AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Ask Not What Your Things Can Do For You, Ask What Your Things Can Do For Your Country

At FedTalks late last year, one of the most significant thought leadership events in the federal market, Kyle Roche, General Manager of IoT at AWS spoke to the audience about the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the ever-expanding network of physical “things” that can connect to the Internet along with the information they transfer without requiring human interaction. “Things” in the IoT sense, refer to a wide variety of devices embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enable them to collect and exchange data over the Internet.

IoT has seen a lot of hype, but it is the technological innovation in this space that makes it interesting, such as smart fabrics that can signal an emergency, sensors powered by the heat generated from the human body, and trash cans that can order your groceries. These are just a few of the innovations in IoT, but we are living in a world where everything is becoming connected and connectivity is becoming widely available. With IoT’s popularity rising, companies are inventing new ways for devices to connect.

Within the public sector, IoT is being used for areas important to us all—water, transportation, public safety, city services, smart infrastructure, and health services, for instance. Sometimes IoT can seem so large that it’s hard to get a handle on it, but let’s consider IoT devices in terms of something we can relate to: the duties of being a citizen.

What does it mean to be a citizen?

Citizens are either born or raised, native or naturalized. Devices in essence can be considered either native or naturalized as well. They are either born with connectivity in mind or altered from their original state to become connected, which is what we are seeing today. Whether native or naturalized, as citizens we have a lot of duties, including the duty to:

  1. Respect your fellow citizens;
  2. Stay informed;
  3. Defend the country if the need arises.

The connection between devices and citizens may seem like a stretch, but in the spirit of making connections, let’s walk through a few examples of how connected devices can respect others, stay informed, and defend the country if necessary.

1. Respect your fellow citizen

Just as it is our responsibility to respect the property and opinions of others, connected devices through sensors must be aware of other devices to mutually co-exist in peace. For example, a vehicle needs to know itself, it needs to know the intersection where it finds itself, the traffic lights it is facing, the flow of traffic, and the best route to get to its final destination. By sharing information, devices can accept and react to each other.  The cloud becomes a governing body on top of the connectivity. Cloud vendors, with an IoT platform, can resolve conflicts and take action across the board. The roles of society are shifting as more devices are created and becoming connected, and the cloud offers visibility into changing norms.

2. Stay informed

Being aware of your surroundings is just as key to being a good citizen as water is the key to life. There are 1.4 billion cubic km of water on Earth. If we can know more about how we use, consume, and waste water, we can become better citizens. IoT allows for smart irrigation systems that calculate the water patterns around the home, the angle of the yard, and then can tune sprinkler systems to save money. On a city-wide basis, IoT can measure the flow of pressure and can influence decisions on capital expenditures to get the biggest impact for optimizing our water.

3. Defend the country

If the need should arise, it is our duty to defend ourselves and our country. Similarly, IoT helps our first responders protect us. For example, there are devices deployed around cities to record sound and positioning so we can pinpoint a gunshot within 10 feet. Also, facial detection helps law enforcement and sensor and devices within the military to aid in full situational awareness.

Listen to Kyle’s full talk here.

Similar IoT trends are being adopted in both the private and public sectors, resulting in an inspiring array of possibilities.

AWS IoT can support billions of devices and trillions of messages, and can process and route those messages to AWS endpoints and to other devices reliably and securely. With AWS IoT, your applications can keep track of and communicate with all of your devices, all the time, even when they aren’t connected. Learn more about AWS IoT here.