By 2050, around 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities, according to the United Nations, www.un.org, and urbanization isn’t the only shift on the horizon for the world’s cities. The IoT (Internet of Things) is increasingly allowing cities to offer the kind of high-quality lifestyle and vibrant economic climate that attracts residents, businesses, and visitors alike. (Is interoperability next? See related story)
Sensors have transformed the way citizens live, work, and play. From smartphones to smart meters and smart streetlights, connected devices are delivering greater conveniences, comforts, and efficiencies. In the industrial sector, too, sensor-enabled automation has the potential to virtually eliminate human error, thereby delivering greater throughput and higher ROI (return on investment), and open doors for predictive maintenance.
Laila Salman, lead application engineer at ANSYS, www.ansys.com, a provider of engineering simulation software, says wireless technologies such as LTE (long-term evolution) and 5G have the potential to improve human life by enabling IoT applications like autonomous vehicles, personalized medicine, and beyond. Importantly, she says sensors can free up people’s time, giving them the chance to focus their attention on activities that require the full power and creativity of the human brain, rather than performing low-level monitoring activities. “Sensors have a fantastic potential to drastically reduce waste by replacing or, more specifically, assisting the human sense,” she says. “Sensors can perform continuous monitoring of what is happening somewhere. … This approach would reduce the waste of resources such as energy but also the most valuable resource: human intelligence and human resource.”
When Samir Saini, former CIO for the City of Atlanta, www.atlantaga.gov, envisions the future of smart cities, he says it’s all about transforming a city from reactive to proactive. “For cities, the perspective is that if cities can deploy sensors that can collect large volumes of data around what it sees, hears, and smells around it, and those sensors can be deployed in high density across the entire city, then the data can be used to move city department services from being largely reactive today to being proactive and predictive,” Saini explains. “If we can sense that there are elevated carbon monoxide levels, we could proactively dispatch a fire truck to the scene of a potential fire. Whereas if we didn’t have the sensor, there would be a fire and it would reach a point where it’s pretty serious, we would wait for a 9-1-1 call and then dispatch the fire truck. The difference there could be minutes (or) seconds, but that could be the difference between life and death.”