In simple words, IoT (Internet of Things) refers to the internet of devices that can communicate and interact with others over the network/internet worldwide and they can be remotely monitored and controlled. The IoT includes smart sensors and devices that are integrated with them via a shared network. These kinds of devices are growing rapidly in number, the quantity is now in billions. IoT is used in several systems, for example, using data to manage traffic, cut pollution, make better use of infrastructure and keep citizens safe and clean.
In this article, we’re going to tell you 5 ways how IoT will play an important role in smart cities, in their development and operations.
IoT can be used for managing and monitoring the widely distributed devices on the IoT network. This leads to control of the latter even from distant places as data and information is simultaneously fed into software and data storage. The low cost of IoT makes it possible to monitor and handle activities that were harder to manage before and with enhanced accuracy and efficiency. IoT also makes it possible to gain completely new insights for example determining the effect on industrial productions of weather.
Understanding the role of smart city and its components in the IoT era
Today, the increasing population has contributed to creating a lot of problems. The human population is increasing rapidly and at a far more rate than cities are developing to cope up with all of their needs. Complimenting this nowadays most of the population is residing in an urban settlement or city. This puts a huge amount of pressure on the city’s resources and public services.
The consequences of this:
- Air pollution
- Unmanageable garbage generation
- Higher traffic congestion
- Scarcity of freshwater
- Poorer quality of living
But is there a way to manage all of this to reduce the problems if not completely eliminate them? Yes, one solution is Smart City – the networked and intelligent city. Smart cities are optimised for a better quality of life and lower consumption of resources. Here are the 5 ways IoT is going to play an important role in smart cities:
- Smart Infrastructure
Cities must create the conditions for continuous development and for that their infrastructure needs to be connected. Buildings can be planned to be sustainable by using sustainable building materials, solar power, high-quality air circulation, etc. Other infrastructural management for example waste generation, water and electricity management can be executed efficiently with the help of IoT. IoT can help measure and notify excess water consumption or even manage it such that water does not get wasted. Same as for electricity. Smart lighting solutions can scan rooms for people and can turn the lights on and off or, increase and decrease the brightness levels as per the time of the day. Smart sensors can even turn off electric devices to save electricity. Daily use of water and electricity can be monitored and tracked to optimise and reduce unnecessary usage.
City authorities can also use this data to keep a track of the city resources and plan how they can use this data to improve public services for example public transportations, cleanliness, health services, etc.
- Air Management
Cloud-based tools working with different devices through IoT can be used to capture pollution data in real-time and forecast emissions and air quality in real-time. Forecasts made using high-quality sensors and devices give higher accuracy and this data can be used to manage other services around the city. For example, when air quality is reduced, residents can get a health warning prompting them to prefer using public transport, wearing masks or avoiding going outside at all. This public data can be displayed on digital hoardings or smart street lamps(integrated within the IoT of air management) for the increased reach of this information to the public. Based on historical data of the city, IoT devices can also predict future air quality and deploy and operate air purifying devices as per the need. These predictions are based on algorithms that work with artificial neural networks.
- Traffic Management
Managing and optimizing traffic is one of the biggest challenges for large smart cities. Traffic congestion causes exhaustion, loss of money and time, and contributes a huge amount of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases’ emissions in the atmosphere. IoT is that technology that can manage the traffic in a way that there hardly are any traffic jams. This is possible through smart traffic lights that are within the IoT which can manage traffic movement with real-time updates for lesser congestion on the roads.
The present traffic management systems cannot adjust timing according to real-time traffic conditions. Traditional traffic lights systems cannot recognize when there’s a disturbance in traffic (e.g. a car accident) and for that reason, an smart traffic management system can aid cities in managing their traffic smartly. The information obtained from the sensors is used by AI to optimize traffic in the most efficient way, using real-time data. With the help of traffic insights, accurate time predictions, and the number of vehicles waiting for the green light, real-time updates are generated.
Another way of managing traffic is through pavement-integrated sensors that can send real-time updates of traffic flow to a central traffic management platform. This platform then analyses the data and automatically adjusts traffic lights to the traffic situation within seconds.
- Smart Parking
With the rapidly increasing population, the number of vehicles is also increasing and at a faster rate than the creation of new parking spaces. This means there is a dire requirement of more parking spaces and better utilization of existing spaces, as presently finding parking spots create stress among drivers, takes time, contributes of emission of harmful gases and adds to the traffic congestion. Using smart parking solutions that use smart lamp posts, on-ground sensors, LED matrix displays and mobile and web-based applications, all integrated together with the help IoT, can help with:
- displaying parking lot occupancy status
- directing drivers to the parking space
- enabling drivers to book and pay for a parking space
- managing the end-to-end city-wide parking space
Intelligent parking solutions can identify when a vehicle has left the parking area, this information is shared with other devices such as smart lamp posts or LED matrix displays on the streets or parking lots, for drivers to get information about parking space availability. The ground sensors can also notify drivers via smart parking application on their phone about an available parking and direct them to it.
Smart parking is really imoprtant for smart cities and does not requires complicated infrastucture installment or high investment. It is crucial to choose the right people to help you accomplish smart parking goals.
- Smart Waste Management
Every city that is being developed has to face the problem of increased waste generation and management. This is even more challenging for urban and smart cities as they have more population. There still are smart cities like Singapore, who are managing their waste efficiently with the help of smart IoT waste management solutions for example smart dustbins. Companies like Futurionic provide such end-to-end solutions. Singapore installed over 7000 smart bins all around the city. Some of the features of these smart bins are:
- monitoring the level of garbage in bins with IoT sensors
- alerting nearby garbage pickups when the bin is about to be filled to the brim
- ability to handle about 5 times more trash than regular bins
- solar panels for battery charging
- scavenger and pest prevention
Such a solution is the need for smart cities to manage their waste. These are great implementation of IoT to build an efficient system for monitoring and managing waste. Smart bins will be connected to application dedicated for this, with city’s garbage pickup service. They will only be notified for full bins and avoid reaching out for half full bins. This will improve their operational efficiency, contribute in reducing emmission of harmful gases from their pickup vehicles and avoid them in contributing to traffic congestion.
It is crucial to choose the right waste management solution as it will help a city to optimize the efficiency with which the waste will be collected and reduce its operational costs as we all know IoT is a cost efficient system compared to its counterparts. Such solution will also address the environmental issues associated with inefficient waste management and aid in better health of the city environment and its residents.
Can IoT work without the internet?
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