Disruption: How the Internet of Things Will Change Urban Infrastructure
The Internet of Things is poised to disrupt multiple industries in the future as the centralized computing paradigm gives way to distributed, data-rich systems. In this series of
weekly posts, we will explore how the Internet of Things will change a specific sector, why it’s needed, the trends and drivers, and the outlook going forward. This week, we will begin exploring a special topic: smart cities.
There are many key subjects that we could speak about from infrastructure to city planning and management to support systems. The fact is that the number of urban residents is
growing by nearly 60 million people each year across the world. By 2050, more than 60% of the world’s population will be living in cities and will consume about 75% of its resources. Water, food, power, and healthcare must be consistently available to everyone and are linked by complex inter-dependencies. Therefore, the greatest challenge for urban infrastructure is to ensure that the fundamental needs of city-dwellers are met consistently.
Smart Water Management
Water is a precious limited resource critical to the survival of humans on our planet and its use is increasing at more than twice the rate of population growth. Demand for water will
continue to grow as more and more of our global population modernizes. However, systems will fail to support this growth as nearly 50% of the world’s water disappears from aging and leaky pipes costing $14 billion every year. These losses are enormous for industry and agriculture which account for 90% of consumption. Sensors placed throughout the infrastructure and natural waterways can feed data into analytics-driven applications to enable real-time tracking and reporting. Potential problems and waste can be predicted and averted leading to enormous water and cost savings.
The life force of the economy is the transportation of people and goods. It is the greatest driver of globalization that enables the emergence of new economies and improving the quality of life of millions of people. However, inefficiencies in our transportation network cost billions in wasted fuel, hours, and money. In 2007, road traffic in the U.S. alone cost $87.2 billion dollars and wasted 2.8 billion gallons of fuel. The Internet of Things can change that and improve the efficiency of our transportation system. Using sensors, meters, appliances, etc., we can measure, sense, and see the exact condition of everything and predict demand for better plan routes and schedules. This leads to operational efficiency while reducing the environmental impact and improving safety and security.
Power consumption has been a well-researched topic of infrastructure. Many utility companies have been deploying smart meters and smart grids with multiple sensors and
communication networks over the last decade. Smart and energy efficient appliances and devices are also very popular today and are already helping to reduce demand for energy. The data that is collected be these devices are already starting to help change the way we consume energy and will soon help utilities better understand demand in real-time and effectively optimize performance, prevent outages, and allow consumers to manage their energy usage through automation.
It is clear that cities and infrastructure will have been greatly impacted by the Internet of Things. From reducing waste and improving efficiency to improving safety, security, and reliability of our networks and infrastructure, the Internet of Things is changing the way we live on this planet. Soon, these smart networks of people, sensors, and applications will interconnect even further and deepen our insight to how we can make best utilize the limited resources we have to greatly push humanity forward. Next week, we will discuss how the Internet of Things will impact city planning and maintenance, another key subject of smart cities.
Imran Charania is a technology entrepreneur and an Internet of Things product development consultant. He was previously the Founder, CEO, and Chief Architect at Cirkyt Technologies, Inc. where he developed technology to create hybrid mechanical smartwatches. He is also a graduate of Texas Tech University with a degree in Computer Engineering. Imran is a fan of the Philadelphia 76ers as well as his hometown Dallas Cowboys.
Imran can be reached for comments or questions on Twitter @imran_charania.