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How the IoT is at the very heart of the smart city

Smart cities are the future, there’s no doubt about it. With many existing and emerging challenges, exacerbated by growing populations and dwindling resources, it is critical that municipalities control and manage many areas more effectively. These include water and electricity, traffic, parking, garbage disposal and sewage, to name but a few.

Connected devices and the ability to analyze the data they provide – a concept now commonly referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) – are essential for more effective and efficient management. The IoT is at the very heart of the smart city, and local governments should consider deploying sensors and using existing ones to harness the data they need to move their cities into the future.

Asset and resource management

Key to the smart city concept is the ability to manage assets and resources more efficiently. This requires data from several thousand data capture points – called “connected devices” – to instantly transmit information to a central server. The IoT provides the platform and network for this data collection and transfer, and the resulting analysis and response. These devices include water and electricity meters, environmental sensors, flow meters, level sensors, parking sensors, a variety of tracking devices, RFID readers and more. The potential applications for these are endless and can be used to revolutionize asset management, service delivery, and resource allocation, among other areas.

Manage flows and traffic jams

For example, IoT sensors and data analytics can be used very effectively in managing traffic flows and traffic congestion. Using traffic sensors, parking sensors and other connected devices, valuable real-time data can be collected on road usage and parking location statistics. This information can be passed on to authorities, who can help with capacity planning and help citizens make more informed decisions about their route and parking planning. If motorists are empowered to avoid traffic jams, they are able to save time that would otherwise be wasted sitting in traffic jams. This leads to more productive citizens, and the benefits of this will be felt as an impact in many areas.

Smart meters

Smart metering solutions, which are already being applied to some extent, can also help municipalities and citizens make the most of their resources. Smart meters can monitor usage, send statistics, provide analytics, and allow users to make more informed decisions about their use of utilities such as water and electricity. They can also be used to turn the power on and off if needed.

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Service monitoring and maintenance

In addition, IoT devices can be used in the field of service monitoring and maintenance. Sensors are able to transmit outage and service failure data directly to maintenance fleets, which are able to respond with optimized routing and proactive service schedules, avoiding long delays and costly downtime . Ultimately, the power of IoT for the smart city lies in providing information for analysis, which can then be used to make more efficient and informed planning and procurement decisions.

In addition to connected sensor networks, it is essential for smart cities to take advantage of a network operations center (NOC), which is essentially the nerve center of any IoT implementation. The NOC is the hub for collecting all relevant data from all connected endpoints and displaying this data in useful graphs showing performance levels and failures. The NOC is also essential for analyzing data to identify trends and make predictions, so that corrective action can be taken or service personnel can be dispatched and monitored for effective fault investigation and resolution.

Asset tracking, monitoring and management

IoT can also be used to help municipalities with asset tracking, monitoring, and management, including real-time asset monitoring and management, workforce tracking, and performance analytics. productivity. This ties in with the smart city concept of effectiveness and efficiency, helping to protect assets against fraud, misuse and theft, and to monitor and manage maintenance teams. IoT technology can, for example, provide advance notification of incidents of fraud, theft and abuse in order to limit the consequences or avoid such occurrences altogether. Assets are needed to deliver services and, thanks to the IoT, the city as well as its customers can now obtain an audit trail and monitor service delivery and efficiency.

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Measure and reconcile system data

IoT solutions can also measure and reconcile system data across all smart city services and thus provide an undisputed and secure view of service-related metrics. The IoT provides up-to-date geolocation analysis as well as productivity tracking. It enables optimal routing and sizing of labor and provides proof of efficiency. Smart cities need it to reduce costs and eliminate duplication and waste of resources, as well as to enforce compliance. The IoT enables proactive rather than reactive maintenance, increasing service levels and avoiding costly downtime. This in turn results in lower rates and service charges.

Opportunity in African cities

The smart city concept can be applied in any country in the world, and many European cities have made great strides in this regard. African cities face many unique challenges, including lack of infrastructure. However, while this may be seen as a problem, it is also an opportunity, as infrastructure can be deployed to support IoT, connected devices and smart cities from the outset, ensuring solutions can be developed taking into account the requirements. Cities in Africa need to partner with vendors and solution providers who can identify, develop and implement the unique solutions needed to meet the needs and challenges they face.