Connected technology is a hot buzzword in the tech industry. Sustainability is a hot buzzword in the green living world. Combining the two can be an ideal mix, in the right setting. According to some developers, that setting may be the city. A greater number of connected technologies are focusing on creating an urban landscape that is sustainable, and I believe that is a positive change.
Smart Lighting Decreases Environmental Impact of Cities
Today’s urban environments are “on” nearly 24/7. This means an increased demand on electrical systems, as streets, subways and train stations need to be lit at all times of the day. Yet, sometimes that same lighting is lit when it is not needed, and the Internet of Things may make it possible to lessen the wasted electricity in these scenarios.
Consider, as an example, a recent innovation that Vodafone and Philips Lighting have created. Together, these two have created an LED street light system that connects wirelessly, joining each light to the others on the network and to a central managing system. This, in turn, allows city engineers to adjust brightness remotely using nothing more than a web browser, and even switch lights on and off easily. This, combined with the implementation of LED technology, has greatly reduced the amount of electricity necessary to light the cities where the technology is being tested.
How does the Internet of Things make this scenario better? In this particular model, each street lamp is equipped with a machine-to-machine SIM. These, then, are connected to a street lighting management system created by Philips. This allows remote monitoring of all aspects of the lighting grid, and all the maintenance professional needs is access to the web. Ease of management means better decisions when it comes to turning lights on and off or dimming them when ambient light covers the need. Add additional sensors that monitor the ambient light, and the system becomes almost automatic.
Smarter Transportation Decreases Fuel Costs
Lighting is just one scenario where the Internet of Things is making cities more eco-friendly. Transportation is another. Public transportation is necessary to make the modern urban landscape work, but it is not the most eco-friendly aspect of city life. Smarter transportation through the Internet of Things can limit the amount of fuel used by public transportation systems.
Consider the bus system, for example. Modern bus fleet managers can use connected technology in the form of fleet management software and GPS mapping technology, all connected to a central monitoring device, to ensure that buses are routed effectively. By avoiding duplicate routes without stranding riders, the modern urban public transportation system can cut fuel costs significantly. Technology is currently in the works that would provide patrons with apps they can use to locate the next scheduled bus and even track the progress of the bus they are catching, which will increase customer satisfaction without increasing the number of buses on the road.
Increased customer satisfaction with public transportation has an added eco-friendly benefit. When more people are confident that the public transportation system will serve them well, fewer cars will be on the road contributing to greenhouse gasses and other pollution problems.
In trains and subways, the Internet of Things is improving efficiency by monitoring the function of the trains and alerting maintenance teams to efficiency issues that need to be addressed. Predictive maintenance, which lowers fuel use and improves the efficiency of public transportation vehicles, is much easier to manage with the help of the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things is about more than just smart refrigerators and stoves that turn themselves on. It is about creating a world that runs efficiently and effectively. It’s about harnessing the power of technology to make life more sustainable. The city environment is a perfect example of where this can happen. With just these two scenarios, we can see that the power of the Internet of Things is great, and, if leveraged well, it could be the key to promoting a future where we do more to protect the world around us.
These are just two of many examples where the Internet of Things is contributing to the sustainability of cities. We haven’t even talked about reducing water usage, improving the effectiveness of city services or the reality of a greater number of people telecommuting and avoiding fuel use altogether. In the future, I expect to see a greater number of applications where the Internet of Things is changing the face of the modern city.
This is a guest post from Jason Hope. He is an entrepreneur, futurist, philanthropist, and investor located in Scottsdale, Arizona with a passion for technology and giving back to his community. You can follow him and his writings here: http://tech.co/author/jasonhope