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How smart cities & IoT (Internet-of-Things) will change our communities

How smart cities & IoT (Internet-of-Things) will change our communities
Smart City Drivers BII

People continue to flock to cities for several reasons, such as employment opportunities, lifestyle, and more.The latest U.S. Census Bureau data showed that all but one of the 20 largest cities in the U.S. experienced population growth last year. And with the exception of New York City, the 15 cities that had the greatest population growth were in the southern and western portions of the country.

As this migration continues, cities will need to become more efficient in order to keep up with the surging population. Thus, smart cities will start to become the norm in the major metropolitan areas of the world.

But what is a smart city?

Quite simply, smart cities use Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as connected sensors, lights, and meters to collect and analyze data. The cities then use this data to improve infrastructure , public utilities and services, and more.

Below, we’ve outlined how smart cities provide a more efficient and higher quality lifestyle for their residents, and the methods they use to reach these goals.

Smart Architecture and Infrastructure

Building managers throughout the world are more frequently looking to incorporate IoT devices and solutions into their infrastructures in order to reduce costs and improve the quality of their buildings.

A recent survey from Daintree Networks found that almost 60% of building managers in the U.S. are familiar with the IoT, and 43% believe the IoT would shape how they operate their buildings in the next two to three years. One area with massive potential for improvement is in lighting, as building managers could switch to LED bulbs in order to save money and energy.

Another area is elevators, where the need for greater efficiency is shocking. IBM noted that in 2010, people in New York City waited a total of 22.5 years for elevators. As a result, Allied Market Research expects the smart elevator market to nearly double from $12 billion in 2015 to $23 billion in 2020.

Arguably the greatest implementation of smart architecture and infrastructure is smart grids, which help tremendously with resource conservation. The European Commission expects that 72% of consumers in the European Union will have smart electricity meters installed in their homes by 2020, and 40% will have a smart gas meter.

Amsterdam, for example, has been experimenting with offering home energy storage units and solar panels for households that are connected to the city’s smart grid. These batteries help lower stress on the grid at peak hours by allowing residents to store energy during off-peak hours. The solar panels also let residents sell spare energy from the panels back to the grid.

Smart City Projects & IoT Applications

The Amsterdam example is just one of many, particularly in Europe, which is leading the world in smart city development. The EU has been proactive in encouraging its member nations to develop smart cities, and the European Commission has allocated 365 million euros for this purpose.

And the efforts have already started to bear fruit. Paris debuted an electric car sharing program called Autolib in 2011, and has since grown the fleet of vehicles to 3,000. The connected vehicles can be tracked via GPS, and drivers can use the car’s dashboard to reserve parking spaces in advance.

London announced earlier this year that it would begin tests on a smart parking project that would allow drivers to quickly locate parking spaces and remove the need for lengthy searches for an open spot. This, in turn, would alleviate urban traffic congestion. The U.K. capital also plans test electric car and bike-sharing programs.

Meanwhile, Copenhagen has started using sensors to monitor the city’s bike traffic in real time, which provides valuable data on improving bike routes in the city. This is crucial, as more than 40% of the city’s residents commute by bike each day.

North America has lagged behind even though it is the most urbanized region in the world, with more than 80% of its population in urban centers. Still, there are plenty of smart city projects up and running in these nations, specifically with regard to public safety and traffic.

New York City has tested gunshot detection technology in police precincts in Brooklyn and the Bronx, and the mayor wants to expand this testing around the city. Camden, New Jersey has implemented similar tech.

New York City also piloted a connected car program in 2015 with the goal of learning where drivers make frequent hard brakes or sharp turns because of traffic. Officials could then use this data to improve road conditions and alleviate traffic.

Finally, San Diego has started using cameras built into connected streetlights to monitor pedestrian traffic and reroute cars during peak hours to avoid pedestrian accidents and alleviate congestion.

The Future of the IoT and Smart Cities

The potential of smart cities is nearly limitless, and the growth of these cities should only accelerate in the coming years. But this is not the only area that the IoT will profoundly change in the near future.

That’s why BI Intelligence has spent months putting together the best and most detailed compendium on the IoT: The Internet of Things: Examining How The IoT Will Affect The World .

To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the IoT universe, choose one of these options:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the fast-moving world of the IoT.

Source: Business Insider




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Building a smart city infrastructure: the key role of APIs and microservices

How APIs, microservices and visual interfaces can be best used to build the smart city of tomorrow

spaghetti junction
Streetlighting provides a useful backbone for smart city efforts

Smart cities are big business. According to a report published in July 2017 by analyst MarketsandMarkets, the global smart cities market is projected to grow from $424.68 bn in 2017 to $1,201.69 bn by 2022 – a compound annual growth rate of 23.1 per cent.

Sensor-based Internet of Things (IoT) technology is underpinning this growth, and an important aspect of this is streetlighting. Existing streetlights are a key pillar of smart city development as they are already connected to a power source and their shape and height allows them to perform the role of an antennae for the sensor network.

Other sensors can then piggy-back on the streetlight network, connecting with each lamp to send their data using low-power communications. This is enables a smart city network to be developed without the authorities having to install an extensive new array of powered sensors across the city.

By utilising the existing infrastructure cities can realise significant environmental and operational benefits, while saving public money. Typical applications include improving drainage systems; ensuring bridges are safe and looking after green spaces.

The success of such endeavours is dependent on the effective analysis of vast volumes of sensor data. That makes it critical to implement a technology architecture capable of handling mass data flows – and supporting the smart city of tomorrow – by enabling the collation, ordering and visualisation of this data; data which might relate to pollution statistics, road surface conditions or drain levels.

The role of APIs and microservices

Here, we review how three critical areas of this architecture – application programming interfaces (APIs), microservices and visual interfaces – can be best used today to build the smart city of tomorrow.

On the sensor side of the process, the city authorities will typically use specialised APIs as the providers will generally be building data models that are specific to the sensor data. However, on the application side APIs must be much more flexible in order to bring multiple data sources together in a single system. If the application interface is too rigid, new API endpoints will need to be developed to pull each new type of data into the system, adding cost and time to the process of integrating sensors into a single central data hub.

However, irrespective of how versatile the application-side APIs are, there will always need to be some level of transformation of the data from device-specific APIs into delivery application ones. Moreover, this transformation needs to be carried out at scale and on demand. That is where a microservices approach comes in, in which large applications are developed from a suite of modular components or services.

One key role of microservices is as a data filter. If you consider the vast data volumes being collected by smart cities through sensors, microservices can help to filter inconsequential data and then transmit significant data to the right places, which then allows data analysis to happen at a more general level.

For example, an authority may have implemented multiple sensors to measure temperature variations across the city. Microservices and event-driven processing can provide a valuable service here by reducing multiple measurements into key notifications of predefined threshold being exceeded. It is easy to imagine similar approach being used to monitor noise and air pollution too.

Scalability is a big advantage of microservices. They can be quickly scaled up – when multiple sensors all decide to send data at the same time, for example – but they are relatively inexpensive because they typically run for only a few seconds at a time and users only pay for the time they are in use.

Another plus is that microservices are easy to deploy. They are also typically easy to write and maintain.

Data analysis and operational workflow

Once the microservices have completed their work, the data is passed through smart city application APIs for processing. At this point, the application needs to have a strong visual interface that helps the authorities understand and make sense of the data that has been collected.

That’s where the visual element of the interface in this connected asset infrastructure is so important. Dashboards need to be in place. Strong iconography and colours can be used to differentiate between data items or link one item with multiple other similar items for example. To further drive user engagement, user experience and usability elements can be built into the interface further encouraging users to interact and play around with it, establishing patterns, analysing the results of data enquiries and driving new insights.

Insights alone are, however, of little value in building the smart city unless they ultimately result in concrete actions being delivered. To close the loop, rules need to be put in place that trigger immediate actions, such as a service engineer call if a street light fails, or a maintenance visit if a drainage gulley is overflowing.

This workflow element is critically important to the success of any connected asset management approach within the smart city – and it must never be neglected if the data analysis carried out by the system is to result in tangible operational efficiency, environmental and safety benefits across the city as a whole.

Fulfilling the potential

The potential for smart cities is clear. IoT technology is helping to drive enhanced connectivity between assets. The authorities are using an architecture consisting of microservices, APIs and visual interfaces to make use of this connectivity to collate, order and visualise key data. By analysing patterns and trends in this data they can achieve insight into a wide range of issues affecting the smart city and use that insight to make cities safer, more productive and generally better places to live.

Manish Jethwa is chief technology officer at Yotta


One Response to “How smart cities & IoT (Internet-of-Things) will change our communities”

  1. Jim Lneuenschwander says:

    From Jim Lneuenschwander:
    Here is a link to read more:

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