As Bizety reported earlier in our segment, Industrial IoT is hailed as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, promising to unleash trillions of dollars of value into the global economy by some estimates.
The drive to innovate and construct smart cities falls within the purview of this technological revolution, and has served as a point of focus many public officials and corporate service providers interested in ushering into reality this vision of a hyper-connected future, in which billions of devices within a municipal area communicate with each other via actuators and sensors linked through wired and wireless networks. Indeed, the smart city is one of the most promising segments of IoT that has attracted intense interest and publicity in recent months.
Navigant predicts that smart city technology will account for $27.5 billion in the worldwide market by 2023 and promises to generate $12.1 billion in just this year alone.
Public officials are coming around to the promise of IIoT and the staggering financial benefits associated with it. This was not always the case. As of 2013, a research report had found that just one of the 25 metropolitan planning organizations tasked with guiding America’s largest cities into the future had made provisions in their plans to accommodate self-driving cars.
Hence, the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, which will endow $40 million to the mid-sized city with the most promising urban innovation proposal, has served as a major catalyst for public interest in IIoT. This past Saturday, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the seven finalists (Austin, Denver, Columbus, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Portland, Kansas City) at South by Southwest, joined at the podium by the mayors of the aforementioned cities. The White House also announced plans to invest more than $160 million in smart cities late last year.
AT&T and Verizon Race to Dominate US Smart Cities
The race to be dominant in developing smart cities is on, not only among municipalities and metro areas, but among telcos as well. AT&T, for instance, has unveiled its own Smart Cities Initiative which promises to use its IoT innovations in order “to create impactful solutions for cities and forming alliances with technology leaders and industry organizations.” Under this framework, AT&T has allied with other companies such as Qualcomm, Cisco, Deloitte, Ericsson, GE, IBM, and Intel, as well as city officials in Atlanta, Chicago, and Dallas. According to its press release, AT&T’s initiative aims to provide innovative solutions in several categories including the following:
- Infrastructure – Cities will be able to remotely monitor the conditions of roads, bridges, buildings, parks and other venues and identify dangerous roadways during freezing weather or detect damaged traffic infrastructure.
- Citizen Engagement – Mobile apps can assist people on their daily commutes, relaying near real-time information regarding traffic jams, traffic light outages, and parking space availability to users through mobile devices.
- Transportation – Digital signage will let commuters know bus and train schedules and of any delays in near real-time and allow them to determine whether alternative modes of transportation (i.e. renting electric bikes) will be more efficient.
- Public Safety – Cities will be better able to monitor and manage pedestrian traffic at large events and spaces such as stadiums, parks, and busy intersections. Gun fire detection technology helps law enforcement know where a shooting occurred.
Not to be outdone, key rival Verizon has also announced that smart cities would be a prominent part of its long term strategy. According to Marni Walden, EVP and president of product innovation, Verizon currently has a series of test pilots undergoing field trials in American cities on the East and West Coast: “One portion of IoT that we’re really excited about is smart cities. We’ve got a number of pilots out there, one with Savannah, Georgia, others that we’ll talk about later this year.”
Verizon also made a push into smart cars by acquiring Hughes Telematics, which provides real-time voice and data communications for automobiles and has announced its own suite of initiatives in order to spur IoT adoption on an industrial scale. Elsewhere in the world, telco and telco manufacturers have been inking smart city deals with municipal authorities.
Huawei’s OpenLab in Munich
Huawei unveiled its first OpenLab in Munich on Monday, which it touted as “a new center of excellence to foster joint, customer and business-driven ICT innovation with partners. Huawei’s Munich Openlab will drive innovation in areas including the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and big data, to build safer and smarter cities.” Huawei envisions a global network of interconnected OpenLabs which will serve as incubators of innovation through joint research by industry partners and other organizations.
In related news, Huawei also announced at CeBit 2016 a smart city connected lighting solution designed with multi-level intelligent control. The Connected City Lighting Solution promises to reduce municipal lighting energy consumption by up to 80% and utilizes a GIS-based management system that will enable cities to calibrate the activities of each street lamp.
This solution, powered by 6LoWPAN sensor technology, works to reduce massive energy wastage by “providing multi-level smart controls, which comprise network smart controls on the first level and local smart controls on a secondary level. The agile IoT gateways and street lamp controllers are equipped with lightweight components to execute lighting policies and deliver a two-level localized decision-making mechanism. When the uplink network of agile gateways fails, local control protocols are enforced.”
ZTE debuts mHealth Terminal in Partnership with City of Dusseldorf
ZTE has inked a deal with Dusseldorf’s City Health Department to provide all-in-one physical examination terminals, dubbed mHealth Terminals. The terminal has integrated functions for monitoring blood pressure, ECG, blood oxygen saturation, and more. This new technology uses IoT innovations and allows users to compare their health data and generate more comprehensive health records for patients.
ZTE envisions more seamless communication and transfer of information between persons and healthcare providers: “Doctors and families will be able to upload their health information through wireless transmission to the cloud. Doctors, hospitals and citizens could access the cloud through specific interfaces or mobile applications, and acquire their specific healthcare management services, such as living habits assessment and remote diagnosis.”