Smart cities are popping up everwhere, but are they truly “connected”? Source: Shutterstock

How do smart sensors transform smart cities?

WHEN you think of smart cities, you think of an ecosystem that’s completely interconnected, seamlessly.

Right out of a science fiction novel, you imagine being tracked in real-time, kept secure, and hope to be supported by businesses that better understand your needs – and deliver solutions using the city’s infrastructure.

However, to make that a reality, cities need a smart sensor platform network.

It is what provides the connection from a sensor or field device to a centralized IoT or data collection platform. Through it, the city’s infrastructure collects data and uses it for decision-making purposes.

For example, sensors or field devices such as temperature sensors, sound pressure sensors, smart meters, street light controllers and flood sensors.

Various connectivity solutions such as LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, 3G/4G, Wireless Meshed or even WiFi can be used – but each has its own limitations.

ST Engineering Electronics’s General Manager of Info-Comms Systems, Yao Shih Jih believes that cities that want to truly build a seamlessly interconnected network must establish an anchor application and build a centralized network and platform.

Speaking exclusively to Tech Wire Asia ahead of his session at the ConnecTechAsia summit in Singapore, expanded on the idea saying that other sensors and devices can share and benefit from the centralized network and platform, allowing the ecosystem to reduce over duplicate capital costs and investments in setting up of individual networks.

“In view of the large geographically reach and coverage of urban cities, smart street light control will be a possible anchor application,” said Yao.

“The network and platform established for smart street light control, for example, will not only serve the primary application, but also other sensors and applications, forming a “smart sensor platform network” for other systems across domains such as environment, traffic, public safety, metering, and waste,” Yao explained.

Having different applications connected to a shared smart sensor platform network provides the opportunity for data collection and analytics across different domains.

This also provides new insights that a single domain vertical cannot offer. For example, it helps gauge how rain can affect traffic flow and street light control.

These new insights derived from the analytics of data across different domains will benefit urban-planning. In addition, a shared platform will also deliver savings in the long-term cost of ownership.

The fact is, smart cities are aiming for a single platform, however, they’re faced with several challenges.

Having different vertical domains establishing their own networks is not cost-effective and does not allow new insights to be gained from a centralized network across different domains.

Cities of the future will be truly smart when they’re build on a unified platform – that can support smart lighting and every other device. It’s what will make the city energy-efficient too.