When you think of efficiency and productivity, you may not think of the U.S. Post Service off the top of your head. The organization, strapped for budget and resources, particularly in the age of email, is not necessarily known for its stellar customer service. When you think of the USPS, the first image that may come to mind is that of might endless postal lines or late packages. But the Internet of Things is helping them change that.
Kelley Sullivan, Program Manager, Information Technology at United States Postal Service, presented on a panel on Tuesday’s GovLoop training about the Internet of Things, as part of a set of speakers who talked about how IoT is driving new efficiencies for government.
“Have you ever received a USPS package on a Sunday recently?” she asked the crowd. Several nodded. “Package delivery on a Sunday is an example of the Internet of Postal Things from the Postal Service in action.”
Sullivan went on to note that the USPS has 250,000 mobile delivery devices deployed throughout their network. “We create a tremendous amount of data – 39 petabytes a year,” she explained. “What that means is every single package that comes through our network, we’re tracking it at each step. This gives our letter carriers the ability to reroute and redeliver depending on the information they receive.”
An example: A letter carrier is coming to your workplace with an important package, but you’re not actually there. What if they could instead text you, letting you know it’s 50 minutes out from delivery, and you can return quickly from running your errand to make sure you’re there to sign it? That’s the power of the USPS and IoT.
Walker White, President of BDNA, an enterprise data IT company, spoke next about how the Internet of Things technology, while powerful, is only as good as the management and measurement of the devices put in place.
“History teaches us about adoption curve of technology,” White explained. “As we know, it’s slow, then fast all at once. But if you’re in an organization that needs to manage technology that is being adopted very quickly – that can lag. Good management of technology is often slower than their adoption.”
The way to remedy this? According to White, there is a way forward for management of Internet of Things — which is sure to follow the tech adoption curve of being slow right now, but picking up very fast in the near future. Walker said it’s all about data and decisions — and the first step is measurement of your devices.
“You need to just know what devices are even there,” he said. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure. So you need to know what you have out there to manage. Once you have that down, the Internet of Things will help you ID inefficiences and control costs. But it all starts with awareness and measurement.”
Finally, Chris Steel, Chief Solutions Architect for Software AG Government Solutions, spoke about how agencies need to move fast to take advantage of IoT’s efficiencies and abilities.
“IoT is not everywhere now but it soon will be,” Steel said. “It will be just like the iPad — soon it will be everywhere. When it starts it will start very fast and take off very fast so you need to be ready.”
But yet some agencies are still hesitant to invest in IoT, Steel noted. “It seems like many of them are just waiting for somebody else to start, somebody else to jump in,” he said.
But if you want to get started now, he said, you need something that will allow you to process all of that data and info in real time. “That brings us to streaming analytics architecture,” Steel said. “It’s all about being able to ingest this data and process it as it’s streaming by. Using IoT data effectively is sort of like picking out needles in a haystack as it’s running by. The data is there from IoT but many of us just can’t process it. “We need to design for scale with event driven architecture for real-time performance.”
Streaming analytics is at the core of our offerings, Steel noted, and is very important for upcoming usage of IoT: “Streaming analytics frameworks are s the basis upon which companies can manage fast ‘big data’ and the increasing impact of the Internet of Things.”