The Internet of Things Is Already a Big Part of City Life

We've been hearing about how the Internet of Things is coming soon and will be integrated into smart cities. But in reality, it is already here, and starting to affect how we live and work in the cities. Technology professionals should be aware of the opportunities for IoT and smart city solutions.

Is “Smart” Helping Your City?

Internet of Things technology will revolutionize our cities, and the change is already taking effect as towns become smarter on many levels. From traffic to shopping, from entertainment to essential systems, IoT-enabled services are helping improve our lives, but this is only the beginning.

The Internet of Things Hits the Road

In many countries, we’re already in the early stages of smart motorways that help route traffic efficiently and can help navigate around delays or accidents faster than traditional roads.

When smart cars become common, these roads, connected by 5G networks, will group vehicles for efficiency and reduce driving gaps to improve traffic flow. They can enforce safe driving habits, variable speed limits, and report dangerous behavior. IoT and smart cities will kick in car makers and dealers build future cars based around these systems that are interoperable with each other.

50 Cities That Could Benefit from Smart City Infrastructure

In cities, smart parking services can tell us where there are spaces, and you can pay via app or smartcard. It won’t be long before these services can guide us to a specific parking bay, nearest to the destination. For companies that have lots of vehicles, fleet suppliers and managers already benefit from  IoT features such as driver tracking and failure rate monitoring.

To encourage people who don’t own cars, on-demand car services making it accessible for everyone to benefit from customized trips. At the same time, buses and trains have already moved to up-to-the-minute timing, to help improve accuracy, while data systems measure passenger flows to cope with changing demand. While this use of IoT benefits travelers and helps the city updates its transportation systems, the benefits will impact many related businesses.

Olli by Local Motors

Courtesy of Local Motors

The IoT for People About Town

Once in town, smart cities already use digital signage to direct people around. This allows tourism boards and marketers to highlight a city’s upcoming attractions, or help direct people to whatever is on that day.

We see stores that are already using IoT to help monitor stock and improve the customer experience with staff using tablets to provide extra information and sales points. Outside those stores, augmented reality window displays can engage shoppers as they pass and beacon technology can send messages and offers to people’s phones.

Key to the success of any city will be accessibility to this data and services. If every business and person is using different apps for each part of their journey, creating a singular smart city becomes a major issue. At this point, progressive websites or federated apps that link others together will be essential to help build up the knowledge graph that a city needs to learn from its people.

augmented reality

All of this is happening today, proving that smart cities and the Internet of Things is already here. But in these early stages, it is happening in small precincts or districts.

Only when an entire town or city is connected will the real power of the IoT become apparent, as it helps bring people together, make their services more accessible and help the city authorities manage their resources and infrastructure more efficiently.

Read more about IoT and smart cities around the country on TechCo

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Written by:
IT manager and independent journalist, designer, entrepreneur and blogger living in Jersey with his dog Soul
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