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7 simple steps to building a Smart City

By now, most people will have some idea of what IoT stands for and its growing importance to society.  However, knowing how to implement a digital transformation strategy and kick start your IoT journey can be daunting, so we’ve put together 7 steps to help.

Smart City

Many IoT devices deployed in cities are on a Low Powered Wide Area Network (LPWAN). LPWANs are great for IoT as they can cheaply transmit small amounts of data over long distances using little power. Batteries in some of the sensors can last up to 10, therefore reducing the energy impact and improving the Return on Investment.

Although not everyone is aware, IoT has been around for years. It hit mainstream in 2014 with wearable devices such as fitness trackers like Fitbit and smartwatches like the Apple smartwatch. Nowadays smart devices are the norm in many households with products like Smart Home Hubs, Amazon Alexa and Google Home echo and Smart meters and thermostats widely used.

Smart City Sensors which councils are now commonly looking at include:

  • Bin Sensors
  • Air Quality Sensors
  • Street lighting Sensors
  • Parking lot sensors
  • Flood sensors
  • Road temperature Sensors 

To find out more about specific sensors and their capabilities read our recent blog: Pinacl unleash the ultimate ‘open-access’ IoT Launch Pack for Councils.

IoT strategies can be easily implemented by councils with the right support in place. We’ve put together 7 steps to help you get started.

  1. Look for the issues which need solving in your town/city and focus on them. Does your city suffer from poor air quality? Does your town have a high flood risk? Are the roads not gritted as efficiently as they could be? Where could IoT be used to make the biggest impact? Think of the most problematic areas and then research IoT solutions which could help.
  2. Consider the communities perception of the sensors/solutions. Some solutions, although helpful can make people feel like they are being monitored. Social Housing Solutions which can cut maintenance costs by reporting on housing health can sometimes include motion sensors which residents may not feel comfortable with. Other solutions may be wholly welcome, such as those that prevent floods and improve gritting efficiencies.
  3. Understand what data can be collected from the sensors. Work out what data can be gathered from the sensors and what insights they might give. Think about how the data can be presented in a way which is useful for all stakeholders. Will you use a single smart dashboard which collates the data from multiple sensors across the city? Or will you use individual dashboards for separate solutions? Who will have access to them and what actions will they take from the data?
  4. Make a connectivity plan and ask an expert to help in order to get the most efficient solution for you. You should address the limitations with LPWAN and find the best way forward.
  5. Choose a network provider. Competition is growing, there was a limited number of providers with other companies scared to enter the market in case they back the wrong network.  Now more companies are entering the market. Common LPWAN networks used include LoRa.
  6. Start small and soon. Start experimenting now using pilots and prototypes on a small section of the city, if it works scale up, if it doesn’t then less money has been lost. Everything takes time to refine and get right but by starting your journey sooner you can work on perfecting the solutions so that you can be reaping the benefits when others are still contemplating when to start.
  7. Work with an expert to put in place a strategic IoT plan.  There is potential for security related disasters as the technology is still fairly new. For example, if street lighting sensors were hacked, cities could be forced into darkness. Use registered devices as they will have had to pass security standards to be authorised by LPWAN providers.

Pinacl is a market leader in Digital Transformation and is currently working with a number of Councils and Housing Associations who are keen to trial and adopt this new technology, recognising the potential for a rapid Return on Investment from Pinacl’s IoT solutions.

If you would like more information or would like to discuss a tailored IoT solution to suit your requirements, then contact us today on 01745 535300 or email enquiries@pinaclsolutions.com

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