As we progress towards a more integrated machine-to-machine (M2M) communication with the internet of things (IoT) laying the foundation for future man-machine interactions, the logical progress is towards smart cities. A study by Qaulcomm suggests that by the year 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban settlements. This implies sustainable development to manage limited energy resources, environment friendly solutions and cost effective systems.
Many Facets of IoT Technology
The underlying technologies of IoT work in a synchronous environment where every bit of data produced is gathered and analyzed to generate actionable intelligence. With the automatic sense-and-respond capabilities, machines and objects around us will be designed to obey our commands actively. The price of technology is already being pushed down by immense competition and an efficient town plan is not longer a luxury but a necessity for governments. The internet is widely accessible across the world and as per a report by the United Nations, more than 3 billion people are currently using the internet, yet this accounts for only 40% of the world population currently. However, technologies such as the Google Loon and their Drone will create cost-effective means to spread internet access to the remotest locations in the world, in fact, they have already created their presence in four countries and are rapidly expanding. Hence, technologies such as lights that switch off on their own when no one is present in the room it will soon be used for public place lighting. Amsterdam has already executed such as a system with “livable” cities where public spaces are powered by green technologies.
Planning the Urbane
Effective management of the limited space and resources will primarily be dependent on sustainable solutions designed around the extensive use of the internet. IoT-based M2M technology is already being used in many countries for remote monitoring of energy and environmental resources, wastewater, air pollution and transportation. Critical information on any device, from anywhere and at any time is being extensively used in conjunction with big data analytics for improved productivity.
Cisco has fueled its investments in IoT startups and pumped around US$300 million in this initiative. The E-city Living Lab will be a predecessor of what future cities will be after a wider application of the IoT technologies in city planning. Panasonic’s smart town in Japan and a host of buildings in Abu Dhabi have all implemented technology driven by internet for smart cities.
Connectivity and Relevance
The areas where IoT applications will be most relevant in a smart city will be smart healthcare, buildings, construction materials, governance, education, mobility, infrastructure and security. Using IoT simplifies the planning and development of smart cities. It will enable efficient micromanagement of amenities and systems. For instance, if a streetlight has failed, then automatic update will be sent for replacement.
Privacy and Smart Cities- The Trade-Off
The privacy issues are still not widely apparent in the IoT environment. However, data will play a vital role in aligning the smart city systems with the needs of the citizens. As in the case of location-based applications, citizens will have to be given the choice to opt-in or opt-out. In London, sensors were installed in a public parking space with the aim to better manage space and it was found that users were mostly using a specific area mostly and policies were enacted to encourage the public to find space in nearby streets.
While this may have improved the system without infringing privacy, the government will have to design better policies that will not intrude upon the personal space of citizens while giving them the benefits of smarter planning.
About the Author:
Sonal Maheshwari loves pursuing excellence through writing and has a passion for technology. She has successfully managed and run personal technology magazines and websites. She currently writes for Intellipaat, a global training company that provides e-learning and professional certification training.
The courses offered by Intellipaat address the unique needs of working professionals. She is based out of Bangalore and has an experience of 5 years in the field of content writing and blogging. Her work has been published on various sites related to Hadoop Online training, Big Data, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, IT, SAP, Project Management and more.