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IoT Smart City Initiatives

Why Small Cities in the USA Need to Consider Such Implementation Seriously

Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interconnected computing devices, machines (mechanical and digital) and objects provided with unique identifiers and the possibility for each member to transfer data over a network.

Increasingly, there are so many examples of IoT already present, that can be seen everywhere: transportation, healthcare, business, security, energy and much more. However, constructing an IoT system is a complicated and expensive task.

HOW IoT WORKS

IoT system has four main components, and each of them is equally crucial for overall functioning. The first components are sensors or devices (cameras, microphones, different types of readers, etc.), responsible for collecting data. Some devices, such as a smartphone, can have multiple sensors.

Next step is to transfer collected data to the cloud by using a certain medium in real time. Connectivity (second component) between sensors and cloud can be done through various ways of communication such as cellular or satellite networks, Bluetooth, Wi-fi and others. Once the data is collected in the cloud, it is time for the third component, data processing.

This step can be simple, such as temperature or humidity range checking, or very complex in some cases due to combining the smart system with engineering and computer science. For example, when real-time object recognition is involved, there are problems in application algorithms designing which demands serious study development.

Last component, user interface, can be achieved by triggering alarms, sending e-mails and messages or any similar way of presenting information to the end-user.

There is a long list of smart devices, equipped with processors and sensors, capable to collect and exchange data and act upon it. Human interaction can be minimal, in the form of resetting, monitoring, and analyzing. Taking into consideration how many possibilities there are it’s no surprise that the idea of Smart Cities found its fertile ground in IoT.

US SMART CITIES INITIATIVE

Big cities are growing rapidly, generating over 65 percent of global greenhouse emission, and are forced to urgently fix this and problems with transportation and energy infrastructure, water and waste management or urban design. Small cities have other things on their mind since they usually don’t have enough resources or staff for the fast implementations of the modernization projects.

So, they have to look for opportunities and grab every chance they get to upgrade. 

Big or small, cities have to find ways to speed up the reform to avoid chaos in public service.

The obvious solution to all these problems was introducing the Smart City concept.

Smart City is an urban area that uses technologies to improve functioning.

The idea behind Smart City initiative was to use technology whenever and wherever it is possible, to organize public service activities and make them smooth, economical and eco-friendly.

The three primary goals were to improve citizens’ quality of life, business conditions, and environmental sustainability. But, the crucial problem was to find the technology with the ability to cover all the bases.

IOT SMART CITY INTEGRATION

The system capable of making a city “smart” and meet all the requirements actually is an IoT system. By introducing this technology, cities will be able to digitize and gather valuable information, create smart infrastructure, buildings, properties, and industrial environment, and integrate government services into one system.

But first, there are some implementation challenges and other obstacles to overcome, such as connectivity and digital infrastructure. Cities have to invest in loT. Here, we are facing yet again the small cities’ problem, how to find resources.

According to Cedar Rapids, IA case, it can be done. This city with a current population of 128,829 citizens was devastated by floods and tornadoes in 2008 but managed to bounce back in style.

Based on Livability.com “2019 Top 100 best places to live”, among 1000 examined cities Cedar Rapids is currently taking 50th place.  The city government has worked with state and local partners in order to implement strategies for smart growth, especially with community-oriented projects on developing public transportation and healthcare.

Their latest achievement in collaboration with company Passport Parking is introducing a mobile application that allows users to pay for parking from their smartphones. 

SMALL AND SMART – WITH IOT

Every city has a different budget and priorities, and although it might seem like a good opportunity to use templates, it usually isn’t. One thing remains the same in every city: citizens expect better services and responsiveness from their local governments, at the same cost. To achieve that, small and medium-size towns have to base their work on several points: focusing on local problems, optimizing investment capacity, using commercial models from the private sector and exchanging knowledge and template solutions with other small cities, when and where possible.

The most common area in which IoT has been implemented in small cities, to improve neighborhood safety is video surveillance, which allows police to monitor large city areas, detect crime and respond to these and other incidences on time and with less police force. Strategically situated cameras and sensors can record any suspicious activity on high-resolution security footage and even use face recognition if necessary. IoT combined with telematics has been used to help to monitor the roads and vehicles with automatic license plate recognition, changing driving habits with video and audio notifications, and avoiding accidents with vehicle-in-reverse detection, and collision avoidance system.

EXAMPLES of IoT APPLICATIONS FOR SMART CITIES

Intelligent street lighting was another IoT Smart City initiative that can help make substantial energy savings for small cities. The old ways of keeping the roads and sidewalks safe were replaced by LED street lighting with network connectivity, remote intelligent control and communication features. Among other characteristics, this adaptive system can automatically adjust light levels or turn the lights on/off in some less populated city areas due to a lack of people on the streets, all based on sensor collected data.

Another practical use of technology highly recommended and praised is in waste management. IoT applications with information received in real-time can rearrange garbage truck routes, modernize waste collecting with sensor-enabled bins and raise environmental sustainability to the whole new level with smart waste bins capable of identifying and sorting waste into categories. Small cities can find it useful for their waste management budgets to be able to save on fuel, engage less labor force and protect the environment, at the same time.

IoT can also be used to improve the work of utilities, such as water supply for example. In Cary, N.C. (estimated population 164,000 citizens) City officials took an opportunity to implement Smart City initiative to benefit both citizens and the community.  Instead of just replacing old with new water meters, they invested in water supply monitoring system which enabled better control of water usage for city residents by setting alerts. With the same system, the city can pinpoint leaks and prevent floods and water wasting.

These are only a few of many ways how IoT system can be customized to benefit small cities. Some could argue that the IoT system is too focused on technology and only helps authorities to monitor citizens while watching over infrastructure. To others, it seems more focused on the citizen’s interest, than on technology. One way or another, small cities do not have other choices but to focus on IoT systems, while balancing with privacy and efficacy.

LA NPDT provides streamlined IoT product design and system development service as well as turnkey IoT solutions. To address the many challenges of developing an IoT system, we at LA NPDT combined experts in industrial design, mechanical and electronic engineering, and software development under one roof. Our team is based on cross-functional collaboration. This ensures the most streamlined IoT product design and system development service as well as turnkey IoT solutions for our customers.

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