Smarter Analytics for Smart Cities

smarter cities
Cities are beginning to, and will continue to, integrate technological dynamism into municipal operations, from transportation to infrastructure repair and more.

- TechCrunch

 

Did you know that 66% of cities have already invested in some sort of smart city technological infrastructure that enables them to collect, aggregate and analyze real-time data to improve the lives of residents?

66 percent of cities have invested in IoT

Smart cities – those that use IoT sensors and technology to connect components across and city and derive data that will improve the lives of citizens – are on the rise. In fact, the smart city industry is projected to be a $400 billion market by 2020, according to McKinsey.

But smart cities come with their own set of challenges. As we’ve covered previously on this blog, IoT is driving a data explosion across almost every major industry, and the same is true of smart city IoT components. The volume, variety and value of IoT sensor data is a new frontier for city managers, and they need better tools to help them turn this IoT data into actionable insights.

DVmobile helps companies develop custom IoT solutions and manage IoT analytics through robust dashboards that deliver centralized data in real time. And, for the first time ever, we’re applying our IoT expertise to the smart city market.

International Light Fair 2018 logo

At LightFair International last May, we presented our version of a fully interconnected smart city dashboard. In partnership with Visionaire Lighting and Arrow Electronics, we re-envisioned what a city monitoring interface might look like - demonstrating how various IoT sensors and lights can be connected to present disparate smart city data within a single dashboard.

 LFI is the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show and conference

LFI is the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show and conference

 
 
DVmobile client Visionaire Lighting logo
DVmobile Partner Arrow logo
 

Our solution gives city managers the ability to assess and monitor “smart” municipal operations throughout their city within one easy-to-use interface. With our dashboard, city managers can access up-to-the-moment information on lighting, Wi-Fi, air quality, water usage, energy consumption, crime reports and more, simultaneously.

 Our dashboard solution was demonstrated at LFI 2018.

Our dashboard solution was demonstrated at LFI 2018.

Delivering this wide variety of data in one consolidated dashboard empowers cities to better manage their operations, plan for outages and service updates, and serve the citizen population.

Ready to see how DVmobile can help your organization or city make sense of its IoT data? Need a new IoT solution for your organization or municipality? We’d love to connect and show you a demonstration of our IoT development and analysis capabilities.


 
blog author Shawn Davison CEO DVmobile

Shawn Davison

CEO of DVmobile, triathlete, and technology philosopher.

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To hire or not to hire? We’ll help you answer that question

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Does it feel like it’s becoming more difficult to hire IT resources for your company?

It turns out that this is more than a feeling – it’s a fact.

There’s a shortage of IT talent

Problem one is that there’s a shortage of skilled IT labor. Recent reports estimate in the next two years alone, there will be one million unfilled job openings in the tech sector. By 2026, this number will grow to 1.3 million. That said, only about 60,000 people per year graduate with degrees in computer science. So there’s a clear gap between the number of IT roles and the number of people with the IT knowledge to fill those roles.

Technologists are Hard to Retain

This shortage is compounded by problem two: it’s notoriously difficult to retain IT talent once hired. In fact, according to a LinkedIn study published this spring:

  • Technology is the industry with the highest average turnover rate – 13.2%

  • UX designers had extremely high turnover at 23.3%

  • Data analysts and embedded software engineers both have an average turnover of 21.7%

“As employers and offers get more competitive, top talent is more eager to jump on new opportunities.”
LinkedIn
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In the history of our company, this is something we’ve often seen first hand. In fact, we can count several customers where our relationship as the outsourced software development partner has outlasted as many as 3 generations of internal hires.

Outsourcing at New High

There’s no doubt about it, hiring and retaining top IT talent is difficult. So difficult, in fact, that companies are increasingly choosing to outsource more of their IT functions. For example, the IT Outsourcing Statistics 2017/2018 study from Computer Economics indicates that in 2017, the IT outsourcing percentages were the highest they’ve been in the last five years. From 2016 to 2017:

  • Large organizations increased the percentage of their IT budgets spent on outsourcing from 6.3% to 8.7%

  • Midsize companies increased the percentage of their IT budgets spent on outsourcing from 4.7% to 6.5%.

  • Small organizations increased the percentage of their IT budgets spent on outsourcing from 6.7% to 7.8%

Internal or Outsourced: How to Decide

Rather than take on the effort and cost to hire (and retain) IT staff, many companies are turning to outsourced providers.

But what’s the best course of action for your company? Should you hire for an internal IT position, seek outsourced help or use a combination of both? Here are three questions to help you make that decision:

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1. Does the project require specialty skills?

If you need a specialist – whether it’s a UX designer, an IoT development expert or a cyber security expert – you’d probably be better off outsourcing the job. These tasks require highly skilled technicians with knowledge of a wide range of technologies. And they’re often not needed until a specific point in a project or when until an issue arises, so having them on your payroll full time is often an unnecessary expense. Specialty functions can be done much more effectively and more economically when they’re not in-house.

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2. Is the role/project mission critical?

If the function you’re hiring against is a core competency or key differentiator of your company, you might want to keep the position in-house. While IT providers can become highly engaged strategic partners, the purpose and goals of IT projects need to originate within your organization.

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3. Are you currently succeeding?

While it seems counterintuitive, the best time to hire and outsourced IT partner is when things are going well. This communicates to your in-house IT personnel that your company is investing in growth without grossly overburdening current staff. So if you company is doing well, but just needs more bandwidth, it might be time to consider outsourcing.

 

DVmobile has years of experience working as an outsourced development and IT partner for companies like the City of Boulder, Colorado,  Skywriter MD, Nortek and Collective Goods. For more information about how we work, let's connect. We’d love the opportunity to help you brainstorm your needs and demonstrate our capabilities.


 
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Shawn Davison

CEO of DVmobile, triathlete, and technology philosopher.

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Transforming the Relationship between Business Executives and External Software Developers   

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Imagine a meeting between a Business Executive and a new software development partner. The developer answers all the Exec's questions. They help brainstorm technical solutions to business problems. They explain the ins and outs of their process in a way that the Exec can easily understand.

  Skywriter MD is a service that delegates the administrative burden of healthcare providers.

Skywriter MD is a service that delegates the administrative burden of healthcare providers.

…Then they go off and actually deliver on the work they’ve promised. They answer the phone when the Exec calls. And they don’t walk away once the initial project is complete; they stay engaged, tweaking the product to make it more and more efficient over time.  

At DVmobile, we strive to make this “imagine...” scenario a reality for our customers.

That’s why we were delighted to hear what Tracy Rue, the CEO of Skywriter MD, had to say about our relationship in a recent interview. Here’s an excerpt of his experience working with DVmobile:


Q: Why did you start working with DVmobile?

TR: About a year ago, we set out to rebuild our platform. Our software had good core competencies, but we needed to completely redesign the functionality of the product. In the past, I hired and engaged other software development companies that created a very baseline product, and I had some bad experiences. I was often left asking, “Is the platform going to turn on today? Is it going to work? Is it going to work all day?” What sets Skywriter apart is our technology – and we just couldn’t move forward with so much uncertainty.

  "Skywriters" are virtual scribes that enter the information into EMR systems so providers can focus on their patients.

"Skywriters" are virtual scribes that enter the information into EMR systems so providers can focus on their patients.

To help us reengineer the platform, I was looking for a homegrown solution - somebody that I could communicate with, that had a methodology for developing software, implementing software, and the continued maintenance of that software. That’s why I initially chose DVmobile.

 

 

 

Q: What do you think sets DVmobile apart from previous providers you’ve worked with?

TR: From a CEO’s perspective, I like that I am able to pick up the phone and have a conversation with DVmobile that’s on my level. They speak my language, explaining their methodology in the way a CEO can understand, not from the perspective of a developer or coder.

They’re also true to their word, they move fast and they’re nimble…and when it comes to Apple App developers, they’re second to none in my opinion.

  DVmobile partnered with Skywriter MD to improve UX and modernize existing web and iPad apps.

DVmobile partnered with Skywriter MD to improve UX and modernize existing web and iPad apps.

Q: What’s the state of your product today?

TR: The impact DVmobile has had on Skywriter’s business is not insignificant. DVmobile completely redesigned our platform. They eliminated some 3rd party dependencies and made our software 100% Skywriter proprietary. They also provide ongoing maintenance. Not maintenance in terms of keeping the software going, but rather adding and subtracting things to make it a little bigger, better, and faster every single month. They’re able to push out new updates in a fraction of the time, so we can even do a fix in the middle of the day without disrupting our service.

  Tracy Rue, CEO of Skywriter MD.

Tracy Rue, CEO of Skywriter MD.

Today, we feel confident that we can extend our software to existing and new clients without having to worry about scalability or stability. I know that no matter how many users we put on our platform, our software is going to work.

Q: What do you envision for the future?

TR: We’re currently in a rapid growth phase that would have been impossible without the stable, scalable product that DVmobile helped us develop.


DVmobile is fluent in Business & Technology.  This is just one example of how DVmobile is transforming the relationships that Business Executives and organizations have with their external software developers into ones that are more empathic, more efficient and more successful.

To learn more about DVmobile’s work with Skywriter MD, check our out case example and video or contact us directly to see how we can partner with your company. For more information about Skywriter MD, click here.

 

 

Watch the full interview:

 

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Integrating Internal Teams with External Developers for Improved Agility

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According to a recent survey from Forbes and the Project Management Institute, 92% of executives believe that organizational agility, or the ability to rapidly respond to market conditions and external factors, is critical to business success. An additional 84% agree that organizational agility is necessary to succeed in digital transformation.

What does your company need to improve its agility and succeed in digital transformation? Maybe it’s some additional expertise to get a specific project across the goal line, or maybe it’s software development resources to boost an internal team that’s already at capacity. Whatever the reason, partnering with an external developer can often be the right solution for organizations that need to expand their internal expertise, capacity, and project load to remain agile and competitive.

Software Development - Exploring the Field

With an estimated 100,000+ software and IT services companies in the United States alone, there are a lot of providers to choose from. How can companies narrow down the field to determine which partner is the best fit?

 

In our experience, business leaders want a software development partner that’s proven to deliver high-quality solutions quickly. Perhaps equally important is a partner with the resources and infrastructure to take ownership of a significant project (aka: they don’t need a ton of oversight to get the work done). While these are pretty evident differentiators, one that might not be so readily apparent is how well an external developer is able to integrate with internal teams.

Integrating internal IT teams with external developers can be difficult, but it’s absolutely critical to the success of development projects. We’ve found that the most successful developers have a “team” mindset that informs how they interact and integrate with their clients.

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Three Qualities that Determine a “Good Integration” Partner

How does this “team” mindset manifest itself? Here are three qualities to look for in a provider that can indicate how well they will be able to integrate with your teams:

 
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  1. Are they an extension of your team?
    A good software development partner will fully and deeply internalize the strategy, goals and culture of an internal team. They’ll work hand-in-glove with internal resources to develop solutions, just as if they worked directly for the company rather than an outside third party.

  2. Do they have ramp up and ramp down capabilities?
    Within every project work will ebb and flow. For example, there’s always a steep bump in the initial development phase of a project, but when the project is in maintenance mode, the work level is much lower. A good software development partner will be able to scale up and scale down depending on the level of work necessary.

  3. Can they provide overflow assistance on demand?
    What happens when you’re under deadline and a critical internal resource gets sick? What if your organization has an opening on its team as it looks for the right full-time candidate? How do you fill these gaps? A development partner with a “team” mindset will step in to offer overflow assistance on-demand, helping organizations plug the holes with a resource that already has deep knowledge of the organization and its internal workflows.

 
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At DVmobile, we pride ourselves on the relationships we have with our clients. One of our most distinctive characteristics is how we approach working with client teams. We truly embrace the "team" mindset and, as a result, we have long-standing, successful relationships with clients. And our clients have access to a trusted partner who can help them be more agile and more competitive.

For more information about partnering with DVmobile, visit our homepage or contact us directly.


 
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Jamie Murphy

Marketing Strategist, busy mama & blogger extraordinaire

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Opportunities for Accessible IoT

 
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This Thursday, we celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD was started seven years ago to encourage developers, inventors, and businesses to adhere to the notion of “technology as the great equalizer” by thinking about how their services and products can best serve people with different disabilities.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 1 billion people globally need one or more assistive products. With the global elderly and disabled assistive devices market expected to surpass $26 billion by 2024, developing accessible IoT technologies is another way for companies to do well by doing good.

Opportunities for Accessible IoT

Image recognition, voice and touch control, and NLP are making our smart devices even smarter. And when they’re engineered to be accessible, they can significantly enrich the lives of people with disabilities – giving them greater independence and dignity.

For example:

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  • Amazon’s Echo gives blind and mobility-challenged people more control over their environments – allowing them to activate smart home devices, turn on music, and even make purchases online with voice control.

  • Philips’ HUE Light Bulb can be set up to help people with cognitive impairments navigate through the house or remind them about things they still need to do.

  • Nortek’s 2Gig home security devices help people with disabilities lock their doors, turn on their alarms, and even communicate with a live representative in case of emergency – all with the touch of a finger.

These products weren’t created specifically for people with disabilities, but they greatly benefit from their development.

IoT Accessibility Challenges

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While there is tremendous opportunity, implementing accessibility standards within IoT solutions is very complicated. That’s because there is no universal set of accessibility standards for IoT. Mobile accessibility is different from web accessibility, which is different from kiosk accessibility. And IoT, which integrates a tangible product with an accompanying app, website and/or web service, faces even more complex challenges.  With IoT developers have to consider both the physical and web/mobile/kiosk requirements necessary to create solutions that are accessible for all people across multiple interfaces.

DVmobile is working with our partners to understand the unique challenges of developing accessible IoT, SaaS/PaaS/PDaaS, and mobile solutions. For example, we’re well connected with the Blind Institute of Technology, the leaders in educating companies on how to hire and cultivate success for the visually impaired. While we don’t have all the answers around IoT accessibility, we know that integration and collaboration with the communities most affected by accessibility challenges is a good place to start.

To learn more about how DVmobile works to build accessible solutions for our clients, connect with us:


 
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Lauren Kenney

Digital Alchemist at DVmobile, hot salsa lover, and automation expert.

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