time… time to plan and prepare how you are going to make a repair before the asset fails.

If you need a speedy repair, it’s essential to know where the critical replacement parts are. When assets are attached to location-aware inventory sensors, you waste less time looking for them, and are less likely to unnecessarily purchase new assets when you can’t find them. This means not only can you find parts required to repair the vehicle, but you can also find the assets (other vehicles) required to transport it where they are needed.

If the parts are fragile or environmentally sensitive, additional sensors can be attached to monitor the quality of transit. In the event the asset is exposed to harsh conditions, such as excessive vibration or moisture, alerts can be sent, enabling replacement parts to be dispatched, and preventing damaged parts from being fitted to critical assets.

And of course, like all organizations, government’s greatest assets are its people. IoT can help you protect and look after them. Wearable devices can monitor your Army personnel’s vital signs to assess fitness or can monitor extremes of heat or cold and ensure closer management of personnel in risky training environments. To help mitigate the current spread of Covid-19 within the organization, social distancing apps can be deployed to automatically monitor distancing of personnel in confined spaces

Adopting secure IoT technology can significantly enhance your organization’s understanding of what is going on; a key ingredient to operating effectively, efficiently and safely.

IoT technology has been in the marketplace for some time but never has there been a better time to link it all together. At Software AG we are uniquely positioned to take the data from the sensors, provide real-time streaming analytics and link to any back-office system such as supply chain.

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