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How IIoT can help solve smart city challenges

How IIoT can help solve smart city challenges
The industrial internet of things (IIoT), and smart panels that facilitate power generation have a major role to play in the development of smart cities.
The industrial internet of things (IIoT), and smart panels that facilitate power generation have a major role to play in the development of smart cities, and could be especially effective in developing countries where traditional infrastructure is often lacking.

One mooted IIoT application is in power distribution. Atin Chhabra, General Manager & Head - Digital Customer Experience (DCX) for Schneider Electric, India Region, said in a recent blog post that “One of the most significant smart city challenges that must be addressed is the prevalent and commonplace issue of power distribution.

“One need only look at the current situation in India to understand this challenge — blackouts and outages have become increasingly prevalent in the country, to the point where the general populace has become used to these issues. It’s evident that this is not an ideal case in the slightest, which makes it imperative to see to it that these two forms of technology are implemented sooner than later.”

IIoT and edge computing

But power generation is not the only role that IIoT can play in smart cities. Together with edge computing, IIoT technology can help in situations where data improves municipal service provision.

Scott Robinson, CIO of the GlenMill Group, a research consortium providing new AI technology and infrastructure for enterprise applications and services, said recently that it was “becoming commonplace for smart city engineers to install internet-enabled sensors in trash receptacles throughout metropolitan areas.” He added the receptacles “can then be monitored remotely through sensors; when full, a city sanitation department receives a notification and an order can be logged for a receptacle to be emptied.”

Increasing security

Edge-based solutions are also useful in limiting the impact of security breaches, in a sector where old infrastructure often fails to catch up with the new software developments. When a hacker tries to access a system that deploys edge-based computing solutions, it can limit access to the device alone, thereby keeping backend networks responsible for processing the data safe.

More speed and faster decisions

What edge computing can do to make a bigger difference is to bring artificial intelligence (AI) to the devices. This would make decision-making more context driven and quick, right where the results are needed. In short, this means a move from cloud-based processing to device-level processing, which is a major step forward in information-driven decision-making.

“Emergency medical technicians, for example, must rapidly determine the vital signs of a person in distress and gather information from those in the area,” Robinson suggested.

“If a factory worker collapses on the job while wearing a smartwatch that monitors its wearer's physical condition, EMTs have immediate access to vital signs at the moment and prior to the collapse. They would also see information about the environment at the time of the incident: temperature, noise level, the presence of fumes, and any other data that might provide context for rapid and effective treatment.”

The role of Big Data

Robinson added that raw data that was locally processed at device level could always be sent to the cloud. 

“Big data analytics is one of the major trends that’s riding the wave of digital transformation, and it must be said that smart panels and the industrial internet of things will help in the collection of data imperative to the running of buildings or sectors,” Chhabra explained. “So, by implementing this technology, one will be able to analyze the data and understand the best course of action that can be taken to optimize any inefficiencies that might be plaguing these cities and impeding them in their goal of tackling the challenges faced in forming a smart city.”
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