Smart Cities initiatives will be driven by property developers, owners and management companies. Gateways will live on their rooftops, covering entire cities, supporting thousands of sensors, enabling vital new services. Public/private partnerships will power adoption of inexpensive digital tools that will serve the businesses and are extendable to all of the people.
Whether you’re looking to build a competitive edge, reduce strain on budgets, increase revenue, improve operations or have a different important goal – implementing wireless sensor monitoring to bolster your business or municipality can have a huge, measurable impact.
Business will drive smart cities adoption, but governmental partnership will drive standards and provide valuable services. By partnering with multiple property owners, a city can achieve network coverage for all its citizens and provide unified services to save money and better serve the population.
Smart City Services
Using light, noise and temperature sensors to assist with snowy sidewalks, icy steps, dark parking structures, and unauthorized building access. Creative use of simple sensors tied to a basic notification system provides cheap insurance by enabling maintenance teams to focus their efforts when and where they are needed
Public Parking Space Availability
Sensors, combined with camera technology can provide comprehensive data to help visitors or city residents find available parking spaces.
Storm Drain Monitoring
Blocked storm drains lead to property damage from flooding. Alerting maintenance teams to blockages allows for timely and efficient use of resources in an emergency.
Fuel Poverty Alerts
Winter heating can be too expensive for the elderly or low-income families. Many such people turn the heat down to the bare minimum to conserve money, but minimal home temperatures are often dangerous to the vulnerable. Fuel poverty is often an indicator for food poverty, and a simple temperature sensor can act as an indicator to get social or faith-based services involved to help.
Green Space Management
Measure temperature, soil conditions and soil water levels for urban green space and planter maintenance.
Weather and Air Quality Monitoring
Using multiple sensors, its possible to track changes in weather and air quality to different areas in the city. At our office in Milwaukee, we have been collecting weather and air quality data and storing it in a dashboard to demonstrate the power of IoT.
Interactive Building Services
Residential Tenant Services
Imaginative concierge services become a reality with the use of low-bandwidth networks to protect a guest’s privacy yet enable a high degree of care and comfort. Inform residents in real time if an exercise machine is available, how many people are in the gym, is the air quality in a communal space acceptable, and many more potential services in a multi-dwelling development.
Those things that go otherwise unnoticed in a building can cost a lot of money. Each ceiling repair from a water leak costs over $10,000, humidity and moisture combined lead to mold on walls and in ductwork, and lack of insulation leads to frozen pipes. Removing the human element from monitoring these things means labor saving and often a more reliable outcome.
Basement Water Intrusion Detection
Buildings, particularly old ones, are susceptible to basement water intrusion. Sensors can reliably detect excess humidity and actual water presence in the depths of a basement thanks to the excellent building penetration qualities of a LoRa protocol network.
Health and Safety
Indoor air quality and adequate ventilation has become enormously important in attracting and retaining tenants, and something as simple as setting a threshold on a CO2 sensor can signal air conditioning units to start or fans to circulate air. Other sensors can detect whether there is ice on a sidewalk and send an alarm to the maintenance team to avoid a potential insurance claim.
Monitor the location of expensive shared equipment or maintenance tools. Track usage of expensive assets and ensure they remain on the property.
The Power of Thinking Creatively
Sometimes the best solution isn’t the most obvious one. With each customer, we begin by gaining an understanding of what it is that you’re trying to measure. Oftentimes, the sensor that seems appropriate for the job may not the best one – either due to logistics, budget constraints or simply overkill for the outcome. For example: if you want to know the health of a motor, an auditory sensor solution might be inexpensive and effective for this purpose – as opposed to a more complex motion and/or electronic solution. If the motor is going bad – it will make a noise. The noise is recorded. You receive an alert: simple and effective.
Sensors “speak” to the network via two types of technologies: LPWAN (LoRa) or cellular. Each are best suited to different needs – but it isn’t always an “either or” issue. Some applications make use of both.
Low-Power, Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN) utilize sensors that run on small, inexpensive batteries that last years in an operating range that is typically ~3 miles in urban settings.
LPWANs are best suited for sending and receiving small amounts of data in a dense location (cities or large buildings) that require long-term monitoring. LoRa LPWAN sensors connect to gateway devices without any connectivity fees (similar to how your devices might connect to a WiFi network).
Cellular networks require contracted service agreements, with fees per sensor. In addition to the expense, cellular sensors also struggle with battery life, gaps in coverage and technology sunsetting. Sunsetting is when a technology is intentionally phased out: there are currently more than 30 million 2G endpoints in the US that no longer work due to sunsetting.
Cellular networks are best suited for sending larger amounts of data and in cases where short battery life is not a concern. Hardware is typically more expensive. Cellular-based IoT solutions are generally utilized by larger corporations or for smaller sensor deployment numbers.