The Internet of Things (IoT) can provide US state and local government executives access to timely, granular and complete data necessary to support strategic and tactical decision making.

This access is an important part of the development of smart cities, according to a new report from IDC Government Insights, IDC PlanScape: The Essentials of Internet of Things Investment for Smart Cities.

The report explains the role of the IoT in smart cities and provides a planning framework that enables state and city organisations to prepare for, and respond to, the fast pace of technology transformation around the 3rd Platform (cloud, mobile, social networks, and big data and analytics).

The premise of IoT solutions is that they provide a significant return on investment (ROI) from access to new and better information.

While government can expect a financial return from efficiencies and cost savings, there are also social and environmental returns as departments and agencies are able to meet specific targets, outcomes, and policy goals.

For example, IoT solutions can help state and local governments reduce traffic congestion, respond more quickly to emergencies, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and serve the citizen more effectively.

The IDC PlanScape document offers practical guidance to help IT and non-IT government leaders justify investment in IoT solutions.

This guidance includes answers to the following:
* Why is the IoT important for consideration for investment by state and city government?
* What are IoT solutions and key use cases?
* Who are the key stakeholders that should be involved in IoT initiatives? What are their roles and responsibilities for promoting successful IoT projects?
* How can IT and non-IT leaders help accelerate investment in the IoT for their organisation?

A challenge facing state and local government around IoT initiatives is lack of education and awareness. Many department leaders have specific problems they would like to solve that would be a fit for an IoT solution, but they are not clear on what the term IoT means in practical terms, what are specific use cases, and what other cities have already tested and tried.

To help government leaders find the resources – both monetary and otherwise – to make an investment in a pilot project, IDC Government Insights recommends:

* Educate key decision makers and build support.
* Use success stories from other cities and vendor ROI and other performance metrics to make the business case.
* Aim for investment in discrete point solutions as pilots.
* Find key private sector and university partners.

“The Internet of Things is an emerging reality, and US cities and states cannot avoid the ramifications of new IP-enabled and connected devices and their potential impact on the delivery of government services and on the quality of life of citizens,” states Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, director of the Smart Cities Strategies programme.