IoT and Cities: Enhancing Parking, Traffic and More
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The Internet of Things (IoT) has begun to permeate nearly every aspect of our daily lives; from entertainment to security to self-driving cars, it’s hard to find one industry that hasn’t taken advantage of the IoT’s ability to seamlessly connect smart devices and facilitate communication.
While the IoT provides a host of benefits to a number of markets, urban areas are at the top of the list of those seeing the most significant impact. The IoT empowers what’s known as the Smart City, defined as a municipality “that uses information and communication technologies to increase operational efficiency, share information with the public and improve both the quality of government services and citizen welfare.”
Smart City initiatives therefore rely on the IoT and its connected devices to enhance infrastructure and well-being. In fact, according to recent research from IoT Analytics on 1,600 real IoT use cases, the largest amount of projects were part of Smart City initiatives.
The IoT provides Smart Cities with numerous advantages, such as the ability to streamline waste management and structural health. New York City’s Smart City efforts, for example, include energy conservation through smart lighting and air quality monitoring.
But of the many fashions in which municipalities can benefit from the IoT, its role in traffic management is one of the most critical. Almost everyone is familiar with the complications that can accompany parking, whether you’re struggling to find a space for an event or simply at your favorite retailer. Cities frequently face a variety of challenges when it comes to traffic and parking, such as:
- Long search times for a parking space
- Exceeded emissions limits
- Illegal parking
- Valuable parking space not being monetized
- Costly yet ineffective parking space management systems and procedures
Solutions that utilize the interconnectivity and innovation of the IoT can effectively mitigate these issues through multiple elements.
Immediate and up-to-date detection of available on-street parking spaces reduces the required time and distance to park, improving mobility. Overhead parking sensors mounted on lampposts connected through the IoT can analyze and measure the appropriate data, sending information to digital signage, ideally also integrated on the lamppost that can display the latest updates for drivers.
Traffic and Pollution Reduction
IoT solutions allow drivers to make smart parking decisions based on facts rather than luck, ensuring less congestion – in regard to both the amount of cars backed up in a certain area and the emissions released into the air. It is essential for drivers to be able to rely on accurate real-time information about where to go, and more importantly, where not to go when all spaces are occupied. The decision to park right away in a nearby garage, rather than circling in the inner city to find an on-street parking space, is essential to avoid unnecessary emissions and traffic.
Spaces dedicated to parking are one of a city’s most valuable assets, but in most cases, drivers aren’t paying for these precious spots. By providing them with real-time information about the location of available spaces through reliable on-street parking data, drivers are motivated and incentivized to pay for the service and the valuable space as their search time, costs and frustration are substantially reduced.
Clever parking services and management solutions enable cities to automate processes that may be time consuming or costly. These solutions allow users to identify trends and prioritize controls according to real occupancy and payment data. For example, the appropriate use of dedicated zones, such as handicap or delivery areas, can be continuously monitored. Safety in the city can be increased and the identification of a hazard or non-authorized vehicles in certain zones can be easily established.
These components can then be incorporated into the implementation of a Smart City project, bringing together additional pieces that revolutionize the entire parking experience. Officials can manage parking pricing dynamically according to supply and demand, and integrate the management of electric cars, shared cars and charging points.
Going Beyond Smart Traffic Management
The overall enhanced traffic management achieved through IoT devices contributes to a comprehensive Smart City initiative that can vastly augment decision-making and operations. And the IoT’s effect doesn’t stop there: cities are seeing improvements to healthcare, commerce, government services and more. Smart grids can more efficiently transmit electricity, while wireless irrigation networks can promote water conservation.
The opportunities the IoT provides to cities are truly revolutionary and stand to revamp and boost an endless number of systems. And the examples above are just the beginning; as more data is collected and further use cases are identified, the possibilities will only expand.
With the number of connected devices expected to reach 20.4 billion by 2020, there’s no doubt that Smart Cities will become even smarter. The IoT will continue to underpin each and every implementation, facilitating levels of communication never thought possible before.
Looking ahead, Greece’s first Smart City, Trikala, provides an example of many of the IoT systems and devices we can expect to see in the future. The city has already seen success in its deployment of an e-complaint system, driverless buses, sensor-equipped stoplights for reducing electricity and more.
But the municipality hopes to embark on even greater projects, such as smart houses that monitor the health of elderly residents and smart farming that grows ancient medicinal plants.
The hope is that the latter project will create jobs for the city, yet another remarkable outcome of using the IoT in municipalities. Whether it’s through simplified traffic and parking management, waste reduction, energy preservation or more – it’s abundantly clear that the IoT can go a long way to positively impacting cities and the lives of each and every inhabitant within them.
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