Smart city projects are a key feature of the Internet of Things. Planners can get a better idea of the situation in real-time by spreading thousands of sensors over a town or city. Security cameras and environmental sensors already provided cities large amounts of data, and cities already contained big infrastructure networks, such as controlling traffic lights. The objective of IoT projects is to connect these things up, and then add more intelligence into the system.
One example is the plan for Spain’s Balearic Islands, wherein thousands of sensors will be deployed to turn the area into a lab for IoT projects. One scheme could involve utilizing sensors to help the elderly while another could help identify if a beach is too crowded and offer alternatives to beachgoers. In another instance, AT&T is launching a monitoring service for infrastructures such as railways, roadways, and bridges using LTE-enabled sensors to detect structural changes like cracks and tilts.
Understanding better the way a city is functioning should allow planners to make necessary changes and monitor how this improves people’s lives. Leading tech companies see the significant potential of smart city projects, and many, including networking companies and mobile operators, are starting to get involved.
Vital Roles of 5G in the Internet of Things
IoT devices can connect and share data in a variety of ways, but most of them use wireless connectivity. Standard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, Zigbee, or even Ethernet in homes and offices. Other devices use LTE or even satellite connections to communicate. The variety of options has led to suggestions by some experts that IoT communication standards need to be as interoperable and accepted as Wi-Fi is today.
The utilization of 5G networks to support IoT projects will undoubtedly an area of growth in the next few years. The ability of 5G to fit as many as a million 5G devices in a square kilometer will make it possible to use an immense number of sensors in a tiny area. It will make large-scale industrial IoT deployments more possible. The trials of 5G and the IoT have been started in the US and UK, but it could take time before 5G deployments become widespread.
According to Ericsson, there will be around five billion IoT devices connected to cellular networks five years from now. Still, only 25% of those will be broadband IoT with 4G connecting the majority of those. Gartner, a tech analyst company, predicts outdoor surveillance cameras to be the largest market for 5G IoT devices in the short term. Surveillance cameras accounted for around 70% of the 5G IoT devices this year. However, Gartner expects the number to drop to approximately 30% by the end of 2023, as connected cars will overtake.
Gartner also predicts 3.5 million 5G IoT devices in use this year, and it will go as high as 50 million by 2023. It also expects the automotive industry to become the largest sector for 5G IoT use cases in the longer term.
Experts see the likelihood of fewer data to be sent for processing in the cloud as the IoT develops. More processing could be done on-device with only the critical data sent back to the cloud to keep costs down. The strategy is known as edge computing, which will require new technology that includes tamper-proof edge servers to collect and analyze data far from the corporate data center or cloud.
As connected devices continue to rise in number, our working and living environments will become filled with smart products. As we welcome the new era of smart things, there will be times when we pine for the days when a chair was just a chair.