Public sector “Things” $7.1 trillion market

Toddler listening to music on smart phone

You might’ve already heard the phrase Internet of Things floating around. An in-the-know friend mentioned it in passing or that annoying brother-in-law who always seems to be a step ahead of everybody else when it comes to technology. Public Sector, get ready.

But what exactly is the Internet of Things (IoT)? The answer is simple: It’s a network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity. These objects are therefore enabled to exchange data. These objects are also uniquely identifiable and operate through the normal infrastructure of the Internet.

Here’s an example. Remember that slow cooker your sister just purchased, the one with Wi-Fi embedded? Remember how excited she was that she could turn it on remotely from work? That slow cooker is part of the Internet of Things, as are—

  • Heart monitoring implants
  • Biochip transponders on livestock
  • Cameras sending live feeds of glacier movement
  • Vehicles with built-in sensors
  • Thermostats, refrigerators, and lamps
  • DNA analysis devices for pathogen monitoring
  • Electronic toll collection systems
  • Drones tracking wildfires

This sector is already large, and growing larger still. Experts estimate that, by 2020, IoT will consist of about 30 billion (with a B) objects, and the global market value of this sector will reach $7.1 trillion. Ignore at your peril.

The Role of the Public Sector

Governments everywhere—federal, state, and local—are under quite a bit of pressure to implement regulations on the IoT. They are also expected to be cooperative with the private sector. However, the regulatory framework is quite underdeveloped, since this is such a new field.

One of the primary roles of the public sector, particularly at the local level, is to establish a data hub that will gather data from a wide variety of sources in IoT. These data can include

  • Static open city data
  • Dynamic data from sensors owned by individuals, government, and private firms
  • Data about energy consumption, water consumption, and transportation
  • Data acquired through satellites
  • Crowdsourced data from social media or specialized apps.

In other words, a “City of Wheaton” mobile app is for the benefit of both citizens of Wheaton and the municipality of Wheaton. It’s a reciprocal relationship between citizens and public-sector employees (as police officers have long reminded us!). In fact, smart cities like this are increasingly the wave of the future. Songdo, South Korea is the world’s first “smart city” built on an entirely IoT framework.

Most of the world’s municipalities, however, don’t have the option of being built from scratch. Nonetheless, if you are a public-sector employee, please know that the IoT will bring many potential benefits:

  • Real-time monitoring of buses and trains and traffic analytics
  • Monitoring and operating infrastructure improves emergency response coordination
  • Healthcare efficiency increases as tracking of medical supplies is automated, and tiny sensors (perhaps placed in a person’s clothing) will detect irregularities in health
  • Child immunization management programs will be systematized
  • Public utilities will improve services via automated notification of leakages in public water pipes
  •  Personal information easily updated on electronic identity bands
  • All this barely scratches the surface of the ways that the Internet of Things will change public sector for the better.

Challenges for the Public Sector

One issue is that there is an obvious capacity gap between the public sector and the private sector. In other words, with extremely high compensation, private businesses attract the most promising minds in this field. Governments will need to find a way to address this if they are to fulfill their duties to protect the public interest.

A second challenge is that, in the past, governments have often given up their duty to serve as regulators in such new, untested areas of society. But the regulatory aspect of the public sector shouldn’t be overlooked. In fact, a report published by the FTC in January 2015 made the following recommendations in the areas of data securitydata consent, and data minimization:

  • Data security – IoT companies should ensure that data collection, storage and processing would be secure at all times. This should be baked into the design, not included as an afterthought.
  • Data consent – users should have a choice as to what data they share with IoT companies and the users must be informed if their data gets exposed.
  • Data minimization – IoT companies should collect only the data they need and retain the collected information only for a limited time.

Enforcing these recommendations is another important function of the public sector.

Suggestions for Governments

Successful regulation of the IoT does not necessarily equal punishment and fines. Instead, most of the pilot programs that have worked well have been public-private partnerships. Because this is such a multifaceted social and technological change, cooperation between the public and private spheres will be crucial.

Governments can look at pilot programs in other cities and regions of the world and determine what ideas can be adapted to their communities. Then, in their own communities, it’s better to start small. A short pilot program is recommended before launching into a larger endeavor.

Maintaining protocols and processes will be important. Because this type of large-scale data tracking is fairly new to the public sector, keeping a firm hand over the process will be vital. This will be for cybersecurity reasons as well since these honey pots are likely to attract malicious actors from around the world.

Furthermore, governments can also provide crucial investment into portions of IoT, particularly in those areas in which impacts take years or even decades to be seen. The public sector has often played this role in other advancements, including the development of the Internet itself! If you’re in that space, don’t hesitate to be forward-thinking. That’s exactly what IoT is.


Author: Richard Van Staten

Regret able

A sign on the beach saying "Great things never came from comfort zones."

It’s hard to tell someone not to have regrets. I admit I have done this. I suppose what I mean is to move forward and learn from your mistakes and not to stress too much over things that are etched in history and can’t be changed. The word itself, “regret” is so entrenched in our brain and as a part of our lexicon that it is expected that we need to have them – in a negative capacity. The question comes how consistently you have regrets and how you deal with them.


Cognitively, we are built to have regrets; a mechanism of learning from your mistakes and making corrections. Traditionally, regrets are synonymous with emotional feelings of sadness, or a disappointment, which are divergent emotions. You can’t eliminate regret as it’s in your DNA for a reason. To have no regret at all suggests that one would be psychopathic. The inability to feel or display emotion. So let’s agree that most of us aren’t that, however there are mechanisms to control regret, disappointment, without becoming “pshyco”.

Cognitive dissonance occurs when you generally have two parts of your thought processes fighting one another. The most relatable example is probably “buyer’s remorse” whereby you have seemingly, even subconsciously thought through a few major elements such as: commitment, time, and responsibility to your action and purchase. In this case it can be buying something small or large personally, or making a business decision about the purchase of equipment, software, hardware, or contracts with human resources.


I am a fan of thinking things out, thoroughly, before making decisions. But that implies that it takes time. Not necessarily true. “Thoroughly” in this case is a matter of asking yourself the right questions before making decisions and doesn’t need to parallel overthinking. That by itself may result in the adage “Analysis Paralysis” whereby you are paralyzed and make no decision at all, which ultimately translates into your mind as lost opportunities. Studies show that regrets of inaction have a much longer-term effect due to feeling a lack of closure rather than those of where action resulted in shorter-term stress effects, a sense of closure, or simplified disappointment. In short, they are easier to get over.


Find a reasonable balance and be more aware that you are experiencing a decision making process. Regret is built into us as a protection mechanism, but also can stifle you from taking any risks. Risk is patrolled in our brains as warning signs or threats equating negative connotation. Much of this is due to social standards and what we see. For example; standing near a cliff “risk of falling”, crossing the street “risk of being hit”, eating those fries “risk of clogged arteries”, taking your medicine “risk of everything bad that exists and experiencing same symptoms that are making you take the medicine”.  Lost opportunity has multiple threads. Ones that you can change, such as going back and getting those fries, and ones that you can’t change because the opportunity has passed. The introduction of risk whether planned or unplanned can also correspond to opportunity. You just don’t get beautiful green signs that you may just succeed. Consider which situation you are in when balancing risk. Believe in your capability. If you have confidence and convinced and believe you are competent, you are even more likely to succeed taking that risk. Carpe diem “seize the day”. We aren’t here forever.

Richard Van Staten

Holography coming fast(er)

Futuristic looking touch computer

Have you seen the performance of Tupac at Coachella? It’s fascinating technology.  Although it wasn’t a hologram, but it’s what we all think of as a hologram.  Sorry, I know…I just as well think of it that way as well.  No less fascinating though. It was CGI based on a technique known as “Pepper’s Ghost”, that actually dates back to the 1800’s with the use of of reflections and glass.   However, while we all (including myself) discuss Bitcoin, SaaS, IaaS, Cloud Applications, Mobile, and what celebrity has a problem this week; it’s important to recall that there are vast improvements taking place in a number of industries.  And they are happening…quietly.   Holography was developed in 1947. It has been available in a variety of simpler applications for quite some time. You are likely holding onto to it now as most currency and credit cards have holograms on them. The science behind holography is advancing quickly.  It has for example; technology and data storage capabilities well beyond what is available today in the conventional optical techniques. As computing becomes more powerful, holography is and will have seemingly infinite applications.  Keep an eye on the road ahead, not just the car in front of you.

Author: Richard Van Staten

Richard Van Staten is the CEO of Quantam, Chairman of Van Staten & Associates, and Founder of Sugarskull Software and Cypheriot. He is a public speaker and author of “Coined”, a book about Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency, and the Exchanges.