Agencies finding more uses for sensor technology

A Forrester Research analyst says green IT and other inititiaves will expand the use of sensors in federal activities.

Several agencies are now using sensors for a wide range of projects. The General Services Administration will use sensors to measure the energy efficiency of green buildings. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Status and Trends Network  has sensors across the United States measuring ground ozone and other pollutants. The intelligence is being fed into, which makes government data available to the public.

More federal agencies are or will be adopting sensor technology to gather data, particularly for green initiatives, according to the forecast of a market analyst.

While U.S. military agencies were quick to adopt the technology for security purposes, civilian agencies have been slower to see the need. That is changing, according to Forrester Research, due to a rise in environmental concerns and because of the lower cost of technology adoption. The sensors can monitor temperature, location and similar types of data.

"What we are seeing in the market is a new generation of technology that is built around the idea that small, smart networked chips are cheap enough that you can put them anywhere," said Andrew Bartels, a vice president and principal analyst who specializes in federal information technology spending for Forrester, quoted in a NextGov article.

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Other agencies using the technology include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Transportation Department. NOAA uses sensors in a wide variety of projects, including tsunami monitoring technology that provided detailed and accurate reports within hours about what potentially affected communities should expect in Chile’s earthquake earlier this year.

DOT has several sensor technology programs underway, including using sensors for bridges, traffic signals and roadways.