For those of us that live in city centers, we regularly benefit from our connected urban environment through initiatives that are making our cities “smarter”. From the Azure IoT & Maps perspective, we look at this same benefit from the other direction. What does it mean for one location in a city to be made smarter and what are the benefits we get without maybe realizing it? To illustrate this, let us look at the typical upgrade path from a traditional streetlamp to a Smart streetlamp.
What are the things a streetlight can do that are autonomous?
The simplest examples of this would be using a more efficient bulb and adding an ambient light sensor so that energy is not spent lighting a bulb, even an efficient LED bulb, if it is not needed. Other environmental sensors such as temperature and humidity could allow the lamp to decide not to operate if it is too hot or too moist. However smart it may seem to be, this autonomous light would still require someone to report any failures and for it to be checked on a regular basis.
What are the benefits we can realize quickly if that streetlight, with these simple sensors, is now connected?
If the bulb fails or light chooses not to function correctly, for a reason such as it is too hot or too humid, an alert can be sent to have the light serviced. If the smart streetlight loses connectivity, it can still operate autonomously but an alert can be generated at the reporting center that this smart device has stopped communicating and should be checked. A connected device can decide how often it wants to report but it can also be asked for status as needed. This bi-directional communication completely removes the need to check a device unless there is a reported reason to do so saving time, resources, and money!
What are extra benefits we can realize if that streetlight has sensors added that go beyond the function of the streetlight itself?
Some cities have chosen to add microphones and listen for abnormal sounds such as a gunshot. Based on the decibels of the sound at various smart streetlamp locations, police and ambulance resources can be sent close to where the sound originated. In higher traffic regions, a camera may also be added for extra security and information gathering.
In all cases, it is important to know where the lamp is located and that is where Azure Maps pulls it all together.