4 min reading
18 January 2023
18 January 2023
The Most Common Smart City IoT Applications in North America
Using the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to improve the quality of life in cities across North America is a growing trend. IoT and smart city technologies are becoming so popular because of the numerous benefits and advantages that can be derived from them. They can solve such problems as traffic congestion, air pollution, waste, and extensive energy usage. But what are the major pain points and platforms for IoT solutions in NA? We will try to break it down for you.
Getting to and from downtown is often a hassle in big cities. We talk about New York, Toronto, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and many others. So, one of the toughest challenges for major cities is traffic optimization. Population growth in the abovementioned cities is massive. Many cities experience huge immigrants inflow and which results in a lack of residential apartments and free parking spaces. That is why we are sure to state that heavy traffic flows, especially during peak hours, are a real problem in NA cities, and are more likely to be addressed within urban areas in the first place.
How Can Smart City Technology Help?
Using IoT in traffic management can help alleviate traffic jams and improve safety and efficiency. IoT devices can also analyze data and improve transportation systems. The Internet of Things has the potential to improve traffic patterns and provide more efficient communication, streamlined traffic management, and real-time accident notification.
IoT has been implemented in many smart cities already and has proven that it can reduce the problem of urban traffic congestion. Some cities have implemented smart traffic lights as part of smart city initiatives, while others introduce smart parking projects. Smart lighting systems and connected streetlights can adjust automatically according to traffic flow to reduce traffic jams as much as possible. Besides, reverse lines can be programmed following the same logic as well. Such a smart city initiative will improve infrastructure of a metropolis and help manage the traffic better.
Smart Parking Project
With the population growth, which we have already mentioned, parking spaces have become such a rare thing that people have to leave their cars kilometers away from their destination point. In turn, if smart cities connect parking spaces to a centralized system, people will be able to quickly locate parking spaces. Lengthy searches can be transformed into a few clicks search with location details and navigation through city streets. Open data on parking availability will facilitate smart city development even in the most urbanized region.
Smart city technologies are capable of reducing traffic Suite: 502, improving safety and reducing carbon emissions. Connected devices can also help with parking searches and the comfort increase of city residents.
Examples from New York
New York City has a connected car program that aims to improve mobility and reduce traffic jams. These systems use sensors to track the movement of the cars, including where they park and how long they stay. Some intelligent parking solutions even use vehicle feedback to guide waiting cars down the least-resistance route.
Traffic Lights Automation
Smart traffic signals in the city use a mix of sensors connected and dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) to monitor traffic and adjust light timing. These signals look like typical stoplights but are much smarter because they are based on real-time data connected (Shah et al., 2019). At some point, these smart technologies even can save energy as the light will not change too often.
Another smart technology, in a nutshell, is the E-Z pass, which allows drivers to pay tolls automatically (E-ZPass, 2022). This is a great way to cut down on commute time and reduce the number of accidents because of unexpected stops. Besides, such practice can positively influence air quality since fewer cars will stop at payment points, and there will be fewer CO emissions.
Waste management companies face many problems with garbage recycling and collection, especially in big cities. Smart city services, sometimes, simply lack time or resources for constant checks of rubbish bins. At the same time, when the waste container is full, city services don’t know about it immediately and it results in overloaded bins with rubbish all around. Air quality is affected because waste levels go up and it poses a threat to public safety.
What are the Benefits of Smart City Solutions?
Using connected sensors in waste management is a great way to reduce pollution. It can also increase the efficiency of waste collection, being cost-effective and reducing operational costs. Smart city waste management solutions enable cities to cut costs and improve environmental health. They save time and fuel and minimize waste pickup trips. They also help municipalities become more data-driven, helping them to manage services more effectively. In addition, they improve the efficiency of recycling efforts and decrease carbon emissions.
Collection Routes Optimization
One impactful IoT application for public utilities is the automated route optimization of garbage pickup trucks. This optimizes routes to minimize fuel consumption when emptying dumpsters. It also prioritizes areas that are needed to be cleaned quickly.
Bins’ Fullness Notifications
Another IoT application is smart garbage bins. These bins can compress waste and convey bin volume data over the Internet. These intelligent bins combine with other smart city solutions to improve waste collection efficiency. The system also enables municipalities to plan the better distribution of garbage bins.
Smart garbage bins can also be used to provide interactive instructions on how to dispose of different types of waste. This can increase recycling rates and help residents reduce their impact on the environment and air quality.
Smart city waste management solutions can be implemented by any municipality if city officials support the initiative. However, they require systemic coordination to work well and smart management integration. Depending on the municipality’s needs, smart solutions can be developed to help with specific tasks. They may include the use of sensors to monitor trash cans and light levels, as well as vibration and temperature.
Example from Calgary
A number of smart cities are already implementing IoT and smart solutions for waste management. For example, the City of Calgary has installed sensors coupled to a LoRa gateway in waste containers. These sensors tell the truck driver when the containers are full. Such a management solution also measures the amount of waste in trash bins with two to three centimeters precision. This helps the truck driver to avoid taking a trip to an empty dumpster, which can waste fuel and increase carbon emissions.
These nodes are capable of measuring the fullness of bins and sending the information to collection services. This technology can reduce the costs associated with trash collection by at least 30%, which is huge. So, even though it is a pilot program, it has already shown development potential.
Among the most common smart city, IoT applications in NA are buildings automation and monitoring. Without smart meters and machine learning features, it is fairly difficult to manage the whole building infrastructure. Utility companies, building managers, and tenants need to monitor water and energy consumption, air quality, and occupancy rates to better utilize the space.
Benefits Smart City Applications Can Bring
Smart building systems offer a wide range of benefits, including energy savings, a safer environment, and a better tenant experience. IoT technology can also provide insights and automation, enhancing the overall management of buildings.
Using sensors, a smart Building Management System (BMS) can monitor and manage the building’s assets. For example, IoT devices can be used to monitor elevators, soap dispensers in public washrooms, and backup energy generators. Utility companies can use smart architecture for better water management, data management, and energy savings.
IoT can also be used to conduct predictive maintenance on building assets, reducing maintenance visits and increasing asset uptime. Smart building systems can also be integrated with utility demand response programs as data collected shows the real picture of water and energy demand on a web portal. This can help reduce HVAC energy use when demand is high and optimizes heating.
Example from Toronto
Smart cities actively integrate technology for building monitoring. Smart building IoT systems are integrated with smart-grid programs for better management and optimized energy consumption. Toronto, in turn, has announced an initiative to integrate smart city technology into residential and commercial buildings in order to decrease air pollution and contribute to public safety (SmartCitiesWorld, 2022). The city considers the implementation of solar panels and using sensors to monitor CO2 levels, heating exposure, and the overall footprint of each building.
Smart buildings also offer several other benefits, including a safer environment, more energy efficiency, and less cost to operate. They also can integrate access management systems, cameras, image recognition, and radio frequency-enabled badges. So, the idea behind the initiative is to use IoT and smart tech to transform buildings and then the entire city.
Example from San Francisco
TEKTELIC has a successful example of water leak management within residential buildings. With TEKTELIC KONA Micro gateways has become possible to connect smart sensors detecting leakages to a web platform, which delivers real-time reports on pipes’ health and environmental conditions. KONA Micro IoT gateway is an ideal hub for indoor deployments. It works out of the box and has 4 hours of battery backup, so the gateway keeps working even when the main site is out of power.
In San Francisco KONA Micro, in partnership with other smart sensors, helped a 29-story building solve the leakage problem. Before the integration of LoRa technology, this building suffered $12 million in water damage, so smart monitoring was mostly the only solution for the issue. With the gateway and smart monitoring devices, the building management was able to build digital security protection from house leaks.
Opportunities to Consider
In order to optimize building usage, smart cities should consider all the options present in the market. For instance, TEKTELIC Communications has developed a full range of monitoring devices for smart buildings. Probably, the most popular device, which is able to cover all indoor monitoring needs is VIVID.
This sensor is easily integrated into any LoRaWAN ecosystem. It monitors temperature, humidity, light, detects motion, and can be used for pulse reading. With VIVID sensors, buildings can optimize the HVAC system, monitor room occupancy and the indoor environment in general. This sensor is a perfect choice for smart monitoring inside the building and has an extensive battery life of up to 10 years, which releases building owners from worries about battery change.
What are the Other Possible Use Cases to Implement?
There are many ways, cities can use smart sensors. However, not all of them are popular in the NA continent. For example, a great application for smart cities is water metering around the city. Sometimes, the leakage can occur somewhere around the city pipeline and goes unnoticed for a long time until it’s too late. If the leakage is noticed too late, it might result in huge expense sheets for a city. TEKTELIC already has a successful case with outdoor water metering in Varazdin, Croatia. Out there, we deployed KONA Macro IoT Gateways, which connect water meters to the network and allow officials to address the problems right away. Our KONA Macro Gateways have long-range coverage, RF cavity filters, and IP 67 certification, making them perfect for outdoor deployments. At the same time, they are extremely compact and lightweight, so can be easily attached to utility poles, building walls, or ceilings.
These gateways have solved the problem of water loss, energy overuse in distribution lines, and distribution organization issues.
Considering this quick overview of NA IoT applications in smart cities, we may conclude that the main focus is on simplifying people’s lives. Smart cities are trying to introduce connected cars, smart waste collection, smart traffic management to address peak hours road overload, and IoT sensors for building optimizations. These areas make total sense and solve real problems. At the same time, there is still a lot of space for development and the NA market has a huge potential for the implementation of technologies.
TEKTELIC, in turn, has a lot of ambition for IoT mass deployment and is ready to help develop this sphere. So, if you are looking for ways of optimizing your business or entire city in the NA region and beyond, do not hesitate to contact our sales team.
- E-ZPass. (2022). E-ZPass® is an electronic toll collection (ETC) system. E-ZPass. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://www.e-zpassny.com/en/about/about.shtml#:~:text=E-ZPass%C2%AE%20is%20an%20electronic%20toll%20collection%20%28ETC%29%20system,toll%3B%20and%20video%20cameras%20to%20identify%20toll%20evaders.
- Shah, J., Kothari, J., & Doshi, N. (2019). A survey of Smart City Infrastructure via case study on New York. Procedia Computer Science, 160, 702–705. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2019.11.024
- SmartCitiesWorld . (2022). Toronto invites entries to decarbonise buildings challenge. Smart Cities World. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from https://www.smartcitiesworld.net/commercial-buildings/toronto-invites-entries-to-decarbonise-buildings-challenge-8066