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Implementing Smart City leveraging IoT and connected technology helps promote economic development, improve infrastructure and environment, enhance transportation systems and optimize costs of managing public assets.

To cope with increasing population, hyper-urbanization, globalization as well as to ensure economic and environmental stability, cities are now focusing on becoming smart cities. The smart city is a concept of utilizing technologies and connected data sensors to enhance and become powerful in terms of infrastructure and city operations. This includes monitoring and managing of public assets, transportation systems, citizens, power plants, water supplies, information systems, civil bodies, and other community services.

Connected technologies and IoT solutions for smart cities play important roles in transforming cities into smart cities. Implementing smart city with IoT and connected technology helps enhance the quality, performance, and interactivity of urban services, optimize resources and reduce costs.

Let’s see the various components of smart city and their impact in the IoT era:

  1. Smart Infrastructure

The global market for smart urban infrastructure in smart cities, include advanced connected streets, smart parking, smart lighting, and other transportation innovations. Here’s how they work:

  • Smart Lighting: With smart lighting, city authorities can keep real-time tracking of lighting to ensure optimized illumination and deliver demand-based lighting in different zones. Smart lighting also helps in daylight harvesting and save energy by dimming out sectors with no occupancies For e.g. parking lots can be dimmed during work hours and when a car is entering, it will be detected and appropriate sectors can be illuminated, while others can be kept at diffused setting.
  • Connected Streets: Connected and smart streets are capable of acquiring data and delivering information and services to and from millions of devices, which includes information about traffic, road blockages, roadworks, etc. This helps in efficient management of resources and people to enhance public transportation and the urban landscape.
  • Smart Parking Management: Smart parking management system can be used to find the vacant location for a vehicle at different public places. Smart Parking’s In-Ground Vehicle Detection Sensors are core technologies, playing a key part in the Smart Parking solution that is revolutionizing how drivers in the malls and city centers can find an available parking space. Wireless sensors are embedded into parking spaces, transmitting data on the timing and duration of the space used via local signal processors into a central parking management application. Smart Parking reduces congestion, decreases vehicle emissions, lowers enforcement costs and cuts driver stress. For effective deployment of smart parking technologies, each device needs to have a reliable connectivity with the cloud servers.
  • Connected Charging Stations: Smart infrastructure also includes implementing charging stations in parking systems, city fleets, shopping malls and buildings, airports, and bus stations across the city. Electronic vehicle (EV) charging platforms can be integrated with IoT to streamline the operations of EV charging and addresses the impact of the power grid.
  1. Smart Buildings & Properties

Smart buildings utilize different systems to ensure safety and security of buildings, maintenance of assets and overall health of the surrounding.

  • Safety & Security Systems: These include implementing remote monitoring, biometrics, IP surveillance cameras, and wireless alarms to reduce unauthorized access to buildings and chances of thefts. It also includes utilizing Perimeter Access Control to stop access to restricted areas of the property and detect people in non-authorized areas.
  • Smart Garden & Sprinkler System: Smart sprinkler system synced with connected technologies and cloud can be used to water plants with the assurance that plants get the right amount of water. Smart garden devices can also perform tasks such as measuring soil moisture and levels of fertilizer, helping the city authorities to save on water bill (smart sprinkler devices use weather reports and automatically adjust their schedule to stay off when it rains), and keep the grass from overgrowing in the convenient way (robot lawnmowers).
  • Smart Heating & Ventilation: Smart heating and ventilation systems monitor various parameters such as temperature, pressure, vibration, humidity of the buildings and properties such as movie theatres, and historical monuments. Wireless sensor network deployment is the key to ensuring appropriate heating and ventilation. These sensors also collect data to optimize the HVAC systems, improving their efficiency and performance in the buildings.
  1. Smart Industrial Environment

Industrial environments present unique opportunities for developing applications associated with the Internet of things and connected technologies which can be utilized in the following areas:

  • Forest Fire Detection: Helps in monitoring of combustion gases and preemptive fire conditions to define alert zones.
  • Air/Noise Pollution: Helps in controlling of CO2 emissions of factories, pollution emitted by cars and toxic gases generated on farms.
  • Snow Level Monitoring: Helps in identifying the real-time condition of ski tracks, allowing security corporations for avalanche prevention.
  • Landslide and Avalanche Avoidance: Helps in monitoring of soil moisture, earth density, as well as vibrations to identify dangerous patterns in land conditions.
  • Earthquake Early Detection: Helps in detecting the chances of tremors by utilizing distributed controls at specific places of tremors.
  • Liquid Presence: Helps in detecting the presence of liquid in data centers, building grounds, and warehouses to prevent breakdowns and corrosion
  • Radiation Levels: Helps in distributed measurement of radiation levels in nuclear power stations surroundings to generate leakage alerts
  • Explosive and Hazardous Gases: Helps in detecting gas levels and leakages in chemical factories, industrial environments, and inside mines
  1. Smart City Services

Smart city services include services for public safety and emergencies.  Below are the key areas where IoT and connected technologies can help:

  • Smart Kiosk: Smart kiosks play an important role in providing different city services to the public such as Wi-Fi services, 24×7 IP surveillance cameras and analytics, Digital signage for advertisement and public announcements. In some cases, free video calling and free mobile charging station, as well as environmental sensor integration can also be implemented. Smart kiosks also provide information about restaurants, retail stores, and events in the immediate area. It can also provide mapping for visitors and can sync with smartphones to give additional data as needed.
  • Monitoring of Risky Areas: Sensors (cameras, street lights) and actuators for real-time monitoring can be implemented in risky areas or areas prone to accidents. Upon detecting any crime, or mishap, these sensors can alert the citizens to avoid such areas temporarily.
  • Public Security: IoT sensors can be installed at public organizations and houses to protect citizens and provide real-time information to fire and police departments when it detects a theft.
  • Fire/Explosion Management: Smart fire sensors can detect and automatically take actions based on the level of severity, such as detecting false alarms, informing firefighters and ambulance, blocking off nearby streets/buildings on the requirement, helping people to evacuate, and coordinating rescue drones and robots.
  • Automatic Health-Care Dispatch: Smart healthcare devices can be implemented at public places to provide 24/7 health care for patients like dispensing medicines and drugs to patients. These devices can also be used to call an ambulance to pick up the patients in cases of emergencies.
  1. Smart Energy Management

Here’s how cities can implement smart energy management:

  • Smart Grid: Smart grids are digitally monitored, self-healing energy systems that deliver electricity or gas from generation sources. Smart grid solutions can be across industrial, residential as well as in transmission and distribution projects. Various IoT solutions like gateways can be used to achieve energy conservation at both the transmission level and consumer level. For e.g., gateways can provide a broader view of energy distribution patterns to utility companies with high connectivity and real-time analytics. Also, it develops a Demand-Response mechanism for the utility providers to optimize energy distribution based on the consumption patterns.
  • Smart Meters: Smart meters can be used in residential and industrial metering sectors for electricity and gas meters where there is a need to identify the real-time information on energy usage. Consumers and utilities with smart meters can monitor their energy consumption. Moreover, energy analytics, reports, and public dashboards can be also accessed over the internet using mobile applications integrated with these smart meters.
  1. Smart Water Management

IoT and connected devices enable smart water management in the following ways:

  • Potable Water Monitoring: Monitors the quality of tap water in the cities.
  • Chemical Leakage: Identifies leakages and wastes of factories in rivers.
  • Swimming Pool Remote Measurement: Controls the swimming pool conditions remotely.
  • Pollution Levels in the Sea: Controls the occurrence of leakages and wastes in the sea.
  • Water Outflows: Detects of liquid presence outside tanks and pressure variations along pipes.
  • River Floods: Monitors water level variations in rivers, dams, and reservoirs.
  1. Smart Waste Management

Smart solutions for tracking wastes help municipalities and waste service managers the ability to optimize wastes, reduce operational costs, and better address the environmental issues associated with an inefficient waste collection.

Implementation of a smart city comes with enormous opportunities to transform the lives of people and improve the overall city infrastructure and operations. Smart sensor networks, Internet of Things (IoT) and connected technologies are the key solutions for smart city implementation.

 

 Photo by Arturo Castaneyra on Unsplash

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The Human touch of IoT´s CEOs

A few days before Christmas holidays, I received an email from a customer that said “... I want to tell you that I have really appreciated your help, your professional approach and your “human touch”: they are as important as knowledge is …”.

Moved by the Christmas spirit that surround us these days, made me change my priorities of publishing the next articles and I decided to dedicate a few lines to what I consider a very important issue: What is the human touch value of the CEOs in the IoT?

I do not intend to convert this article into an analysis of the types of CEOs, or a list of the best CEOs of IoT companies (for that there will be time). 

My objective today is in making IoT´s CEOs aware, especially those of large multinationals, of their responsibility to print a human touch on their actions and decisions. Not only will the stability and quality of work of millions of people depend on them, but also the conservation of our planet in favourable conditions for future generations.

The Human touch of IoT´s CEOs to save the World

Global Warming is very real.  Even if greenhouse gas concentrations stabilized today, the planet would continue to warm by about 0.6°C over the next century because of greenhouses gases already in the atmosphere. Its effects are already so visible that no one doubts its catastrophic consequences.

We know that the IoT can help in many ways to monitor and control Global Warning, and there are many great stories of how companies are making use of IoT technology to help save water, money … and the planet. 

In  the article “3 ways businesses can use the internet of things to save the environment“, Jayraj Nair - Global Head of IoT, Vice President Wipro-, suggest  a few steps that business leaders could take to lessen the effects of these barriers and set their companies on the right path to become champions of a more sustainable and connected future.

1.       Emphasize digital citizenship and individual responsibility

2.       Share knowledge and resources across departments

3.       Collaborate to create guidelines for tech development

We should reward those IoT´s CEOs who follow the slogan “ We develop the IoT that Save the World!..

The Human touch of IoT´s CEOs to build ethic AI

When I wrote  “Internet of Things – Kings and Servants” I gave great importance to the CEOs visionaries of the companies that were destined to change the world of the 21st century. CEOs like Sundar Pichai (Google) or Satya Nadella (Microsoft) have been responsible from conceptual shift for their companies, moving from “mobile strategy” to “cloud and artificial intelligence”.

Could we avoid psychopath and sociopath robots? CEOs of the Tech Giants companies need to influence in developers of AI the human touch. We do not want to live with fear surrounding by not ethic AI machines and robots. 

IoT´s CEOs involved in Artificial Intelligence must believe that machines and robots will help us to be better people. They need to boost the challenge in our future society and make sure that their Robots and Artificial Intelligence not only pursue productivity and profit but also other values eg justice, opportunity, freedom, compassion.

The Human touch of IoT´s CEOs to ensure democracy

We cannot conceive democracy today without the free use of technology. Technology, on the other hand, that is more difficult to control by citizens. Is it possible to democratize the technology, not only the Internet of Things? Could we avoid that a handful of companies come to dominate the Technology? and therefore our Democracies.

The temptation of the power is great in the IoT´s CEOs of the companies that manipulate huge amount of data of the people, of the intelligent devices at their whim.

I thought at some point that the Countries could prevent the creation of these monsters, but their powers already transcend the States. I fear that the fight of egos, in the heights in which these CEOs live, give priority to the Highlander philosophy "Only one can be left!" And drag the dormant democracies for their technology into the vacuum of complacency.

Today more than ever, we need CEOs with a human touch that ensures the health of our democracies.

The Human touch of IoT´s CEOs to ensure equality of job opportunities

Which IoT companies have a culture that allow dissent between the CEOs and the employees? IoT´s CEOs need to understand that people are not going to do what they want them to do unless I engender equal commitment and passion on their part.

I have worked for many years in different technology companies, and I have regrettably proved that their business cultures, far from differentiating themselves, are more and more similar.

We all know cases of companies, including those of IoT, that abuse salaries of interns or inexperienced employees, but the problem of overqualification when applying to a new job is no less true. Many of us have heard numerous times: Sorry, you are overqualified. Not sure I can manage you.

I am convinced that a human touch on the part of the CEOs would help to correct these endemic problems of the current business culture. What are you waiting for?

The Human touch of CEOs to ensure a dignified life for the elderly

I was wondering a few years ago with the Smart Cities hype, How will be our life as retired workers in the Smart Cities we are building?.

In light of what I'm seeing, there are currently not many IoT´s CEOs that are worrying about the elderly. Of course, because, they consume less, they produce less, they do not understand the technology created for millennials or the digital native, the generations that is going to change the world.

Considering that all IoT´s CEOs, or at least that's what I want, will also be older people, a human touch in the investment of technology for the elderly will now make their lives more dignified in a few years.

Summary

In a time where digital premium on the physical, where business results are required not every quarter, but every day, in a time of robots, cryptocurrencies, virtual reality it is not easy to be a CEO with human touch. But to save the World, to make sure we build ethical AI, to ensure democracy in the technology, to ensure equality of job opportunities, to ensure a dignified life for the elderly, we need their human touch.

 

Thanks for your Likes, Comments and Shares

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Andrei Klubnikin is Senior Content Manager at R-Style Lab - custom software development company (IoT, Web, Mobile) with a representative office in San Francisco, CA and dev center in Belarus, Europe. Andrew is a tech geek interested in everything about IoT, web and mobile development. He’s been a tech blogger since 2011.
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The companies behind smart home devices are tasked with performing something of a balancing act: customers want full featured devices with the convenience of easy purchasing and control over their homes by voice, but those features can be at odds with the cumbersome security measures that would ensure greater safety.
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This is my first post on IoT Central.  Looking forward to hearing more about IoT from the members.  

I am curious to see what people think of the MKR Labs report on how hackers can turn your Amazon Echo into a listening device.  According to the report, tt seems one of Amazon's most popular and new products is vulnerable to "a physical attack that allows an attacker to gain a root shell on the underlying Linux operating system and install malware without leaving physical evidence of tampering."  This type of malware can give hackers remote access to your Echo.  It will also give them the ability to grab customer authentication tokens and the ability to stream live microphone audio to any other remote services without altering the functionality of the device.  

Today, GearBrain did a post on this news.  I am curious to see what others think about this type of hacking and how big of an issue you think this is to Amazon and other manufacturers of voice controlled digital assistants like Echo.  

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5 Steps to Creating a Secure Smart Home

First came smartphones, equipped with the ability to set alarms and calendar notifications, reminders, and other convenient apps and services to make our lives easier. Taking that a step further are “smart homes” or automated homes, which allow users to remotely control devices in the home such as lights, televisions, and even toilets and water pumps, using a smartphone or computer. Aside from remote control, however, smart systems in homes can also help make the home more adaptable. For example, Nest is a smart system that learns the home’s inhabitants’ schedules and preferences to heat or cool the house for maximum efficiency and comfort. Sounds great, right? Many people think so, which is why the industry is projected to keep growing quickly from 48 billion in 2012 to an estimated $115 billion by 2019

Smart homes are among the first steps toward mass adoption of the Internet of Things (electronic devices connected to both the Internet and to each other for data collection and sharing), but there are some major security concerns involved with their implementation. Kashmir Hill, a writer for Forbes, revealed that she was able to access 8 smart home systems simply by searching for a list of the homes on Google. The company that had set up these homes did not require a username or password, allowing Hill to start monkeying with the homes’ lights and other devices at once. After alerting the owners to the real security risks implicated by these readily-available controls, Hill did some more research on the security of smart homes—and found out that precautions had been less than stellar in protecting homes from cybercrime.

The Threat of Cybercrime

Neglecting to add password protection and allowing the controls to show up in search engines were a combination of user and company error, but Insteon, which installed these systems, hasn’t improved their systems that much. Security professionals revealed it would be easy to hack the passwords, making homes vulnerable to cybercrime. Security issues are a major worldwide problem, with 80-90 million cybersecurity events per year, 70% of which go undetected. Because attacks on smart homes leave families vulnerable to both identity theft and physical intrusion, a solid cybersecurity system is an absolute must. Here are 5 tips for creating a secure smart home and avoiding breaches.

1. Choose the Right Company

As security experts discovered, thwarting hackers isn’t at the top of many companies’ to-do list when putting out smart home systems. As a consumer, it’s important to shop around and ask questions about the systems’ security to ensure adequate measures have been taken to make sure it’s difficult for hackers to access the homes’ devices. Ask about password protection, encryption use, and how data is collected, used, and stored.

2. Set Up Basic Security

As a smart home owner, you’ll need to be sure that your devices can’t be accessed by strangers with ease. Take a look at the credentials required for each app and portal that can access your devices, and change any default PIN numbers and passwords to reduce the chance that an unauthorized person could access your data. Ensuring your security configurations are correct is essential to a strong smart home security system. Finally, firewall and anti-virus software will help keep your home safe. Your WiFi security should be strong as well, though it’s a myth that smart devices can only be access on the home’s WiFi systems. 

3. Use Biometrics and Wearables

Biometrics are extremely helpful in creating strong security systems. Fingerprint scanning, facial or voice recognition, and even heart rate variability from wearable smart devices can help to enhance security and ensure that no one but the main user has access to systems and devices unless granted permission. 

4. Keep Smart Devices Updated

Updating computer systems can be a pain, but not keeping up with these security updates can leave devices vulnerable to attack. Keep all your devices up to date, including both your homes’ devices, and the devices you use to control them. 

5. Install Alerts 

There are applications available that can alert users if there has been an unauthorized attempt to access a connected device. It’s a good idea to install one of these apps (choosing an option that will allow alerts to be accepted or declined when triggered) to help monitor the activity on your smart home system. 

An Exciting Development 

As the technology advances, smart homes will become more and more useful to their inhabitants, providing personalization and reminders that can enhance everyday life. However, security risks involved with these systems are ever-present, and careful precautions should be taken to avoid attacks. Don’t be a victim of theft—consider cybersecurity carefully when updating your home.  

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DIY Home Automation

Home Automation DIY Case Study

The following is from a Mind Commerce interview with residential owner/installer/operator: 

I got into the home automation craze by accident when one of my managers described what he was doing.  After looking at it, the added convenience, security, and cost savings made me a believer.  The overall category of devices that I use are the Internet of Things (IoT).

My setup is as follows:

  • I have an Amazon Echo that allows me to issue voice commands to the majority of my IoT devices.  It also will play music from my Amazon Prime account and allow me to order merchandise (all voice of course).  It additionally allows me to keep a TODO and shopping list that is synchronized to my Alexa app on my iPhone.  As I think of items, I just tell Alexa (the name for the Echo), and she will add the items to the list.  I use this all the time.  You can also set timers and alarms vocally, which is another well-used feature.  There's tons more.  The Echo talks WiFi.
  • I use a Wink Hub to interface the Echo to devices that don't directly talk over WiFi, or that the Echo doesn't directly support.  The Wink Hub talks Z-Wave, Zigbee, WiFi, and Lutron's proprietary communications (dimmers).  The Wink Hub also has a nice APP that lets me control everything directly from my cellphone if I want.
  • I use Luton dimmers that allow me to turn on, turn off, or set the dimming level for my most commonly used lights.  The echo supports this so I can say "Alexa set living room lights to XX%" and it happens.
  • I have a Rain Machine which is a connected sprinkler controller.  I can turn on stations from the Echo, but I don't.  What it allows me to do is to set the watering parameters and then it connects to NOAA and it will modify my preferences based on how much rain has fallen.  Money saver.  It has a great APP and will tell me how much each station actually watered per week.  A real money saver in Florida.
  • The Ecobee 3 thermostat was an expensive but awesome IoT purchase that also saved me a lot of money this past winter.  It is very smart and connects to the Echo directly (WiFi).  I can tell Alexa to raise or lower the temperature by voice.  Setup couldn't be any simpler, and the APP is awesome.  Conventional wisdom in the winter is to lower your temperature at night and then have it increase before you wake to save money.  Wrong!  The Ecobee tracks when your fan and compressor run (view on the website).  I found out that turning the temperature down by 4 degrees overnight was causing my heat strips (expensive) to turn on for a couple of hours around 5AM to bring the temperature back up.  I was much better off just leaving it one degree less all the time.
  • For my garage door controller, I bought an IoT box that allows me to view the status of the garage door and to remotely open or close the door by using the Wink APP.  Really nice when I can't remember if I closed the door, or left it open.  This doesn't work with the Echo by design (having a crook yell into your house "Alexa open the garage door" wouldn't be a good thing).
  • Nest Cam is an awesome security device.  When I'm on travel I can view what's going on in the house and even hear what's going on.  It's got 1080p resolution and night IR capability (see at night with the lights off).  I can even talk to my cat through it.  I pay for the cloud recording service, so when it's on, a month of recording is held on the cloud, which would be useful if the house is ever robbed.  The problem is I don't want it recording while I'm home.  That is solved by...
  • Leviton makes smart bricks that plug into an outlet and let you plug an appliance (anything) into it and control that appliance on/off state through Wink or the Echo.  So when I leave, I can just vocally tell the Nest Cam to turn on, or if I forget, I can just use the Wink APP to turn it on remotely.  I use these to control the Nest Cam, my DirecTV internet device, and my Amazon Fire TV.  Whey have them sucking energy all the time when I use them maybe 2% of the time?

As an advanced user*, he also had this to say:

  • The is a function call IFTT (If This Then That) that works with the Echo, Wink and the IoT devices to allow creation of recipes that handle what to do if something happens.  For example, I set up an IFTT that when I ask the Echo where my cellphone is, the IFTT will call the phone so it rings.  The possibilities are limitless.  Think Geo-fencing or linking input from IoT sensors to automatically cause actions.

*Note: Remember, this is a more advanced, tech user.  However, IoT is increasingly becoming part of the consumer lexicon!!

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