Is Your City Ready to Host the Next Amazon?


Cities are in a race to get smart – to expand their information networks (wired and wireless), embed sensor technology in an expanding array of infrastructure assets, and to adopt the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The competition is fierce as cities, big and small, are convinced that an investment in ‘smart’ is also an investment in long-term economic growth. And these are the type of cities that are attracting major employers.

What is a Smart City? No, it’s not a city that scores a 1600 on the SATs, though better learning environments would, in fact, be a consequence of getting ‘smart.’

Picture a dense and increasingly interconnected community of machines and sensors that delivers actionable intelligence to touch and transform everything. The IIoT is here now, all around us, in a dizzying array of applications.

Two major real-world components that enable today’s IIoT are:

• Real-time data analytics at the edge – With device data processing faster and cheaper than ever before, information that used to be sent to a backlogged, expensive central server can now be analyzed in real-time at the edge. For example, cameras with Artificial Intelligence running on the device allow local PDs to receive live mobile alerts enabling them to deploy officers right away, mitigating threats to life and property. As response times drop, average citizens gain more security and more control over their daily lives.

• Networked sensors – If you’ve ever browsed a self-improvement website then you know the golden-rule is ‘communication, communication, communication.’ The same can be said of devices; devices that can talk to each other, that are connected, create a network that enables intelligent infrastructure – vital to a city’s competitiveness. Now, smart intersections can communicate and coordinate instantaneously, relieving and rerouting traffic to decrease congestion and avert gridlock. You and I, in turn, spend less of our day on the road and more time creating and consuming.

Therefore, a Smart City leverages sensor-collected data from IIoT applications to radically improve the environment where residents work and live, creating efficiencies and driving down the cost of municipal services to improve quality of life. Your local community might already have elements that make up a Smart City – maybe a solar-powered speedometer on a residential stop sign warning drivers to slow down for the kids. With a plethora of new, powerful IIoT applications, going “smart” is easier than ever before.

Imagine the benefits of a sensor-rich public infrastructure that can sense traffic congestion, air quality issues, noise pollution and other urban problems. Now imagine gathering those insights independent of the power grid, allowing for a seamless and easy expansion of the IIoT.

Freedom From The Grid

The electrical grid has been in the news lately, it’s because it’s ageing and failing and expensive to extend. Now imagine you have all these smart, networked sensors and you want to put them in outdoor areas. Off-grid solutions equal quick deployments that don’t depend on infrastructure overhaul as well as cost-effective service, by nixing the need for trenching. Additionally, by taking the grid out of the equation by replacing it with off-grid power, you simultaneously extend the IIoT, gain rapid new insights, and reduce pollution, attracting the Amazons of the world.

Security: Major Factor For Smart Cities

Sensor-rich public infrastructure boils down to one thing: quality of life. ­And the feeling of security is a major factor impacting the quality of life – American workers regularly rank safety as a top criterion when they choose to move to a city. Security infrastructure is one of the hottest areas of opportunity for the IIoT and is critical to a city’s economic success via retention of talent.

Conventional security can no longer guarantee that safety, as criminal activity has grown more sophisticated and mobile. Conventional surveillance cameras must be installed in fixed locations where they can access electricity, and they rely on humans to continuously monitor or at least review recorded video to be useful in identifying suspects. Portable, analytics-driven video sensors on the other hand can replace manned security and give law enforcement comprehensive, accurate information in mere seconds – and are not tied to the electrical grid. Wirelessness allows for the easy and rapid expansion of IIoT-connected security technology, giving law enforcement a motile pair of eyes and ears to deploy to previously hard-to-access locations. Compact, portable, analytically sophisticated, autonomous and free from power infrastructure makes adoption quick, modular and cost-effective, perfectly illustrating how the IIoT is making the Smart Cities concept a reality.

Transformation

For municipalities that aspire to be Smart Cities, the transition can be seamless and easy.  Their reliance on sensing and monitoring devices that are portable, sophisticated, and free from power infrastructure makes adoption easy and rapid. Wireless IIoT technology is now proven and ubiquitous, and big and small cities have a level-playing field to compete for the next tech global headquarters.

The transformation to ‘smart’ can have real, tangible benefits for a city’s long-term growth. A city that is safe, decongested and data-centric attracts educated talent who in turn attract employers who attract more talent; the smallest town now has the seeds of future greatness, independent of the vagaries of geography and history.

Could your city compete?

Yes, you bet!