In general, the term IoT (Internet of Things) refers to the rapidly growing number of digital devices – the quantity is now billions – these devices can communicate and interact with others over the network/internet worldwide and they can be remotely monitored and controlled. The IoT includes only smart sensors and other devices. On the operational level of IoT, for example weather data is collected. IoT offers new opportunities for cities to use data to manage traffic, cut pollution, make better use of infrastructure and keep citizens safe and clean.
Advantages of IoT
Companies use IoT for innovative management and for monitoring widely dispersed processes. As a result, they even can control the latter even from distant places as information is continuously fed into applications and data storage. IoT provides an advantage of knowing things in advance. Due to the low cost of IoT, it is now possible to monitor and manage activities that were previously unreachable. The financial aspect is the best advantage, because this new technology could replace humans who are in charge of monitoring and maintaining supplies. Consequently, costs can be significantly reduced and optimized. IoT also makes it possible to gain completely new insights e.g. associating weather influences to industrial productions.
Role of the smartphone in IoT
- IoT for the average person is the smartphone because it is going to be everywhere and everyone carries a smartphone all day
- We use it for a large number of daily tasks to interact with other smart devices
- Interaction with IoT using a smartphone simply because this is the computing platform that we are most likely to have with us at any point in time
- Concerned that something is not quite right with our IoT-enabled device (e.g. when your own car got a “Check Engine” light), we will be able to run a professional vehicle scan diagnostic tool from our smartphone to read diagnostic trouble codes which is cheaper than bringing it to a professional car mechanic to diagnose the problem
- IoT means that consumers will have more options when it comes to smart devices (interaction with those devices through the smartphone)
- More possibilities like connecting your smartphone with a washing machine to get a graph to see the water usage and electricity over the past few weeks/months
- In all, every IoT device such as washing machines, refrigerators or cars are able to send and receive data to specially configured servers on the Internet – they are able to connect and communicate over the Internet
Understanding the role of smart city and its components in the IoT era
Tokyo, the city with the world’s largest population density keeps growing and boasting the largest number of people of all the cities in the world. Japan’s capital is the largest urban area worldwide with a population of more than 38 million people (38,050,000 people). In addition, more than 31 million people (32,275,000 people) live in Jakarta, Indonesia and around 26 million in Delhi, India. According to forecasts, 60% of the world’s population will live in major cities by 2030.
The consequences: freshwater scarcity, pile of garbage, collapse of traffic and air pollution. How can we cope with these challenges? One key is Smart City - the networked and intelligent city. It stands for better quality of life and lower consumption of resources. Here are five components of the smart city and their impact in the IoT era:
1. Smart Infrastructure
- Cities must create the conditions for continuous development: digital technologies are becoming increasingly important, urban infrastructures and buildings must be planned more efficiently and sustainably
- CO2 emissions should be kept as low as possible for example investing in electric cars and self-propelled vehicles
- Smart cities use intelligent technologies to achieve an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly infrastructure
- Smart lighting should only give light when someone actually walks past them like setting brightness levels and tracking daily use to reduce the need of electrical power
2. The City Air Management Tool (CyAM)
- Siemens has developed a complete, cloud-based software-suite “The City Air Management Tool”: Captures pollution data in real time and forecasts emissions
- Forecasts up to 90% accuracy is possible to gain the emissions for the next three to five days
- It is the prediction of air pollution with the measurement of the effectiveness and the technologies that are used which make the City Air Management tool unique
- The prediction is based on an algorithm that works with an artificial neural network
- CyAM is a cloud-based software suite with a dashboard that displays real-time information on the air quality detected by sensors across a city and predicts values for the upcoming three to five days
- Cities can choose from 17 measures to simulate the next three to five days (effects of the air quality for the upcoming three to five days)
- Consequences: Introduction of new environmental zones (low-emission zones), speed limits or free public transport
- CyAM is based on MindSphere, Siemens' cloud-based, open operating system for Internet of Things (IoT)
3. Traffic Management
- Challenge for large smart cities is to optimize traffic
- Los Angeles: As one of the busiest cities in the world, the city has implemented an intelligent transport solution to control the traffic flow
- Pavement integrated sensors send real-time updates of traffic flow to a central traffic management platform which analyses the data and automatically adjusts traffic lights to the traffic situation within seconds
- It uses historical data to predict where traffic can go – everything without human involvement
4. Smart Parking
- Intelligent parking solutions identify when a vehicle has left the parking area
- The sensors in the ground report via smartphone the driver, where they can find a free parking space
- Others use vehicle feedback to tell precisely where the openings are and nudge waiting cars towards the path of least resistance
- Smart Parking is reality today and does not require complicated infrastructure and high investment making them ideal for a mid-size Smart City
5. Smart Waste Management
- Waste management solutions help to optimize the efficiency of waste collection and to reduce operational costs and better address the environmental issues associated with an inefficient waste collection.
- Waste container receives a level sensor; when a certain threshold is reached, the management platform of a truck driver receives a notification on the smartphone. The message appears to empty a full container, which avoids half empty drains.
Future IoT Applications
Here is a glimpse of futuristic IoT devices.
1. Vision Van of Mercedes-Benz
Vision Van of Mercedes-Benz is a van concept for urban areas and is characterized by several innovative technologies on board such as an autonomous drone delivery. The drone can deliver autonomously within a radius of ten kilometres. Another advantage would be that the parcel carrier saves a lot of time – while loading and delivering. As a contrast, manual-loading takes up to an hour and a half and at one-shot loading it only takes about five minutes. The delivery on the last mile is shortened by the automation technology in the hold and the drones delivering parallel to the deliverer by up to 50%.
2. Smart Eye
The smart eye technology is very similar to Google’s most ambitious project – the Glass. The smart eye is equipped with sensors, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to provide options and accessibility features right in front of your eye but without causing a distraction. This technology makes it possible to read messages, surf the internet and more.
The future of IoT is unlimited. It provides solutions in all sectors including manufacturing, fashion, restaurant, healthcare, education etc. Smart cities can share a common smart city platform, which makes sense especially for small cities. The cloud-based nature of IoT solutions for Smart Cities is appropriate by sharing a platform based on open data. Small cities can form a common urban ecosystem. In this way, solutions of small and large smart cities are networked and controlled via the central cloud platform. Finally yet importantly, the size of a city is not an obstacle on the way to becoming "smart". Cities in each group can benefit from intelligent technologies.