Everything can be smart: Key traits of the newest smart cities – Part 2

Sergei Vardomatski, CEO at HQSoftware

According to the IoT analytics, smart cities constitute 20% of IoT projects around the world. We seen a few traits yesterday in Part 1 of the article. The rest will be discussed today in the 2nd part.

If a standard scheme of energy supplying transports electricity into consumers’ homes in a one-way direction, the smart energy grid will make a two-way dialog exchange between the utility and its customers.

Smart city traits:

      • Smart energy

This is a developing system of communications, controls, new technologies tools working together to make the grid more efficient, more reliable, more secure, and greener. The smart grid enables implementations of new technologies along with alternative renewable energy resources, such as wind, solar energy production, etc, says Sergei Vardomatski, CEO at HQSoftware.

How does it work? The threat of electricity disruption can provoke a domino effect, when failures affect communications, security, traffic, banking and give rise to a chain of threats. The smart grid makes them better prepared for outages due to its two-way interaction, automatically rerouting to another knot of the grid.

Thus, the mission of the smart grid is to spread the generated energy dynamically according to consumers’ needs. The main problem of any energy grid is over-consumption, when everyone wakes up in the morning and turns on the teapots, or a limited number of devices work altogether. It means there are obvious peaks and declines in consumption. And technically, it is almost impossible to store electricity on a standard network scale(although large amounts of funding are being put into research into this).

So, up-to-date big generators should adapt to potential capacity changes. But, it’s rather difficult because a power plant can’t be just “switched off”.

The smart network also allows to make many personal mini-generators as a part of the network, turning consumers into providers. As a result, a solar battery on a roof of a house, a battery of an electric vehicle can give energy to the grid, and then, when consumers need energy, they will take excess electricity from there, when required. So, a need is much more interconnected electricity grid with sophisticated sensoring and metering, intelligent pricing, decentralised control, two-way transporting and storage capability.

This is also a step to alternative energy consumption. For example, one of the traits of a smart city is a usage of solar batteries on buildings’ roofs. It makes sense in countries with a warm climate and during the summer time. Generally, unconventional ways of renewable energy resources became a breakthrough in smart city development. Scholars have been investigating alternative ways for refilling and learned to elicit offshore wind energy, hydroelectricity, algae fuel, marine and hydrokinetic energy, etc.

Speaking about electricity, we can mention Barcelona’s project showcased first on Smart City World Expo in 2012. The city has implemented a smart lighting system in the streets. Lamps have sensors, which automatically remove or add brightness, depending on the presence of pedestrians nearby.

The lanterns also have equipment for Wi-Fi and sensors that monitor information about the ambient air, transmitting information to the government service. As a result, energy consumption in the urban lighting system reduced by 30%, and the annual energy savings are estimated at $37 million (€31.24 million).

By the way, we developed a similar system for our client who wanted to build a smart lighting project. He planned to equip each bulb with Wi-Fi, and make the lighting balanced, depending on the presence of people nearby. The system was implemented inside the factory in Germany. Now, there, the light is switched on automatically, when a worker with a Wi-Fi signal sent by his smartphone appears in this zone.

One more idea on agenda is e-transport acquisition. Today, Europe struggles for building electro refilling stations. Norway has become a leader. The country can be proud of high quantity of sold e-cars on the inner market – about 37% in 2017, and it is expected to achieve 100% by 2025. According to one more research, China is about to reach top EV market by 2020, outpacing Norway.

We could also mention that a lot of European countries acquire e-buses as urban transport. Now, electro buses gain popularity.

        • Smart transport

Toyota has developed an Intelligent Transport Systems Proving Ground at the Hitachi-Fuji centre to showcase its smart transport project combining people, roads and vehicles. It was undertaken to reduce traffic accidents. Environment-friendly comfortable transport interacts with the roads and pedestrians. Intersection road equipment was provided with transmitters and sensors for appropriate communications and detections: road-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-pedestrian.

The system helps drivers to prevent from overlooking or missing red lights. The system transmits traffic signal information to vehicles for the direction which vehicles are going. In cases that vehicles determine that the traffic signal is red, but their speed limit is not reduced, voice guide warns a driver about the stop signal. In addition, right-turn collision prevention system works to exclude collisions with pedestrians crossing the road and other oncoming vehicles. It is possible thanks to vehicle and pedestrian detection sensors.

A support system for detecting surrounding vehicles works in a similar way; the only difference is that transmitters send signals from the car to another car.

Let’s also consider Barcelona’s way further, because this city is recognised as a leader in IoT implementation. Barcelona’s digital bus stations offer not only route info but also USB-sockets, free Wi-Fi and QR-codes to download a mobile app informing about everything in the city.

Car’s owners are at the next level in smart transportation. Smart transport technologies don’t include only a smart car equipped with GPS-navigation and an emergency call system in case of an incident. There is also such an idea as a smart parking. Every parking place has a sensor sending the status ‘vacant’ or ‘busy’ to the mobile app.

Moreover, smart parking system informs about the nearest free place. Such implementation has significantly relieved the roads from traffic jams, save drivers’ time for searching a parking place. Smart parking has got its results, even earning money, because daily sales of all parking places bring a higher income in contrast to the situation when people know nothing about vacant places on parkings.

          • Internet of Things healthcare

The field might be rather creative. Using IoT tech stack and making medical things smarter, we can improve a service and reorganise all the medical system, for instance, by reducing paper work or automating processes.

Once, HQSoftware has delivered a project for the medical equipment manufacturer aiming to fully control a dental chair. The customer was going to design a new dental chair that would have an inbuilt minicomputer with a touch screen. We had an unusual challenge to create software in order to choose proper hardware for it further. As a result, we built a solution that runs on devices through a web application smoothly. For the matter, we explored adjustments the new interface must have, worked out a prototype and, then, tested it on different devices with different screen sizes (PC, smartphone, tablet, laptop) to ensure qualitative work.

The new interface was elaborated to control the work speed of dental equipment, brightness of lighting, sounds, movement. In addition, the interface has a drag-and-drop panel allowing to customise preferable settings.

For the best control of the chair during a surgery, we made it driven by several persons. We considered 2 ways for connection: by request and by a QR-code. In case of connection “by request”, a user sends another one an invitation to join the system. The second way allows him to join independently, just by scanning a QR-code. Thereby, a dentist can control the chair as well as his assistants do.

            • Smart territory improvement

One more time about Barcelona. The city uses The Internet of Things for irrigation and measurement of a water level in urban fountains. Sensors monitor humidity indexes and precipitations so that, in the arid climate of Barcelona, the only reason for watering is drought. As a result, the system saves approximately $555 (€468.53) thousand per year.

Compiling data for city’s support in real-time mode governments can spend the same money as needed just at that moment. Accordingly, we can exclude overspending and under-funding, save reserves that they can spend reasonably. The smart city concept allows to reconsider modern life support models to make them efficient.

The author of this blog is Sergei Vardomatski, CEO at HQSoftware

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