The future is here and so are Smart Cities. With internet connectivity becoming pervasive, the ‘Internet of Things' (IoT), has become a thing of the present. By embedding a chip into any physical object like a shoe or a traffic light, it can collect data, analyze it, connect with the internet and send information to a database in the cloud or to a specific application. Countries and entrepreneurs are figuring out innovative ways to enhance devices and systems to get the best out of available resources. As IoT grows, some of the possibilities that come into play are:
Utilities will become the more powerful aspect in the Critical Infrastructure IoT space. These will deliver vital services to large numbers of people. Some of the major trends in critical infrastructure that come into play will be:
- Through a combination of sensors, smart grids and scheduling software, it will be possible to forecast demand and deliver electricity 24x7. Smart metering will enable automatic billing and smart payments could link payments directly to mobile phone or credit bills.
- The air we breathe can be kept track of through pollution monitors.
- Just-in-time and the right quantity of water through embedded moisture monitors in public gardens.
- Smart Roads giving us information of traffic jams and accidents and alternative routes that we could follow, in addition to monitoring the condition of the road surface so that repairs can be done on time. Smart Traffic Management can control duration of traffic lights, speed limits, routing, etc.
- The Smart Parking Systems use a wireless sensor technology embedded in the pavement. This gets the information about occupancy and parking patterns and helps drivers get a parking space faster. These sensors help in reducing traffic congestion. Smart parking meters could detect smart sensors in your car to automatically bill your mobile phone for parking charges. Smart toll collectors could automatically charge the toll to your mobile bill even as you zoom through the highway at over a 100Kmph.
- Embedded smart stress monitors to check on unsafe buildings, bridges, etc.
- Smart cameras with facial recognition facilities could keep track of roads, pedestrian areas for security and safety.
- It will also become increasingly possible to monitor patient health remotely. Using smart sensors worn by citizens as devices or even woven into their clothes, vital parameters of the patient get transmitted onto secure cloud based platforms, where they can be stored and analysed. Emergency services can be activated if the patient's parameters so warrant.
- New advancements in medicine make data easily available for the doctors as well as the patients. A simple thing as reordering a medical prescription can now be done by just swiping the bar code on your smart phone. The number of people ordering their medicines in this manner in US is increasing day by day.
Citizen Services in a Smart City
- Your Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled mobile phone or other wearable device would allow you access to the metro, buses and trains, entry to the office, use of the ATM, shopping, etc.
- Smart devices with embedded intelligence, like your set top box, or electricity meter, would send you a message telling you that a payment is due and take instructions for payment verbally.
The Indian Government is working on a plan to make twelve smart cities over the next five years with an estimated budget of Rs. 50,000 crore. According to Frost & Sullivan: "We identified eight key aspects that define a Smart City: smart governance, smart energy, smart building, smart mobility, smart infrastructure, smart technology, smart healthcare and smart citizen." Of course, the foundation for all has to be the availability of a fast, reliable internet connection for all and at all places in the smart city.
Are we ready for smart cities? Watch this space for more about the key aspects that are important to build a well-functioning smart cit