Existing Smart City innovations that take efficiency to another level
Smart Cities mean that Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and other technologies will connect different devices across a city and will improve efficiency, improve connectivity and will improve the quality of life for residents.
Despite grand possibilities, the concept of the Smart City comes with its own challenges. The cost of new advanced technology, its reliability, and the space needed for this technology has put a slight damper on this Smart City-fantasy—or so you would think.
These are significant challenges, but researchers have discovered and continue to discover new ways to remedy all of these concerns. This technology does not have to be expensive, inconvenient or unreliable—and it’s not all new technology.
MIT students used technology that already existed, the sensors in E-ZPass transmitters, to create Caraoke, “a network system for delivering smart services using e-toll transponders,” according to the Caraoke: AN E-Toll Transponder Network for Smart Cities” research paper written by Omid Abari, Deepak Vasisht, Dina Katabi and Anantha Chandrakasan from MIT.
“Caraoke readers are small, low-cost and low-power, and hence can be easily deployed on street lamps to allow cities to deliver smart services [such as] smart parking, traffic monitoring and speed detection, all using one infrastructure,” said the research paper.
Caraoke can read information it senses and transmit it to other sources. If Caraoke detects a significant number of cars at an intersection, it can trigger the traffic light to change to keep the flow of traffic moving. This network system can gather information about specific cars as they drive past and can sense if a car has run a red light. The specific car can then be charged for the ticket automatically.
This network system revolutionizes the way people will see driving. Instead of having to get out coins for a parking meter, a car can park anywhere and the owner’s credit car will be charged. This could also be the future of fast food—a car could go through the drive-through and could be automatically charged for its purchase without anyone needing to take out a credit card.
This solar-powered network has the ability to isolate each car that passes through and can gather individual information about it. It has an LTE connection to the Internet, thanks to DAS and small cell technologies.
Imagine that trash cans on busy urban streets never overflow. That trash cans are emptied just before they reach capacity every time. Since trash cans would never be full, the amount of liter that falls to the ground will be minimized. This is what Bigbelly does. The company was founded in 2003 to transform the waste collection system, and is well established. This innovative waste management company has a prescience in over 50 countries in communities, on campuses and other organizations.
Bigbelly has several useful features, including: smart waste and recycling stations that communicate their status (how close they are to capacity); urban sensors that can gather data such as footfall and noise to pollution levels; the capability to extend the platform to offer a new network for First Responder use only; and can serve as a location-based beacon which can deliver local-based messages when needed. Bigbelly can also offer Wi-Fi in dense urban areas—where networks can get congested—by hosting small cell and other wireless equipment.
Enlightened, a provider of in-building lighting sensors, which increases efficiency at a lower cost, has created outdoor solutions too. Smart street lamps, from Enlightened and companies like it, act as indoor lights do. They dim when no one is around and go to full power when people are around. This energy-saving solution allows that saved energy to be stored and put to other uses.
As important as making sure indoor space is used efficiently and is comfortable for tenants, outdoor space can matter just as much. With this new technology, people may get to work faster, drive safer, and be in a healthier environment. Smart cities are happening now—and new innovations are on the horizon.
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