Oracle has been one of the leading providers of framework and technology to make our cities smarter. This picture shows some of the thinking around this. It is interesting to note that Internet of Things has the potential to make our cities "smarter" as is evident from projects our partners are engaged in. If I look at major constituents described in this picture and pick where "connected devices" or "embedded sensors" are creating most value, I will pick Healthcare, Public Safety, Transportation, and Utilities. The value add is both in modernizing the city infrastructure and streamlining city operations. Let us look at the possibilities based on some successful implementations.
1) Healthcare - Many patients who require constant health monitoring prefer the comfort of at-home health care monitoring to costly and inconvenient hospital care. This has huge potential to take out cost from our healthcare systems. The main difficulty with home health care is enabling patients to provide accurate and timely data to health care professionals. This is being changed through Java based Gateways like Digi/Freescale Home Health Hub (HHH) platform. The value Java Embedded adds here is to provide a platform to seamlessly connect with ever increasing healthcare devices like blood pressure devices, pulse oximeters etc. and APIs to create a display interface to monitor connected devices and see results from the gateway itself.
2) Public Safety - The successful use of surveillance cameras in the recent past to identify suspects after an incident bolsters the case of using these at many locations. Low priced sensors can be put at more locations. However the challenge remains to sift through overwhelming amount of data and identify “events” of interest. This becomes more difficult if this has to happen real time to prevent incidents rather than analyze afterwards. One successful use of Real Time Event processing which has been implemented is in Emergency Response systems. During national disasters or emergencies, EADS products play key roles from the opening moments through every stage of the response. EADS used Oracle Event Processing along with other technologies in their Emergency Response System to prevent resources from entering an exclusion zone to limit damage.
3) Transportation – Logistics companies like UPS have long realized the benefits of Telematics to optimally plan the route of their vehicles. They are now also using sensor data from vehicles to perform maintenance on each vehicle only when required, as opposed to on a set schedule. It is about time that our cash strapped Public Transportation departments start realizing some of the same benefits to make real time changes to schedules based on actual demand. This has started happening in many counties. Italian Public Transportation company COTRAL implemented a monitoring system to plan and make changes to routes of their buses based on real time information being gathered using a Telematic control Unit on the Buses. Oracle products were used to do spatial analysis and visualization of data coming in from the buses in context with other route planning data.
Another area where Transportation is impacted is Traffic Management. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has an ambitious project to manage demand and supply of parking spots in city of San Francisco towards the goal of reducing unnecessary traffic to find parking spots. One important way to achieve this was to use parking sensor data to provide availability information to drivers on mobile application. The sensor data is also used for determining pricing based on real time demand.
4) Utilities – IoT can impact Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Water, Waste management) in two main areas - (i) Smart Metering that enables utilities to remotely collect customers meter data at frequent intervals (~15 mins) has the potential to become smarter. (ii) SCADA (Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition) Systems can increasingly automate regular use and repair of utilities operations network. Let’s examine this in more detail in a future post.