Sensors for smart cities

Sensors have been brought to the forefront of the smart city and Internet of Things (IoT) building program. Whether in China or around the world, the construction of smart communities has become an irreversible trend. Under this environment, sensors as the “bridge” of the smart city, will inevitably usher in the industrial explosion.

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Air Quality Monitor FS00802G

Smart City

A smart city is a platform for the centralized application of the Internet of Things (IoT), a model for the comprehensive application of IoT technology, a larger demonstration project consisting of a combination of N IoT functional units, carrying and containing almost all of the IoT, cloud computing and other related technologies, and is the constituent elements and basic units of Sense of China.

A smart city can be based on the size of the city and different needs, horizontal and vertical combinations, the formation of the system size, functional focus, and focus on the smart city system.

Smart cities can not be achieved overnight, any kind of open system, can continue to increase function, and gradually improve the process of perfect and continuous upgrading.

A “smart city” needs to have four major characteristics: comprehensive and thorough perception, broadband ubiquitous interconnection, intelligent and integrated applications, and people-centered sustainable innovation.

The first is to achieve comprehensive and thorough perception: through the sensing technology, to achieve all aspects of urban management monitoring and comprehensive perception. Real-time intelligent identification, three-dimensional sensing of the urban environment, state, location and other information of the full range of changes.

Of course, it is also the inevitable result of the development of sensor applications!

Air quality monitoring station FS00807 (5)
Air quality monitoring station FS00807

Application of Sensors in Smart City Construction

The basic requirement of the smart city is that everything is connected in the city, and every object that needs to be identified and managed needs to be installed with its corresponding sensor. Therefore, the upgrading of sensors has become the key to the rapid development of smart cities.

1. Intelligent parking improves traffic efficiency

Traffic congestion is the number one problem faced by all major cities in modern times, and, as cars continue to search for parking spaces on city streets, they increase the emission of carbon dioxide and other tailpipe gases, which in turn affects the quality of urban air.

Smart parking technology is expected to change this. Using GPS data from smartphones and sensors embedded in the ground of parking spaces, the technology can provide real-time parking maps and space information to nearby car owners, thus making the parking process more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Los Angeles in the US has already launched smart parking technology and installed wireless sensors in more than 6,300 car parks across the city. Drivers can access real-time information on available parking spaces nearby and rates that change in real-time according to demand through mobile apps, websites, and by calling 511. The city has also installed more than a dozen electronic message signs to help drivers better locate parking spaces.

Intelligent Car Park
Intelligent Car Park

2. Smart Streetlights Make Cities Safer

Streetlights are an important infrastructure for a city. Through IoT technology, streetlights can be made an important part of a smart city. Street light sensors can collect and analyze real-time information on city streets, providing managers with real-time data on city operations and making city management safer and more efficient.

Smart streetlights can improve the safety of city streets and save the government a lot of money on electricity bills. Replacing old streetlights with energy-efficient LED bulbs connected wirelessly activates the bulb’s motion sensors to provide light to passersby when they approach, and automatically extinguishes them when they leave. And when the bulb needs to be replaced, a reminder is sent to managers via sensors.

For example, more than 80 percent of the streets in Los Angeles, USA, are equipped with LED bulbs and 4G LTE wireless connectivity bulbs. These smart streetlights save 63 percent on annual energy costs and improve neighborhood services through connected poles.

Chicago, USA, installed more than 76,000 smart LED streetlights in the violence-prone south and west metro areas, cutting streetlighting costs in half in one year. Management estimates that the use of smart streetlights will save about $100 million over 10 years.

Intelligent street light
Intelligent street light

3. Intelligent transport improves traffic safety

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) include all facilities including self-driving cars and intelligent traffic signals. Through sensor analysis and inter-system communication, the goal of ITS is to “reduce congestion, improve traffic management, minimize environmental impacts, and benefit business users and public transport.”

Columbus, Ohio, USA is an example of a smart city and intelligent transport construction. Two years ago, Columbus won a $40 million prize in the U.S. Smart City Challenge. The city not only focuses on self-driving cars but also supports a multi-modal travel plan app to help residents use different travel options in and around the city.

In addition, many cities around the world are using sensors to connect traffic signals and surveillance cameras to improve pedestrian safety. For example, Boston, USA, has launched the Smart Streets project in collaboration with Verizon to test data collection technology at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street, where a variety of traffic data is collected and analyzed through cameras, LED street lights, and sensors, so that road design and signal timing can be adjusted to improve pedestrian safety.

Intelligent Traffic
Intelligent Traffic

4. Smart Energy Changes the Urban Environment

According to an analysis by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative, a non-profit organization, the enhancement of a modern electricity grid through smart grids “is an indispensable first step towards achieving smart cities.” The use of renewable energy sources, such as rooftop solar, can help bring about “sustainable change,” helping to improve the environment and safeguard public health.

Smart grids also “allow for better integration of new technologies such as electric vehicles, which in turn creates a range of possibilities for urban areas.” In the future, cities will have zero-emission transport, and, in the event of an emergency, electric vehicles that act as electrical storage devices can provide emergency power to the city.

Smart grids also allow residents to access their energy data and enable utilities to offer new pricing plans to improve energy efficiency.

Smart Energy
Smart Energy

5. Intelligent Management of Resident Healthcare

Through the IoT, smart cities can realize the possibility of connecting everything, with people, buildings, transport, and the environment all being integrated into the overall data network to improve urban services. At the same time, this connectivity can in turn help improve the health of residents.

EPB in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, has invested heavily in its fiber-optic network infrastructure to provide residents with connectivity at speeds of up to 1G/sec, which on the one hand provides residents with ultra-high-speed broadband services, and on the other hand, facilitates the deployment of new services such as telemedicine.

The city is exploring plans to offer telemedicine services to EPB’s broadband subscribers, who currently have more than 100,000 broadband subscribers, and would benefit from telemedicine services.

Smart cities can also enhance public health services in other ways. in 2017, Sidewalk Labs, the smart cities division of Google’s parent company Alphabet, spun off Cityblock Health, a public health unit designed to provide healthcare to low-income populations.

Through a health app called Commons, the unit connects city healthcare with patients, collects and analyses user healthcare data, uses AI technology to analyze patient risk levels, and provides timely interventions through semi-automated or automated methods to reduce healthcare costs across the city.

Intelligent Healthcare
Intelligent Healthcare

6. Smart buildings drive environmental protection

According to Navigant Research, about 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 70 percent of energy consumption in major cities are attributable to buildings.

Smart buildings will play a key role in solving these problems and achieving smart city goals.

Sensors in smart buildings can detect whether a room is occupied so that temperature and lighting can be automatically adjusted when the room is not in use, saving money and protecting the environment.

Data collected and analyzed in smart buildings may change the way infrastructure is managed, reducing energy consumption and helping to improve public health and safety.

Siemens believes that advanced buildings have a central nervous system, similar to a brain, that balances and coordinates the interests of various parties, such as minimizing energy consumption, occupant comfort, and grid stability. Siemens’s building automation system, Desigo CC, integrates all building systems into a single platform that can be operated intuitively to better manage functions such as fire protection, heating, ventilation, lighting, and video surveillance.

Intelligent Building
Intelligent Building

7. Smart cities need smart environments

As the number of smart ‘green’ buildings in cities increases, cities need to consider how they can use new technologies to improve the environment more broadly.

Consultancy Deloitte says that for a truly smart city “utilising technology for sustainable growth is critical.

“This means using technology to maximise the efficient use of valuable resources and encourage sensible choices by all participants,” Deloitte argues “This includes not only city-owned buildings, but also businesses, universities, hospitals and not-for-profit organisations, as well as individuals. This could mean using sensor technology, behavioural economics and gamification to not only transform physical infrastructure, but also improve positive resource decisions.”

This applies to everything from sensors to detecting water leaks, timely waste collection and energy distribution, as well as to the way cities are built.

For example, Sidewalk Labs’ smart city building programme in Toronto, Canada, includes more wood-framed buildings as an important part of a major new initiative. The programme recognises that wood construction is cheaper, easier to modify and adapt, and more suitable for sustainable urban environments.

With the development and application of Internet of Things (IoT) technology in smart cities, one realises more clearly that sensors, as the core technology of IoT, act as an incomparable leading technology in it. The more powerful the city’s smart function, the greater the demand for sensors, the higher the technical requirements. Through the sensor equipment throughout the city to do for the collection of diverse data to achieve the comprehensive, systematic and intelligent urban data collection. It can be seen that the application of sensor technology naturally becomes the key to achieve the key to urban wisdom. At the same time, the smart city also provides a broader imagination for the sensor industry and technology development.