How will IoT revolutionise our cities and public services?

Today, is global IoT day – a day that both celebrates and invites discussion around how we can develop, strengthen and deploy IoT initiatives and explore the impact this is having on our everyday lives.

To mark this date, we’re taking a look at how the IoT is set to affect public services in the coming years and how street lighting could hold the key to solving a number of environmental, transport and public safety challenges. We’re already beginning to see how IoT technology is transforming the way public services interact with their citizens, but what does the future hold for wider IoT initiatives and the UK public sector?

Environmental monitoring

Some cities in the USA are already integrating air quality, noise, motion, temperatures and precipitation sensors into streetlights in order to collect granular data about the day-to-day operations of the city. It is hoped that by making the data freely available, innovative applications will be developed to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint, better understand how to utilise renewable energy and ultimately improve the quality of life of those living in our cities.

Transportation applications

Through the integration of motion sensors, counters and cameras into lighting infrastructure, innovative traffic optimisation and smart parking applications are being created by companies like Cisco. These applications aim to reduce congestion in urban areas and improve the efficiency of transportation networks.

Public safety and security

Through the use of sensors and cameras integrated with streetlights, a number of applications have been developed that aim to improve public safety. For example, motion sensors can detect when a pedestrian is approaching and lighting levels are automatically increased to improve visibility. Alternatively, pedestrian counters can be integrated into the distributed lighting network, which can feed real-time data to people walking home at night and suggest the safest walking path based on the number of other people on the route.

Public Wi-Fi and internet provision

Due to the widespread nature of streetlights in urban areas, they are well placed to host distributed connectivity infrastructure that can be used to provide public Wi-Fi, or communication networks for IoT devices. Bristol has used lamp posts to create a mesh network that will enable IoT devices to be implemented at scale, providing a test facility to network operators, application developers and device manufacturers. Conversely, Los Angeles is allowing Ericsson to integrate small cells into their smart lighting infrastructure, with a view to renting out the additional capacity to mobile operators. While greatly improving connectivity across the city, it is also hoped that this innovative approach will generate a new revenue stream for the city.

What is particularly exciting is that these initiatives aren’t just things of science fiction – they’re happening right now and even more excitingly, ANS are playing a pivotal role in helping to lay the foundations for smart city projects.

Our goal is to make the IoT easy to adopt, integrate and scale.

We’re in the process of working with CityVerve, a consortium of organisations which are working together to deliver a smarter, connected Manchester which will use technology to change the lives of those living and working in the city, as well as building a blueprint for smart cities worldwide.  The vision sees the union of pioneering IoT initiatives and a team of real world experts to deliver endless possibilities for the city and its people such as improved healthcare, transport and the environment.

To find out more about the CityVerve Project, click here.

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