The internet is an important part of our world today, especially now that many of the devices we interact with daily connect to it. The Internet of Things (IoT) industry is rapidly growing, with the smart home industry expected to reach 53.45 billion in worth within the next five years. Of course, there are many opportunities outside the home for IoT to revolutionize processes.
Municipalities and the utility companies they work with, stand to gain substantially from implementing internet-connected devices. Urban population, climate change, and environmental regulations all demand significant changes.
The benefits of employing smart solutions cannot be denied. From the ability to curb global warming to the use of real-time data to monitor, analyze and better respond to citizen’s needs.
Smarter Cities with Better Data
One of the many ways municipalities can use IoT is through traffic and parking management. Analyzing real-time patterns using different types of sensors and GPS data from drivers’ phones can help determine how many vehicles are on the road, how fast they are going and their location. This can also ensure that emergency vehicles and first responders can get to an incident at a faster pace.
A great example of this in action is the Toronto Intelligent Transportation Systems Centre, which uses smart traffic signals to improve traffic. These lights connect to a cloud platform that can monitor light timings and make adjustments when necessary. Historical data can also be used to make predictions on where traffic is likely to go and take countermeasures to prevent congestion.
IoT-enable technology helps to identify and predict street light outages, instead of waiting to replace them when they go out. This makes replacing lights more efficient, therefore saving time and money. Adding cloud-connected sensors to lights helps adapt lighting schedules as well, for example, data can be gathered on illuminance and vehicle movement in combination with historical data to improve the schedule. With this exceptional amount of data collection, streetlights can adapt to current conditions such as turning off when there is no traffic, or turning them on before an expected rush.
The ability to monitor utility and energy usage is another great benefit of IoT technologies. For example, 68 buildings in downtown Charlotte, N.C. are all connected into a network that analyzes energy use. Another interesting instance is bringing smart meters to households, which when combined with smart thermostats, can give utility companies a great look into consumer patterns. Smart metering can also ensure accurate billing for water, energy, and gas.
Especially for areas that deal with water shortages, IoT improves metering, detecting leakages, and can aid in planning and distribution. Analyzing the incoming data from water meters will allow municipalities to identify potential issues and combat additional water loss.
Water and air quality tracking can prove extremely beneficial for municipalities as well. For example, to ensure proper pH levels, the amount of dissolved oxygen and ions, IoT sensors connected to the cloud can be deployed across the water grid for better management.
For better monitoring of air quality, sensors can gather information on CO, nitrogen, and sulfur oxide levels in key areas such as busy roads and manufacturing plants. Air quality maps made from these analyses help understand pollution while also giving citizens recommendations.
Big Gains Coupled With Big Risk
IoT creates a smarter, more connected city and the range of use cases are practically endless. However, with the expansion of connected things comes many security risks – both physical and cyber.
To learn about the security risks of IoT, read part 2.