Accelerating Urban Mobility through IoT

In this article, we will dive deep into one of the many pieces necessary to build a Smart City: transportation. And, more specifically, into the role of IoT in transportation.

IoT in the Smart City: How It Is Being Used

There are hundreds of ways in which the internet of things can improve life in a city. For instance, one of the first things to be monitored via IoT sensors is the capacity of bins. Smart bins would notify an operator when they were full, not only improving the overall efficiency but increasing the quality of the service. 

Cities are also investing in shared riding capabilities. In fact, private companies offering bike or e-scooters rentals are the first step to a new transport ecosystem. For a fixed daily price, passengers will be able to use not only the traditional transportation means such as bus, tram, or metro but also the new, innovative urban mobility solutions.

IoT can also play a key role in the reliability of a city’s infrastructure. For example, a few years ago, a pedestrian footbridge collapsed in Prague. Now, with the help of IoT, we would be able to monitor the stability of that same bridge. Remote sensors could control the inclination of its columns preventing a disaster.

Cities can also use simple sensors to monitor temperature and air humidity to evaluate, for instance, the impact of planting trees.

Detection of the number of bikers and pedestrians passing by allows better planning of the path walks and bike routes. 

Street cameras equipped with AI can detect traffic accidents and automatically call an ambulance, gaining potentially life-saving time.

The measurement of the street temperature allows the deployment of water sprinkling systems at the right time.

And what about a situation that we’ve all been in: you’re waiting to cross the street, there aren’t any cars in sight but the light is still red. Smart IoT traffic control systems regulate traffic lights to speed up the flow of cars.

Managing maintenance and procurement activities

One of the key challenges of implementing IoT technology is its maintenance. On the one hand, accessing this equipment is not always easy. On the other hand, receiving replacements can take some time.  All of this complicates maintenance.

Since city infrastructure is getting more and more complex every year, it is important to adopt smart solutions that facilitate its maintenance: it’s paramount to be able to easily access the machines’ maintenance logs, as well as receive alerts, and real-time failure warnings.

Case Study

Neuron Soundware was commissioned to improve the Prague Underground system and make it more reliable. The Prague Underground transports up to one million passengers every day, and the tunnels are tens of meters deep, resulting in escalators being an essential part of the underground area. They are also quite long and very expensive to replace and maintain. A small stone in someone’s shoe sole can cause significant damage, for example, misaligning and blocking the steps if it’s not removed fast enough.

The goal of the collaboration was to:
  • Reduce the energy consumption by 10% and the cost of parts by 20%.
  • Extend the lifespan by 3 to 5 years, on average. Reduce the total cost of ownership by up to 20%.

Neuron Soundware equipped 21 escalators selected as the most critical ones with 189 sensors. Each key component of an escalator is monitored by 12 sensors. AI algorithms were trained to recognize any anomalies, and data of the specific issues are collected to feed the algorithm. As a result, the operating costs were reduced and the lifespan of the escalators was considerably prolonged. The typical use time is of around 15 to 20 years before general maintenance or replacement is needed. 

“We want to embrace digitalization in monitoring our equipment, which is why we chose a solution where sensors collect acoustic data and process it using AI. This allows us to monitor the equipment remotely and send a specialist out if our Neuron Soundware equipment warns us of a change in the condition of the escalator parts,” commented Ing. Petr Vondráček, Head of Transportation System Service, Traffic Route Metro.

This article was written by Pavel Konečný, Founder of Neuron Soundware as a part of Plug and Play Smart Cities ebook