Recently, we published a white paper detailing the rise of smart cities and their importance in a modern world. Over the next few weeks, a mini-series of blogs will be concluding that focused on showcasing some practical ideas to help you make your city smarter! Join us for our third installment of this series: “Integrated Sensors and the IIoT!”
You are probably already familiar with IoT (Internet of Things) by now because you may own a device like a smart home assistant, a cloud-based thermostat, a webcam-equipped refrigerator or maybe even a doorbell with a video camera inside. If you don’t own one of these devices the odds are pretty good that you know somebody who does.
IIoT is the industrial version of those things (hence the extra “I”). These are large scale networks of devices like traffic cameras, air quality sensors and pedestrian counters that allow you to monitor remotely. In fact, you can automate these systems to monitor for you, so that you only need to intervene if there is a problem or if you are taking proactive steps.
What problems can sensors and IIoT solve?
- Automates tedious and expensive monitoring, such as traffic, pedestrian and bicycle counts, air quality changes, environmental conditions and more
- Adds security and improves public safety through deployment of cameras
- Aids law enforcement and first responders
- Enables real-time feedback and smart controls for other devices.
A truly smart city should be able to respond intelligently to changing conditions. Sensors that detect a flooded or impassable road could automatically change signals to route drivers to avoid the area while also alerting emergency responders. Work requests could be submitted to crews automatically, with remote photos of an accident scene allowing for rapid assessment of what materials are needed to make the repairs. Smart buildings are starting to take advantage of technology and interconnected devices to better improve temperature control, recapture energy and in some cases to even power other buildings.
UPS Uses GPS for Smarter Driving
Once the data is in your grasp, what you learn may surprise you. Have you heard that UPS trucks don’t take left turns? Smart navigation technology enables this, and without advanced GPS routing it may have been tricky to get drivers to follow this rule. While it was known for a long time that left turns are involved in more accidents and deaths, what wasn’t known was that you can actually save a lot of money by avoiding them, even if it means going the longer way. This was counter-intuitive to drivers, but the savings of $300-$400 million annually in fuel and operating costs (not to mention the additional savings due to reduction in accident risk) is too good to ignore.
Just think of what installing sensors in automobiles did for us. For mechanics, it is now easy to just hook up a computer and read the fault codes, which usually leads to the exact solution. But the car itself is also able to automatically and intelligently adjust certain settings based on the feedback from these sensors. And when you have real-time information – much of which previously required invasive and expensive investigation – some problems can be predicted before they even occur.
This is the level of sophisticated monitoring and control that smart cities should aim for.
So what kinds of devices and sensors can my city install?
This is a hot topic right now – new devices and applications are being invented all the time. Here are just a few:
- Parking sensors to monitor parking spaces
- Smart lighting that adapts to the background and the weather to save energy
- Waste bins that monitor their levels and schedule collection automatically
- Moisture sensors that tell you when a catch basin should be serviced
- Air quality sensors to monitor local pollution levels
- Forest fire detectors to monitor the wildland-urban exchange
- Water monitoring for water quality, lead levels, and pollutants, as well as flooding and leaks
- Energy recapture through smart roofs and smart water heating technology
AssetWorks Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software comes equipped with the tools you need to start making your city smart. EAM includes complete asset life-cycle management, with budgeting, acquisition, capital improvement, campaigns and disposal management. In addition, EAM comes with robust work order and calendar functionalities and more! Finally, EAM is integrated with Esri GIS and AssetWorks FleetFocus fleet management systems so that your data can be streamlined and kept accurate in real time.