My dad loves his gadgets, especially when it comes to cooking. I couldn’t name half of the contraptions and devices he has bought that are now floating around the family kitchen. And each one seems to have a new electronic component, like his barbeque skewer that digitally conveys the temperature and other data about the steak he’s grilling. But what if this data could be used further? What if this digital skewer was connected to other devices in a smart kitchen and helped you make better eating choices?
With the Internet of Things, these ideas are no longer hypothetical questions and are now realities. And these realities affect both the personal and professional aspects of our lives. On Thursday’s GovLoop training Enabling Analytics in the Age of the Internet of Things, we joined Informatica to talk about leveraging data and analytics in this new era of the Internet of things. Panel experts included Dr. Joseph Ronzio, Special Advisor to the Secretary of Health Information Technology for the Department of Veteran Affairs, and Bobby Caudill, Director of Public Sector Marketing for Informatica.
As we move into a world where practically everything is connected and capable of generating data, it’s necessary to think about data in terms of the information’s value to you, your constituents, and your agency. With the ever-growing power and sophistication of analytics engines comes the need for more, and better, data. Predictive and prescriptive analytical models that drive better decisions and automated processes thrive on such data.
Ronzio focused mainly on health information technology. According to him, healthcare is heavily influenced and restricted by regulation and laws. It is provider-focused and financially driven, and the data that is collected today captures on a fraction of a patient’s life.
In the age of the Internet of Things, healthcare can become more customer-focused. For healthcare to remain relevant, it must be consumer-centric. Consumers need to be asked about lifestyle choices and become involved in program development. Healthcare is changing as new industries enter the arena. Others are entering the healthcare space. A person can receive flu shots and access pharmacies at convenience stores and supermarkets. Labs are being more segmented, and other businesses are entering the lab landscape. Insurance companies are investing in studies about making better lifestyle choices and prolonging lives rather than focusing only on covering the medical costs of insurance carriers. These are all tactics that are enabling healthcare to remain relevant in the future by providing a more consumer-value-driven approach.
Ronzio listed a number of examples where IoT can support the healthcare field. One example was implanting monitoring chips in diabetic people. The chips will monitor diabetic insulin and blood sugar levels consistently over time, which is much more reliable and pleasant than sporadic finger-prick blood tests.
Another example of the IoT influence on healthcare is ingestible cameras. To replace endoscopies, there are cameras that patients can swallow to take photos of the entire digestive tract and detect any abnormalities. Doctors can do this instead of cutting patients open. As these key technologies are more efficient and becoming a larger part of the medical field, they will help prolong healthier lives.
The realm of possibilities for healthcare in the age of the Internet of Things is seemingly endless. Technologies can lead to better predictive health alerting, such as heart attack and seizure prevention and mitigation. Also, by connecting devices, public health advice can be in sync with a person’s individual location and based on both personal and public health data. For example, if a person is walking by CVS while using his iPhone, he could get an alert from the store pharmacy that his prescription is now ready to pick up. The healthcare experience will be tailored to the individual and his needs. Data will also help project behavior changes that will improve health and extend lives.
Caudill spoke during the second half of the training with a more general exploration of the Internet of Things as well as proper data management techniques. According to him, the fundamental characteristics of IoT technologies were immediacy, relevance, simplicity and context. Utilizing open data and internet connectivity enables faster action.
One scenario he proposed was the convenience of walking into a grocery store and being shown via mobile device on a building map exactly where in the store you must go. Another one of his favorite IoT device examples was a smart, internet-connected refrigerator. In theory, a smart fridge knows its content, and the user can set up the system to organize and track her life (i.e. menus, location, etcetera). Her smart phone can also transfer data to the same life system that the fridge sends data to. As she comes home from work, the fridge and the phone recognize this daily pattern, and she can be alerted that she is short on certain ingredients needed for a specific recipe before returning home.
Caudill asked audience members to imagine what could be done by continually collecting data. Data collection enables predicting of the future as well as empower users. Many public services, including transportation and public safety, can be improved with open data and taking advantage of the interconnectedness of the IoT era. As for businesses, a customer could walk up to a store clerk that already knows why the buyer is in the store prior to asking for help.
Caudill finally stressed that enterprise data management is the key to deriving value from IoT. When considering enterprise data management, Caudill suggests key areas of capability your agency should be considering. These include data sources, data acquisition, data integration, data aggregation and applications, data delivery, and data consumers. His final recommendations for your agency’s analytic requirements were: 1) think “data first”; 2) design for speed without compromising; 3) design for data as a shared service; 4) design to know everything about your data at a meta level; 5) automate your routine processes; and 6) use technology to accelerate more complex processes and enable these automatic routine processes. He ended by emphasizing the importance of your analytics environment obtaining accurate and relevant data in a clean, safe, connected and immediate way.
To learn more about enterprise data management, make sure to attend Informatica’s annual Government Summit on Thursday, April 23, 2015 at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel.
For more information on enabling analytics, check out the complete archive here.
Also, download GovLoop’s guide, The Internet of Things: Preparing Yourself for a Connected Government.
Featured Image Attribution: Mike McCune