Technology is best experienced when invisible but with benefits that we can quantify in the real world. Beyond the creation of systems that are made and deployed to make our day to day transactional lives better through automation and removal of middlemen and other such bottlenecks, we need to start looking beyond the quality of service – QoS to the Quality of Life – QoL.
Broken down, quality of life looks at the aggregate average of elements that passively affect our happiness index and there is no better example than the internet of things as applied to a smart city initiative. Imagine the numerous things that you do every day without a second thought and how, apart from faith, we really have no checker mechanisms to back up the blind confidence with which we interact with our environment.
Under smart cities, I will pick on healthcare to better explain my call to start shifting attention from business process automation to the next component of the ecosystem for local government and other invested publics. There are many applications of the internet of things from hydroponics, animal tracking, logistics, industrial control, agriculture that may strike a chord with niche audiences but good health is a universal want that underpins the development of any economy.
Healthcare is one of those agenda items that rank highly on the manifesto of any political vehicle looking to come into power, but unfortunately is always addressed from the expensive side of things which leans on the curative, requiring heavy capital investment in physical infrastructure and drugs.
Prevention is better than cure and what better way to ensure that a working population remains productive than ensuring that the quality of what is ingested or breathed in never gets to critical levels? Is the quality of water from the hundreds of boreholes and wells in a city like Nairobi monitored? What about the air quality across the city from the CBD, to the industrial parks and the housing estates? Noise pollution is one of those that many feel come packaged with urban life, but this should not be the case.
It would be great if the county government (s), at least those with cities under their dockets, would know salient details of our work environment such as air and water quality or noise pollution to allow for better planning of work and living environments and to mitigate against any risks that may be identified from the data derived of autonomous sensor environments.