I’m sure, like me, you've been annoyed at being stuck in a traffic jam in a city centre somewhere, or been frustrated at your kids leaving lights on, or annoyed with the heating coming on when the weather’s warmed up and you've not got round to adjusting the thermostat.
Now, imagine a world where all those little annoyances are taken care of. Your car redirects you automatically so you’re no longer inching forward wondering when you’re going to get to your meeting. Lights are turned off whenever people have left the room. The thermostat automatically adjusts in line with temperature changes outside. Aside from less irritation, imagine the energy savings.
We’re constantly being reminded that we have finite energy resources and at risk of being plunged into darkness, so we need to make whatever savings we can.
Once you start to scale these small energy savings up so they apply to an entire city rather than a single home, it’s easy to see the potential value. All this is possible in the new world of digital cities, a subset of the Internet of Things, where sensors control vehicles and traffic flow, thermostats and streetlights. In fact, just about anything that consumes energy can be controlled to more precisely meet demand. The smart city economy is predicted to be worth $1.5 trillion by 2020 according to analysts Frost & Sullivan.
So there’s a huge opportunity for technology suppliers to provide all the sensors, networks, apps, dashboards and so on required – all of which will provided masses of data for analysis. This is worth bearing in mind, as we often think only in terms of how big data analytics can improve a business, rather than how it can improve an entire infrastructure on a truly massive scale.
This is a further example of analytics serving the greater good. As well as helping prioritise resources in disaster relief efforts, or pooling together clinical trial data to speed up breakthrough treatments for cancer, analytics can help our cities function more efficiently and conserve dwindling energy reserves.
I’m sure this is something we all agree needs to happen, and issues around data security and threats from hackers disrupting the city network are simply challenges that will have to be addressed. The benefits are too great to be ignored!
Learn more about the Internet of Things and other opportunities it presents.