What is M2M? Machine-to-machine means wirelessly connecting millions of diverse devices to a network for the purpose of two-way communication. In government applications, M2M allows network-ready devices to connect and share real-time data – from trash trucks to street sweepers, and parking meters to utility meters. By monitoring and managing devices remotely, M2M helps automate and increase the efficiency of many government functions.
In many industries, M2M is historically known as “telemetry” or industrial automation. You may be familiar with such M2M applications as OnStar, or the team up between Ford and AT&T to connect the new Ford Focus Electric. More and more, M2M technologies give otherwise inanimate objects a voice to provide information back to their owners and the software necessary to turn information into intelligence.
M2M Is Shaping Government 2.0
As governments, especially local communities, seek to modernize, streamline, cut costs, and move into the 21st century, M2M is an important investment in Government 2.0. Reading the meter requires just the click of a button.
Every day we see more and more parking meters going digital and accepting credit cards. But what if those meters could talk back to headquarters, informing you that a meter has expired, and the car is still parked in the space? Agencies could efficiently and effectively route parking enforcement throughout the city and reduce the resource-intensive patrol. With the right investment in resources, a municipality could conceivably eliminate parking enforcement all together.
The City of Atlanta has struggled with its parking enforcement for years, trying to find the right balance between the expenditures necessary to provide parking and code enforcement, and the income generated to the city in doing so. While the policy is a matter of governance and politics for the city, M2M applications for parking meters offer an effective strategy.
Implement longer enforceable hours? Click of the mouse. Value pricing and congestion pricing fluctuations? Click of the mouse. Automatic notification of expired meters? Data analytics for parking trends across neighborhoods, times of the day or surrounding big events? The intelligence to make those kinds of decision is possible with the technological advantage of an M2M solution.
Atlanta opted to select source it’s parking enforcement in 2009, reducing the overhead and taking advantage of private expertise in an area outside the city’s core competency. But it hasn’t been without bumps. Could technology available and more coming every day help solve the parking challenges and maintain ownership of the process?
Griffin Gets Smart Grid
Let’s look at an example where M2M has been instrumental in jumping head first into Government 2.0. The City of Griffin, GA, a metro neighbor of Atlanta, recently implemented a smart grid solution to better monitor power usage, remotely connect and disconnect service, as well as give residents better control over how much electricity they use. The city’s electric department serves 16,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers, but vies for budget dollars as any other government department.
For Griffin, a city that started out as a mill town, reinventing itself and rethinking how things are done is nothing new. Thanks to the background of its electric director, Bill Bosch, the town decided to pursue a smart grid system. Determining and measure value from automatic meter readers can be tricky. Griffin examined several systems with different applications and ultimately determined that a smart meter solution requiring no communications infrastructure was the way to go.
Griffin put the citizens in the driver’s seat for managing power consumption and made data capture and intelligence a scientific process. The smart grid solution lets customers better understand and manage their power usage. It simultaneously lets electric department remotely read, connect and disconnect service. All in all, the city is able to provide better customer service with less maintenance and potential cost savings.
With the right intelligence, the City of Griffin has been able to effectively deliver value to citizens, bring to bear the right resources with SmartSynch and AT&T. What more can you ask from your community?