As digital business expands, governments are using technology improvements to create better cities. The Internet of Things (IoT) has created great opportunities for cities to become more livable. As more “things” become connected and aware, governments can use analytics to add value for their citizens. We’ll take a look at some scenarios where the IoT can improve everyday life. But first, let’s look at how collaboration throughout an organization creates value.
How ecosystem networks and collaboration create value
The IoT works with sensor data in a wide range of fields. The technology helps get good data on how a connected device is working in various situations, and that data allows organizations to apply the insights they learn to their operations and processes. By analyzing automated sensor data from assets, organizations can make sure the delivery of critical services and the functionality of critical infrastructure are optimized.
Here are some scenarios where an IoT-based strategy could add value for governments and citizens.
1. Traffic control and parking
Why is it called rush hour when nobody goes anywhere fast? Good question. But with digitized traffic control systems, that may be changing. Most people are aware that GPS systems can provide multiple routes with suggestions based on traffic. Digitization of traffic controls uses input from traffic feeds, road construction, and road closures to reroute traffic for a shorter commute.
They can also adjust transit schedules to account for more accurate arrival and departure times. Cities are using GPS and sensors to update transit schedules to encourage the use of public transportation. Parking garages can monitor how many open spaces they have available, reducing time spent searching for a parking spot. In fact, some of these systems will interact with your car to direct you to an open space. Sensors built into bridges help cities prioritize replacement of aging bridges based on performance instead of a standard timetable.
2. Green living and sustainability
Another area where the IoT is impacting city life is sustainability. Over half our planet’s population now lives in urban areas. This creates ecological problems. Trimming excessive carbon emissions from transportation and higher energy use are a focus for governments worldwide. What are some examples? IoT-enabled assets can connect through the Internet to a utility, which can then optimize power use during non-peak demand times.
For example, the city of Chicago has deployed an array of sensors to track air quality and sidewalk traffic on a block-by-block basis. Glasgow is tracking crime and traffic issues to improve safety and congestion. The sensors also track noise and foot traffic to best determine areas that need improvement.
3. Smart cities
There’s a new type of connected city on the horizon. It’s a smart city. By definition, it’s a city that uses digital technologies to enhance quality of life in urban areas. This technology is being implemented not only in cities but also on many college campuses. In both cases, analytics from data sources can help deliver insights that can drive better decisions on policy, programs, and tactical needs.
So what cities are adding which features? We thought you’d never ask. Here are a few great examples. Los Angeles is adding responsive behavior to its traffic lights to reduce congestion. New York City is placing sensors to detect garbage amounts in bins so full bins are collected on time. Long Beach, California, has added smart meters to prevent illegal watering during times of drought. Boulder, Colorado, is implementing smart grids so consumers can look at their energy use in real time. Porto, Portugal, is installing Wi-Fi hotspots in the city’s 600 buses and taxis, creating the world’s largest Wi-Fi hot spot. Copenhagen uses IoT sensors in providing 20,000 LED street lights with renewable energy. Santander, Spain, uses over 12,000 sensors in refuse containers to cut their energy and waste management costs by 20-25%.
The future of the connected city
So what can we expect down the road? Many cities are developing mobile applications to help job seekers, tourists, and transit riders find the information they need quickly. Ports are being updated to provide superior infrastructure and supply chain operations. Big Data is providing simulation opportunities in emergency response, economic growth, and maintenance requirements. Public transportation loyalty programs in Montreal are now focusing on providing suitable entertainment opportunities.
Connecting networks creates serious data growth that requires a new platform to process it. Are you ready to bring your organization into the digital revolution with cross-agency and department data sharing that helps you reach better outcomes? What challenges do you see in the process?
About Regina Kunkle
Regina Kunkle is responsible for the State and Local/Higher Education (SLED), as sub-industry of the U.S. public sector industry, at SAP. Regina is dedicated to helping governments transform to respond to changing regulations and citizen needs, streamline and simplify processes, and share vital information across agencies for enhanced decision making and performance.