Everyone is talking about the Internet of Things, and how they can turn objects on and off by using their smart device as a controller. But there is one way that the Internet of Things is the most fascinating for me, and that is to leverage data to empower citizens by creating sustainable communities.

Being raised by a police officer in Brazil, I was trained to know safety. Being aware of my surroundings was how I lived each and every day. When I moved to the United States one thing I noticed as I walked down the streets in California, was that some houses would light up the driveway as I walked by in front of the house. I always loved that because it gave me a great feeling of safety.

As we enter the era of all things connected, there is no better application for IoT than the one that enables people to become better citizens. We know that even though we love to switch the coffee maker with the use of a button on our connected devices, there is nothing we care more than the safety of our loved ones.

By creating smarter cities, we will not only enable citizens to have an awareness of their surroundings, cities can also save a lot of money. Remember how your parents always asked you to turn off the light once you were done using the room? They did this because they knew the potential savings on electricity by using when there was an actual need for it. Imagine every time you walk into a street the streetlight would be aware of your presence and lit the streets as you walk by, and then turn it off if nobody is around?

Street lighting is one of the single largest energy expenses for a city; Intelligent lighting can cut a municipality street lighting cost by 70%. Smart street lighting is now just one of the simple ways to use IoT that can bring benefits for the common good. Mayflower in partnership with TTP are changing how street lighting can use the IoT in the UK and Ireland for energy management.
Source:  IoT Mayflower

“For this to happen, however, city leadership must understand how the components of IoT — people, process, data, and things — play specific roles, and work together, to enable our future cities and communities “.

One example we can cite on how bringing these different components together works is the awareness of traffic, by creating traffic management cities can diminish congestion and potentially save lives. This approach is something that will involve creating data from different sources.

One of the things that can tremendously help with this IoT revolution for cities is the capacity of being connected.

Being able to be constantly connected as things happen makes the data being produced much more reliable. New York City officials are planning to turn 7,300 public pay phones into one of the largest free Wi-Fi networks in the country.

A city that is connected will enable its citizens to gather and acquire important information. People can use social apps to report traffic as they already do with apps such as Waze, where drivers are encouraged to safely report issues.

Now, when we talk about “things”, we are speaking of sensors, devices, appliances, and even transportation. Volkswagen has just recently debuted an app for the Apple watch, which allows you to lock and unlock your car. It lets you know where you parked, how much gas you have left among other things. It’s the beginning of the connected car.

None of the information being produced would be that important if you could not have access to it. The ability to gather intelligence and send it back to you, on your personal phone, or a watch on your wrist as you move around the city enables you to make better choices. Citizens that make better choices create better communities. Cities can also make better choices with the data accrued, especially in times of an emergency. An IOT company, SigFox, worked with the county government in Montgomery County, Maryland to install IOT sensors next to batteries for smoke detectors to improve safety in public housing, these measures can generate data that save lives.

The knowledge that your kids will be walking around well-lit streets, with semaphores, that change as he or she approaches the traffic light so that they can safely cross, with smoke detectors that work timely and call first rescue reponses.

If these resources can be used wisely and securely, people will enjoy better their cups of coffee in the morning made with a smart Wi-Fi coffee maker by pressing a button on their watches. As they head to their daily commute knowing what the traffic is like and with suggested routes, life goes on beautifully.

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