Governance and New Technologies: The Challenges of a Digital Future

Will the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence improve the governance of our cities? This question is asked by Kankanhalli, Charalabidis, and Mellouli in their study “IoT and AI for Smart Government: A Research Agenda.” Recently, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence have been considered major sources of innovation for homes, cities and industries.

The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to the systems of digital interconnection between physical objects that collect, process, and share data, and communicate with the surrounding environment. The huge amount of raw data obtained from cars, smartwatches, appliances, etc. represent a new frontier in the smart government of our cities. Analyzing and understanding this data can present an insurmountable challenge so Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms and technologies are fundamental as they can extrapolate meaning from raw data.

Smart government brings citizens closer to the system, making public services more efficient. Using IoT and IA in smart government result in improved quality and efficiency in the management of the energy network, the transport network, as well as health and public safety.

The study by Kankanhalli, Charalabidis, and Mellouli lays out three challenges facing the application of these technologies into governance.

  1. Interoperability – there is no single and coherent technical standard for connected devices which creates an incomplete technological ecosystem
  2. Protection of privacy and data security – all devices are subject to hacker attacks which could compromise the functioning of the network itself and cause theft of personal and public data.
  3. Environmental and social sustainability – on the one hand the IoT can make the management of public services more efficient, but on the other the diffusion of connected electrical devices will require a greater use of electricity


These technologies are important for our future, but there is no regulatory or research framework in place at this time. Due to this, we propose a research program on the application of IoT and AI technologies in smart government.