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IoT For Smart Cities and Buildings


In this step, you’ll learn how IoT can be implemented to create smarter cities that optimise safety and efficiency.

If you’ve installed one of the many smart home devices on the market today, you’ll be familiar with the value of a smart home. Features include:

  • Improved safety through lock monitoring
  • Automatic lighting
  • Security cameras
  • Increased productivity and efficiency through home automation.

When extrapolated to the scale of a town or city, IoT shows us what’s possible in terms of making our living environments safer, more efficient, and better places to work and play in.

The concept of smart cities can conjure up dystopian ideas of Big Brother watching our every move, and some people may be concerned about invasions of privacy and too much central control. Whilst architects of IoT solutions need to consider the right balance between innovation and personal privacy, the opportunities to improve civic life through IoT are enormous and with proper controls and privacy considerations in place, it makes communities safer, more efficient, and thus easier to live in.

Let’s look at some ways smart cities can improve life for communities of people. Microsoft has outlined four primary ways that IoT can transform this vertical and we’ll look at each below.

Optimise Natural Resource Use

Making better use of natural resources is more than a political slogan. Doing more with less makes good economic sense and allows for better stewardship in using the resources we have. IoT implementation can help urban communities minimise waste, use power more intelligently, and make the most of resources for farming, mining, and energy.

Create Safer Cities

By connecting to the internet and using cloud-based analytics tools, city governments can aggregate anonymous, raw numbers into intelligent insights that can improve service delivery and emergency response.

As we’ll see in the next step on transportation, city life is a buzzing array of complex variables undergoing continual change. Whilst cities have their own heartbeat and rhythm, the regularity is a product of a variety of individual activities all occurring at the same time. From an IoT perspective, this can create a data management and analytics challenge and also presents issues for city managers.

For example:

  • How does a city ensure emergency services have enough resources to meet the demands of the city?
  • How do managers of those emergency resources deploy the resources in the most efficient ways to keep citizens safe?
  • How does a city manage high demand (say for a significant weather event)?
  • Does demand vary based on the time of the day or the time of the year?

City and services managers are good at managing many of these scenarios, but IoT solutions can refine these abilities and provide more powerful tools to help those responsible for keeping citizens safe.

Create Smart Buildings

As you’ve seen, IoT technology brings value to a vertical by collecting and aggregating data for insights that would have been hidden without data collection. These insights can result in cost-saving, efficiency, comfort and safety. All these are true when it comes to smart buildings.

Improve Field Service

The fourth way that IoT can transform this vertical is by implementing more efficient services for public equipment and utilities. Providing the ability for municipalities and service providers to instrument equipment, retrieve data, and respond to problems can make cities safer and better to live in. From repairing street lamps and roadways to monitoring and anticipating problems in public utilities, IoT can help cities maintain their infrastructure and respond to problems.

These are just a few examples of how IoT can be used in smart city scenarios. There are many more opportunities to innovate in this vertical.

Here’s a list of some of the top initiatives being driven by industry leaders in the IoT space.

  • Johnson Controls is developing an extensible, connected platform capable of integrating with virtually any building component, from building sensors and thermostats to rooftop air handling and chiller systems.
  • IBM is working with municipalities to improve water utilities by using IoT solutions to detect problems and improve water safety.
  • The municipality of Selangor in Malaysia is using IoT to flag issues with civil engineers so that road repairs can be made timeously, thereby improving road safety.

In the next step, we’ll look at the transportation sector which contains a myriad of IoT solutions.

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Microsoft Future Ready: Fundamentals of Internet of Things (IoT)

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