The impact of Internet of Things on modern society cannot be underestimated. In one way or another, it has enabled us to connect with our devices and our surroundings. By using this technology, cities are now striving to become “smart” instead of just being titled as developed.
Smart city solutions of IoT are focused to develop cities of future that promote economic development, improve infrastructure & environment, and digitally optimize public assets. A smart city is a collection of billions of smart devices that collects and shares information over a wide network spread across a city. These smart devices share data with each other and coordinate accordingly to ease the lifestyle of the citizens.
Cities are now leveraging processing capabilities to manage the flow of traffic, optimize utility operations, and develop automated services for the civilians. IoT has definitely heightened various city operations in terms of data acquisition and processing with the help of various sensory devices.
In fact, according to a Gartner report, there will be more than 20 billion connected devices by the end of 2020. By using these devices the smart urban services are estimated to cross the $400 billion per annum benchmark. Let us explore some components that are assisting smart cities to achieve this feat.
1) Smart Infrastructures:
Smart city solutions incorporate the use of smart urban infrastructures that facilitate the lifestyle of citizens. Below are some of the smart infrastructures that are majorly prevalent in smart cities.
Smart roads incorporate the use of sensors and IoT technology that makes driving easier and safer. These roads provide drivers with real-time information about weather and road conditions. They can also help drivers to find free parking space and prevent accidents by alerting drivers about incoming traffic. These roads are particularly useful on mountain roads where landslides are a common occurrence. Roads that are fitted with electric vehicle charging capabilities can also charge electric vehicles running over them with the help of electromagnetic effects.
Smart lights enable cities to ensure illumination in different locations based on lighting demands. These lights run on solar energy and thus harvests energy during the daytime. Smart street lights conserve energy by only turning on whenever a vehicle or person passes through their vicinity. They also reduce energy consumption by dimming out light in areas with low occupancies, like parking lots.
Smart Parking Management:
In-Ground Vehicle Detection Sensors have enabled the development of smart parking management systems. These systems help drivers to immediately identify a vacant parking spot in a mall or city center. A central parking management system uses local signal processors in parking spaces and transmits an empty parking area to the nearest vehicle. This reduces congestion in parking lots, decrease vehicle emissions, and reduce the stress a driver face to park a vehicle.
Smart Traffic Signals:
Smart Traffic Lights are a part of CV2X (cellular vehicle to everything) network. By using this network a traffic light at all times remain in contact with the connected cars. Cars send real-time information to these traffic signals, enabling them to switch lights based on the traffic conditions. This avoids the congestion of vehicles on the crossings and enables smooth flow of traffic in a city.
IoT technology is helping service providers to maintain a smooth flow of customers by instantly calculating bills and transacting money from their smart wallets. For example, a smart contract IoT solution on petrol pumps can calculate the worth of fuel consumed by a vehicle and deduct money from the e-wallets of the vehicle’s owner after they leave the fuelling station.
2) Smart Buildings:
Even buildings become smart with the implementation of internet of things. Smart buildings reduce energy consumption and enforce security in its structure. Various IoT systems also ensure proper maintenance of its assets and support the overall health of its surroundings. Some of these systems are:
Energy monitoring systems:
IoT energy monitoring solutions enable the monitoring of energy consumed by the appliances in a building in real-time. By using this information the authorities of the building can optimize the use of electricity and reduce electricity bills.
Water Level Monitoring Systems:
Smart buildings by using a water tank level monitoring system can maintain an optimum amount of required water as a buffer stock. This wireless tank level monitoring system will alert the building members whenever the level of water decreases from the threshold. By embedding this system with TDS, pH, and other sensors, the quality of waters can also be estimated accurately. This gives the building members ample time to call their municipality or a water tanker provider before the water runs out.
Safety and Security Systems:
These systems include devices like biometrics, IP surveillance cameras, and wireless alarms. These security systems prevent entry of unauthorized people in the building and allow distant monitoring of the building. By utilizing the perimeter security and access control systems, entry to sensitive and personal areas can be restricted. This reduces the chances of theft and also assists in identification of people in non-authorized locations of the building.
3) Smart Automobiles:
Benefits that IoT brings in the automobile sector are simply exemplary. IoT automotive has assisted in the development of modern infotainment systems and predictive analytics capabilities. However, the biggest applications of smart automobiles are connected cars and fleet management.
Connected and Autonomous Vehicles:
The market of connected cars is continuously booming. According to an estimate, the total number of connected vehicles in 2020 will be more than 250 million. A connected car or vehicle is a part of a CV2X network that allows it to connect with other cars, pedestrians, and infrastructures.
This network shares information related to traffic, accidents, and weather & road conditions with its vehicles, allowing them to take the shortest possible path to reach their destinations. The network also alerts the driver about traffic signals at the next crossing, toll booths, and useful nearby locations like petrol pumps and restaurants in real-time.
Vehicles with autonomous capabilities can also take partial control of the vehicle to assist drivers to glide through the traffic. The connected ecosystem between connected cars and infrastructures will help avoid traffic congestion in smart cities and regulate the swift flow of traffic on smart roads.
Vehicle Tracking and Fleet Management:
Fleet tracking solutions are used by fleet operators and managers to keep track of their fleet trucks and ship vessels. The same GPS fleet management solutions can be used by emergency authorities in a city to establish public safety. Police units can use this system to track stolen vehicles, while ambulances and fire trucks can use it to reach a vehicle on fire as quickly as possible.
Fleet management solutions also elevate courier delivery in smart cities. A fleet manager can track its fleet trucks and ship vessels to make sure that the cargo is safe and secure in every stage of its transportation. A delivery person can also connect with the smart city network to locate the address of the package receiver and the shortest distance to reach there.
4) Efficient Energy Distribution and Production:
Smart cities cannot be called smart if they don’t have a 24*7 electricity supply. Smart Grids and Smart meters use the capabilities of Internet of Things to enable the creation of a robust T&D (transmission and distribution) system. Moreover, IoT is allowing the power generation companies to optimize their energy production processes to meet the ever-changing demands of the end consumers.
IoT embedded sensors allow utilities to track the performance of power plants and other assets like transformers. This information can be used to manage the equipment in both its uptime and downtime operations. An alert is sent to the authorities to replace or repair equipment in case it fails unexpectedly. This allows the electricity provider to quickly perform CBM (condition-based maintenance) on assets and maintain an uninterrupted supply of electricity in the city.
Theft Detection and Dynamic Billing:
Smart Grids carrying IoT capabilities form a network that allows electricity providers to track the flow of electricity. Thus, identifying electricity theft via wire-tapping becomes easier for the authorities. Smart meters along with this network also allow the energy providers to track the electricity consumed by homes in real-time. Thus the utilities can bill the houses on a daily basis, eliminating any chances of fraudulent billing.
Renewable Energy Management:
Developing electricity through non-renewable energy resources result in pollution in the city. However, renewable resources completely depend on weather conditions making them variable in nature. IoT makes use of a smart transmission system and allows automatic switching between non-renewable and renewable power supply. This empowers the use of renewable energy on suitable weather conditions thus reducing pollution in the cities.
Supply Rerouting and Restoring:
Transmission lines often break due to change in weather conditions and overloading. In such cases, a locality can remain in a blackout until the fault is detected and resolved. To overcome such situations, a smart transmission system can locate another route to supply electricity to the blackout area of the city, until the fault is fixed.
5) Smart Farms:
The advent of IoT in the agriculture sector is considered as the fourth agricultural revolution. Smart farms will support the economic stability of the smart cities and allow the agricultural sector to take a boom along with the ever-improving urban infrastructure. Two of the most common applications of smart farms are:
Crop management includes monitoring of different parameters like weather, soil, pests, and the crop itself. Different IoT sensors embedded deep in the farm allow a farmer to keep a track of these parameters. This helps the farmer to produce a good yield of healthy crops.
• Weather monitoring: Weather monitoring IoT sensors detect sudden changes in climate conditions, allowing farmers to plan their subsequent agriculture process accordingly.
• Pest Detection: Pest detection sensors allow farmers to optimize the use of pesticides based on the type and numbers of pests present in the field.
• Soil Monitoring: Soil conditions like moisture, temperature, and nutrition value can be measured by using different soil monitoring sensors.
Managing the health of livestock is also important for farmers. By using GPS trackers, a rancher at all times can monitor the locations of its cattle. Geofencing technology can also be used by the rancher to gain an alert whenever its cattle cross the vicinity of the farms/pasture lands. Breeding patterns and health of the cattle can also be predicted by the use of different sensors that monitors health parameters like heart rate and temperature.
6) Smart Waste Management:
Statistics state that around 4.6 kgs of solid waste per capita are generated in cities. To collect and manage this huge amount of waste, Internet of Things offers breakthrough smart waste management solutions. These solutions are assisting municipalities to lower garbage collection costs, reduce trash overflows in dustbins, predict the amount of waste generation through analytics, and prevent the manifestation of harmful diseases and gases.
IoT smart waste management system allows municipalities to monitor the amount of garbage in the trash bins and allow them to reach it before it overflows with litter. The bins are embedded with sensors that continuously alert the municipalities about their level and location. This allows the authorities to take the shortest route to reach the bins before they overflow.
Smart Waste Management systems are allowing waste service managers to reduce their operational costs, optimize waste collection, and maintain environmental integrity to optimize life in smart cities.
IoT sensors and advanced telemetric capabilities act as a base for the implementation of smart city solutions, enabling citizens to experience a digitally optimized lifestyle. These solutions are empowering cities to enhance their day-to-day operations and are elevating the way people interact with the city infrastructures.
Various applications of these solutions in terms of utilities, infrastructures, and automated services, are optimizing cities to become safe, swift, sumptuous, and smart. With a growth in the acceptance of IoT in different fields, smart cities are going to be the next big thing.
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