The modern city is facing a myriad of challenges. Our climate is changing, affecting access to resources like water and food. Cities need access to increasing amounts of energy to support urban dwellers. Urban populations are growing and growing older. Infrastructures are aging and coming apart due to insufficient maintenance. Cities are producing increasing amounts of waste. In order to overcome these challenges, humanity has turned to technology - specifically the Internet of Things (IoT).
What is the IoT? IoT refers to the myriad of devices, such as cameras, cars, sensors, GPS devices and appliances, that are connected via the internet. These devices exchange data and gather information. This data can be put into effect in various ways. In some cases this data is used to improve their operation, while in others it’s used to automate processes, minimising or removing the need for human intervention. These developments have led to the birth of the concept of the Smart City.
The Smart City
The exact definition of the Smart City may vary depending on who you speak to. However, the common idea around the Smart City refers to the use of IoT technology in an urban area to improve how a city functions. Nokia highlights the areas that IoT can improve and how they can be improved in their report How smart cities can improve our lives:
- Energy - Smart buildings, condition-based maintenance, remote outage notification and smart waste management.
- Utility - Water treatment, water management, equipment monitoring/control and hazardous materials emergency response.
- Vehicle - Smart parking, parking enforcement, vehicle detection, mobile payments and EV charging.
- Transit - Intelligent rail and transit solutions, fleet management, asset tracking, mobile payments and smart roads.
Let’s take a look at a three examples of Smart improvements to your city: smart buildings, smart water management and smart roads.
Before we have smart cities, we need smart buildings. But what exactly makes a building smart? There are many ways to improve the operation of a building. Here are a few of them:
- Automated heating control - By configuring your heating so that it only functions at certain times, you are able to reduce your overall costs.
- Control of your lighting systems - A single switch can be configured to activate or deactivate all lighting in the building, or individual lights can be turned on and off remotely.
- Notifications - Sensors can detect when you have left windows and doors open and notify you accordingly. Or, if you're away and something happens, a message can be sent to your security company.
Smart Water Management
Smart water management is also a key feature of a smart city. Mark and Focus discuss the following water management factors that make up a smart water management system in their article Smart city, smarter water management:
- Water sensors - These will measure flow rates across the network to identify leaks, and to check water quality.
- Smart water meters - water meters are obviously already in use, but these will be able to provide people with their usage in real-time, as well as provide them with their usage relative to others. They will also be able to warn people about excessive usage so they can better educated about their water use, or they can bring someone in to check for a leak.
- Easier billing - water meters will be connected via IoT to your water provider, which gives them immediate access to your water usage.
While the modern road is perfectly good at what it does today, there is no doubt that there is room for improvement, particularly as electric vehicles become more commonplace. Here is one of the ways technology will be used to improve our roads:
- Sensors - Sensors in roads will be used to gather a variety of information, such as driver performance and traffic flow, or to provide warnings about hazards, such as ice and oil spills.
TERALINK Solutions is a M2M and IoT provider that can provide you with the expertise and equipment you need to equip your smart city. For more information regarding this service, contact TERALINK Solutions and book a call.