IoT Could Help Local Government Cope With Budget Cuts

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Vodafone research claims smart lighting and energy apps could save local authorities money and improve public services

M2M technology could help local councils cope with budget cuts while improving public services, according to Vodafone, which says many councillors are unaware of the benefits that the Internet of Things (IoT) can deliver.

The operator claims the adoption of smart lighting and energy management alone could help authorities save a combined £402.3 million or five percent of the £8 billion reduction in local government budgets.

A ComRes survey commissioned by the company found there was strong public support for the adoption of M2M – particularly with regards to smart traffic management systems – but there was a lack of awareness about the technology among local authorities.

Energy savings

Leeds city night lights 4G wi-fi © Morgan Rauscher ShutterstockOf the 629 urban councillors polled, two thirds said they were unfamiliar with M2M, despite a general recognition of the importance of technology.

Vodafone says it saved 29 percent of its total energy bill after it introduced smart energy management at 200 of its sites. On the basis that UK local authorities spend £750 million each year on energy, a 25 percent reduction would result in £190 million worth of savings each year.

Smart lighting systems, which brighten when they detect a person or vehicle is nearby, could save £52.9 million on energy costs and £161.9 million on maintenance if they were applied to all 7.5 million street lights in the UK. This projection is based on figures from the Association of Public Service Excellence and a “conservative” 20 percent saving.

“Among the small amount of councillors who are familiar with M2M, almost all of them (83 percent) feel the technology will be important in delivering better services and improved value to the community,” said Mat Key, director of sales and commercial at Vodafone. “If we can help more councillors understand the possible savings and the benefits, then we have a real opportunity to help local councils improve the services for their communities, as well as free up more budget to be reinvested in front line services.”

Public acceptance

The survey found 85 percent of more than 1,600 urban residents would support the adoption of smart energy systems and 80 percent were in favour of smart lighting. However 88 percent said they wanted smart traffic light systems that would respond to smart traffic light systems that automatically react to the flow of cars and 57 percent would support investment in applications that made it easier to find a car parking space.

“The benefits that are already being seen by the private sector, other markets and some local authorities are just too significant for urban councillors to ignore,” added Key. “We recommend that urban councillors find out more about M2M technologies to see how they can improve the services that matter most to their residents while making budgets work harder.”

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