Technology is improving every aspects of our lives. As a result we are living longer, have more access to information than ever before and can interact on a truly global scale without leaving home. But this comes at a cost. More and more people are moving into large cities which will result in 100 new cities each housing 1 million citizens. This is a major challenge for government to continue to provide infrastructure and services while managing overcrowding, pollution, resource constraints, inadequate infrastructure, and the need for continuing economic growth.
This is where the Internet of Everything becomes critical to ensure the city remains viable.
At a recent Cisco Connect 2014 summit held in Sun City, I heard first hand from Cisco execs how Cisco Smart+Connected Communities solutions are being deployed. These intelligent networking solutions provide the information and services needed to address these urban hyper growth challenges and create more liveable cities.
The Future is here – we just don’t know it yet
The Internet of Everything is defined as “bringing together people, process, data, and things to make more network connection relevant, insights and valuable”. What does this mean in practical terms ? It means that essential infrastructure such as traffic management, safety & security, street lighting, parking, waste management, energy usage are all working together to be more efficient and streamlined instead of each system working in isolation.
While it sound like technology from futuristic feature films, Cisco has proven their technology in the real world as it has wired up Barcelona, Spain to become a truly connected city.
Here is how Barcelona uses its Internet of Everything to be a better city for its citizens:
40% of traffic congestion happen as a result of people trying to find parking space. Therefore parking sensors have been fitted into parking spaces which relay information to the city’s network. When a driver is looking for parking, they simply open an app and tap on the Park Now button. The system will geo-locate the driver and advise where the nearest parking bay is.
Smart Public Transport
Public transport becomes a pleasure when you have access to information. Not only do Bus stops have touchscreens that provide information about businesses, restaurants, facilities located around the area , but the Bus schedules and routed are also provided and updated in real time. No longer do people wonder when the next bus is coming or if there are in the right bus stop to get to their destination.
The same applies for the city’s underground train system.
When on the bus or underground, WiFi is provided so citizens continue to be connected regardless where they are.
Much of a city’s power is wasted on poorly managed lighting. Street lights that don’t work, or those that stay on the entire day or those that use inefficient globes. These all result in waste. Barcelona has installed dynamic street lights that work on sensors and activate on movement. These are centrally managed to save energy and still provide enough light to illuminate the streets.
Barcelona is covered with sensors that all feed information back to a central console. This allows official to make decisions in real time based on data that include noise, pollution, traffic and weather conditions
Where is the opportunity?
Having access to information is critical in order to make decisions. Cisco systems provide cities with this information so that action can be taken. Cisco estimates that there will be 50 billion smart objects connected which could translate into a $500 billion opportunity in Africa alone – that is double the value of the South African economy.
Businesses need to think what services they could create once everything is connected and everyone has access to information. Whenever there are system that are not scalable and have limited sharing of data – this is where the opportunities are to use the Internet of Everything and break the mould.