In the age of IoT : exploring public sector smartness

Abstract: Smartness, which is emerging as a desirable attribute of governments, cities, and communities, has received heightened attention from researchers and practitioners. Smartness is a technology-centric view in which it is postulated that the public sector can become more resilient by adopting emergent technologies that improve efficiency, equality, citizen-centricity, transparency, collaboration, and security, thereby shaping the public sector to meet new demands and expectations. However, this novel technology carries several risks. The public sector may downplay the risks of implementing new technologies and the subsequent changes required for its transformation. Consequently, a more nuanced view is required to understand how the public sector can implement new emergent technologies. The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a significant force behind the push for smartness in the public sector. IoT is considered as the next radical evolution of the Internet towards a network of connected physical objects that enable interaction and data collection from the physical world, thereby providing data analytics and improving service delivery. Indeed, the development and use of IoT have exploded across the globe, affecting individuals and their interaction with their surroundings, as well as the manner in which businesses and governments operate. Unfortunately, limited information systems research on the transformational power of IoT technologies has been conducted. Therefore, it is necessary to understand how IoT can enable a smarter public sector. Although there is no doubt that IoT technologies can enable smart cities, the use of the technology by the public sector to reap the benefits thereof has not been studied sufficiently. The aim of this research is to offer insight into the use of IoT at the local government level and to conceptualise the created smartness.This dissertation consists of a cover paper and a collection of four research papers that are appended to the dissertation. Each research paper contributes to a better understanding of IoT, its applications, and its benefits for public sector smartness. Two multi-site case studies were conducted on IoT use within the public sector in Northern Europe to provide further insight.This research outlines the areas of IoT implementation in the public sector in Northern Europe. Several key application areas exist within the smart city sphere, in which IoT is widely used to enable smartness. Transportation and infrastructure are the most prevalent application areas for IoT, with more than half of the participating municipalities applying IoT. However, other areas of critical public services, such as education or care and support, lack IoT solutions. The findings demonstrate that the expected results and wide-scale IoT adoption differ significantly from the results of previous theoretical research, and that IoT systems do not meet public sector needs, particularly sectoral needs.The research concludes that the public sector is in its early stages of IoT implementation, namely exploring, prototyping, and piloting. Therefore, it is essential to provide solutions that satisfy the basic requirements of the public sector to support the use of IoT in the public sector and to transition towards smartness. However, this is complicated by the broad spectrum of conditions in which local governments find themselves, and no unique paradigm of smart city evolution exists. Furthermore, the study highlights the transformative potential of IoT in the public sector by identifying four distinct means by which IoT enables a smarter public sector: an increase in contextual awareness, the possibility of data-driven value creation, the reimagination of organisational structures, and innovation-oriented financing. The findings suggest that IoT enables smartness, provides both internal and external benefits, and is created through a combination of technology, people, and organisations. Furthermore, the smartness framework allows for the identification of the specific outcomes of applying emerging technologies to public services. Finally, this study demonstrates ethical perspectives relating to IoT in the public sector that must be considered and proposes means of addressing them. That is, it is proposed that it is crucial to concentrate on purpose limitation, data control, and data management to address the restrictions relating to ethics. In this manner, the study contributes to the discourse on ethics by suggesting practical methods for addressing ethical perspectives arising from IoT.