In future cities, our lives may be greatly improved, from the moment we step outside each morning. We may enjoy less polluted air, thanks to new Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that can help make smart buildings, connected factories, and smart cars more environmentally friendly. A smartphone app might connect to smart traffic and public transport networks and recommend the best way to go to work. And with autonomous vehicles, intelligent traffic light phasing, and smart parking technology, commuting may be safer, faster, and less stressful.
IoT technology may automatically adjust air conditioners in smart homes, maximizing our comfort while minimizing energy usage. Connected healthcare may lead to wearable devices that help us become healthier, first with fitness apps and then with monitoring applications as we get older or develop conditions that require medical supervision.
Solving Urban Challenges with IoT
Welcome to the smart city of the not-too-distant future. In fact, many of these technologies are available and in use right now. The next step is pulling them all together into smart networks that enable city infrastructure to run more effectively and efficiently.
This will not only improve our quality of life, but also make our cities more sustainable—and that’s crucial as our populations age and become more urbanized. The United Nations expects the proportion of people living in the Asia Pacific’s urban areas to increase from less than 40 percent in 2000 to 50 percent by 2020, and the number of people aged over 60 in the region to triple to more than 1.26 billion by 2050.
Without smart, transformative solutions, these two trends will result in increasing pollution and traffic congestion, overcrowding, and inadequate infrastructure. Healthcare services will be either reduced or cost more, or both.
Transforming Cities with IoT
The good news is that Intel IoT technologies can help ensure city infrastructure not only copes with increasing demand, but actually runs better.
Taiwan’s YouBike shared public bike system uses Intel IoT technology to keep track of thousands of bicycles, in real time. Also in Taiwan, Chunghwa Telecom is trialing Intel IoT technology on light poles, which will not only reduce the energy usage of each light, but will also monitor rainfall, temperature and air pollution—and then analyze this data to help identify new ways of improving citizens’ quality of life.
Saensuk Municipality in Thailand is working with Intel to pilot a three-year smart city plan that will benefit its 200,000 residents and the 1.7 million tourists who visit annually. Among other initiatives, it will offer a smartphone app that works with Bluetooth units installed in key attractions to provide tourists with interesting facts about those locations.
Meanwhile, factories and buildings are becoming much more energy-efficient and people-friendly. Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics is using Intel IoT technology in a smart manufacturing solution that reduces energy consumption and improves industrial safety. In Canada, Gisèle‑Lalonde Secondary School has built a smart campus with Intel IoT technology that can measure energy consumption per student and manage carbon dioxide levels.
Experiencing Healthier Lives with Intel IoT
New technologies can also help alleviate the problems associated with aging populations. They can help the elderly overcome mobility, visual, and cognitive problems. According to the Wireless World Research Forum’s study, Smart Cities and the Ageing Population, this can be done using:
- Audible and vibrotactile signals for pedestrians, augmented with systems able to tell people where they are located
- Mobile applications that make shopping more accessible for the visually impaired
- Assisted city apps adapted to blind users
- Systems that translate voice to text or that convert and reproduce sign language
- Devices that can guide seniors through their everyday tasks
- Rehabilitation systems and video games to enhance cognitive functions
IoT technology can improve the quality of senior’s lives by allowing them to stay in their own homes for longer. For example, UK company MimoCare has developed a system to monitor seniors in their homes. If there’s a significant change in their activity or, say, a cooker has been left on too long, the system will send an alert to relatives.
IoT Technology for Smart Cities
Smart city initiatives are becoming more viable largely due to recent improvements in IoT technologies, which are enabling municipal and government organizations to capture and analyze data from an increasing range of devices.
In particular, IoT systems make it easier to build networks of devices that are simpler to manage, add new features to, and integrate legacy equipment. These systems provide decision makers with actionable insights and trend forecasts using the data extracted from all these devices. Importantly, Intel IoT networks are robust and more secure, so they can be relied on to ensure city infrastructure is proactively maintained to the highest standard.
Clearly, we are in the midst of tremendous change. For municipal and government leaders around world, IoT technology is no longer a luxury—it’s essential.