How brands can leverage the IoT and connected tech to become public servants
As we all know, the Internet of Things (IoT) holds great promise to connect the physical and digital worlds, bringing previously inaccessible data to the city and returning pertinent information to the citizen. Thus far, IoT has been predominantly deployed in private applications for specific purposes. But more and more smart city initiatives are sprouting up where cities and private industry are working together to forge public private partnerships (P3), in order to solve complex problems and bring a better overall quality of life to the residents and visitors of the city.
While this scenario is starting to work very well for some of the P3 efforts - technology and energy come to mind - direct connections to the citizen are still a struggle for the smart city. The immediate value to the citizen is not readily apparent to the general public where at the same time brands are struggling to build loyalty with the consumer. At the nexus of these two streams is a real opportunity for brands to move beyond the role of marketer to that of a public servant.
Brands such as Starbucks, Target, Amazon and Domino’s Pizza have millions of consumers using their mobile applications for real-time information, deals, promos and more. These companies have spent millions upon millions of dollars to create engaging applications consumers trust and use as part of their day to day lives.
Cities and municipalities have made similar investments in creating service-based applications supported by beacon networks that are designed to make it easier to use public transportation, provide public safety alerts or basic public service announcements. But in stark contrast to the branded apps, these City Service applications have a fraction of the user-base, leaving the and Bluetooth Low Energy beacons silent and underutilised.
This dichotomy presents a very unique opportunity for brands and cities to make a trade and leverage mobile applications and the IoT in a way that hasn’t been tried before.
The city trades the bandwidth of their beacon network in exchange for the reach and engagement of the brand's engaged mobile audiences. It is this trade that allows the brand to act as a public servant and provide a level of service beyond easy returns and free shipping.
Let’s look at one possible scenario.
Coffee brand X has a mobile application used by millions and hundreds of retail locations across American city Y. Meanwhile, American city Y has deployed thousands of beacons across the city to provide public service announcements and public safety alerts. But no one is using American city Y’s app which leaves the beacons ‘quiet’.
American city Y sees an opportunity to partner with coffee brand X and allow coffee brand X to use the beacon network in exchange for coffee brand X to allow public service and public safety notifications to be pushed to their application.
Though this partnership with coffee brand X, American city Y can push amber alerts, emergency services notifications, traffic alerts, public transportation service alerts, natural disaster mitigation strategy, man-made disaster information to citizens through coffee brand X’s mobile application. Coffee brand X is now providing a service not only to the city through their existing application, but providing a service to their consumers to keep them informed.
Imagine you’re on a subway and coffee brand X’s app notifies you that there is a disabled train two stops away so you should get off now, rather than be stuck. This gives coffee brand X, or any brand for that matter, the opportunity realise a massive increase in customer loyalty where consumers see the brand and their application as not just a mechanism for sales and promotion, but a tool for the common good. On the other end, the city is capitalising on their existing network and investment in IoT to foster innovation and make life easier for its citizens.
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their IoT use-cases? Attend the IoT Tech Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.
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