Connecting Cities to a Smart Future

November 23, 2017

Start-ups at Expo highlight how Mobile IoT can make cities effective and efficient

Smart manhole covers, remote controlled streetlights, sophisticated damage detection systems, smart parking solutions and much more: the Mobile Internet of Things (Mobile IoT) can improve many aspects of urban life. Exhibitors at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona demonstrated how an expanding array of smart city solutions are employing the cost-effective low power wide area (LPWA) connectivity delivered by Mobile IoT technologies to enhance city living.

A clutch of innovative start-ups displayed Mobile IoT solutions at the GSMA Mobile IoT Innovators Showcase at the Expo, which took place in mid-November. Part of 4YFN, the start-up business platform of Mobile World Capital Barcelona, the Showcase highlighted how both industry standard Mobile IoT technologies, NB-IoT and LTE-M, can be used to provide low cost remote control and monitoring of city assets and infrastructure.

BS2 of Germany, for example, demonstrated sensors that use NB-IoT to relay data on the condition of buildings and infrastructure to the asset manager. “Customers can recognize damages inside their buildings before they can be recognized on the outside,” says BS2 CEO Benedikt Seuss. “We make every type of concrete building, such as bridges, tunnels, parking decks and energy facilities, smarter, safer and more sustainable.”

BS2 has found NB-IoT makes infrastructure monitoring solutions cost-effective. “NB-IoT is a big enabling technology for us,” says Benedikt Seuss. “It helps us to roll out our sensors much easier, reduces the running costs, increases the power lifetime and, with deeper penetration into buildings, it helps us to have coverage where we need it.”

Above and below ground
Indeed, the broad coverage offered by Mobile IoT technologies means they are ideal for monitoring assets at ground level or even underground. At the Expo, Revolution11 of San Francisco demonstrated a smart manhole solution, which employs a set of LTE-M connected sensors that can send alerts if a manhole is about to flood or if there is a fire. The system can also notify the owner when their manhole is accessed. Jim Marshall of Revolution11 says: “LTE-M lets us build in the price of connectivity … into the device itself, so infrastructure owners don’t have to worry about separate data charges or getting the device working on the network.”

A similar concept can be used to monitor the occupancy of parking spaces. In Barcelona, local specialist Urbiotica demonstrated how NB-IoT can enable municipalities to monitor bays reserved for disabled drivers and vehicles loading or unloading, as well as helping all drivers find somewhere to park. Camille Loth, Product and Sales Manager, Mobility at Urbiotica, says: “Where the parking spots are dispersed in the city with little density, the communication of the sensors through the mobile operators’ network with NB-IoT protocol will reduce cost, greatly simplify the roll out and offer a plug and play solution for the customers.”

Keeping the lights on or off
Energy conservation is another major driver behind the development of smart cities. Romania-based Flashnet showcased an interactive demo of a NB-IoT connected streetlight at the Smart City Expo. The connectivity can be used both to remotely control streetlights, dimming them when there is little or no traffic, and to monitor the performance of the lamps and the electricity grid, to help plan maintenance work. Widely-deployed, connected streetlights could significantly cut municipalities’ energy bills and maintenance costs. Orsolya Szallos-Kis, Sales Engineer at Flashnet, says NB-IoT provides the secure and efficient connectivity that smart street lighting needs. “By using a public infrastructure, like NB-IoT or LTE-M, …the connectivity of all the sensors around the city will have secure communication, and also the existing infrastructure can be used more efficiently, without the need to deploy additional base stations or cells,” she explains. “Making the most of a single infrastructure is the key to having efficient and sustainable solutions, and Mobile IoT connectivity offers exactly that” Both NB-IoT and LTE-M can be overlaid on existing cellular networks employing licensed spectrum.

Commercialisation under way
Although Mobile IoT technologies are still relatively new, the start-ups participating in the GSMA Mobile IoT Innovators Showcase are close to commercialising their solutions. Together with Deutsche Telekom, Flashnet has deployed its street lighting solution and some other NB-IoT-based applications in Patras in Greece, and for a pilot in Bonn, Germany. “For now we see the most interest in NB-IoT to come from Europe, and most probably the European NB-IoT based projects will be pioneers around the world, but we expect that with time interest will grow in the Middle East and in Asia as well,” says Orsolya Szallos-Kis.

BS2, which is part of Deutsche Telekom’s hub:raum accelerator programme, is planning to begin a pilot of its connected infrastructure sensors before the end of 2017. “Once we have completed our pilot, we will look to roll out NB-IoT to all of our other solutions, like gauge metering, crack monitoring and roof monitoring,” adds Benedikt Seuss.

Meanwhile, Revolution11 is talking to device manufacturers about taking its smart manhole prototype into a pilot project. “We hope to have a pilot project up and running in the first part of next year,” says Jim Marshall. “We plan to use other sensors, such as GPS and CO2 sensors, via software upgrades over time. These will enable us to make sure a manhole is safe to enter and will give vendors more precise locations of the infrastructure in the manhole as they work.”

Urbiotica, which has already deployed more than 15,000 connected sensors in dozens of cities and private areas worldwide, plans to use Mobile IoT technologies to reach new regions where unlicensed spectrum bands are not available. “We see a great potential here to extend our business worldwide and keep on working on new use cases at the best price for the benefits of our customers,” says Camille Loth. “The real-time information published to the users have allowed our customers to offer concrete answers to issues arising from the exponential increase of population in urban areas: reduce traffic, air pollution and save time for drivers, solve urban conflicts caused by noise pollution, and modernise traditional services through digitalisation.”

As LTE-M and NB-IoT coverage continues to expand and more modules and development kits become available, a growing band of entrepreneurs are likely to see the same potential to use Mobile IoT to address the many challenges facing the world’s increasingly congested and crowded cities. As a result, Mobile IoT is set to become an integral and vital part of urban infrastructure.

Back

Mobile IoT Case Study: How Asia Pacific Intelligently Connects to IoT This report shows how LTE-M and NB-IoT are being deployed in the Asia Pacific region. Drawing on interviews with mobile operators and their partners, the report describes six ver...

Read more | See all Resources

The IoT Guide to MWC19 The comprehensive guide to the Internet of Things at MWC19 Barcelona...

Read more | See all Resources

Mobile IoT Journey Through MWC Barcelona 2019 This self-guided Mobile IoT Journey through MWC19 Barcelona gives attendees the opportunity to explore innovative demonstrations and to see key information at a glance. Discover ...

Read more | See all Resources

On-Demand Webinar: SIM-ply Secure – Leveraging the SIM to Create a Truste The SIM is the only common component across all types of cellular IoT devices, providing a trusted and standardised foundation for the Internet of Things. Being hardware security...

Read more | See all Resources

Infographic: a Look into the Future of Mobile-Enabled Drones The drones market is an area of the IoT forecast for huge growth. This infographic acts as a useful guide to the most essential facts and figures on this burgeoning vertical mark...

Read more | See all Resources

Mobile IoT Toolkit The Mobile IoT Toolkit is designed for mobile network operators and IoT developers to quickly get started with IoT solutions development and deployment. For further information o...

Read more | See all Resources

Mobile IoT Case Study: How Asia Pacific Intelligently Connects to IoT This report shows how LTE-M and NB-IoT are being deployed in the Asia Pacific region. Drawing on interviews with mobile operators and their partners, the report describes six ver...

Read more | See all Industry News

Mobile IoT Toolkit The Mobile IoT Toolkit is designed for mobile network operators and IoT developers to quickly get started with IoT solutions development and deployment. For further information o...

Read more | See all Industry News

IoT Takes Centre Stage as Mobile World Congress Rolls into View Mobile World Congress is approaching again – running from 25 February to 28 February in Barcelona – and IoT is naturally remaining centre stage. The 8th Mobile IoT Summit is ...

Read more | See all Industry News

Top 5 IoT Innovations at CES 2019 that Caught our Eye As operators expand their commercial horizons ever more broadly with the rise of IoT – becoming not only the providers of connectivity, but connected services themselves – th...

Read more | See all Industry News

5G and Mobile IoT Prove Natural Partners for the Year Ahead Svetlana Grant, IoT Programme Director, GSMA There are times when some in the industry quietly wish 5G had been given another name.  The capability leap is simply not comparable...

Read more | See all Industry News

LTE-M Commercialisation Case Study: How AT&T and Telstra Connect Milli This paper outlines how two of the world’s leading mobile operators – AT&T and Telstra – are using LTE-M technology to roll out innovative new services. In...

Read more | See all Industry News

8th Mobile IoT Summit February 24, 2019     *please note that online registration will close at 9am GMT on Friday, 22 February 2019 Join the 8th Mobile IoT Summit to hear the latest industry updates...

Read more | See all Connected Living Events

MWC Barcelona 2019 February 24, 2019 Join the GSMA’s Internet of Things programme at MWC Barcelona 2019 to discover and shape the future of the IoT. Through a series of seminars, exhibitions and tech...

Read more | See all Connected Living Events

MWC19 Barcelona Seminar: The Internet of the Skies – Conne February 26, 2019 Tuesday, 26 February 2019, 11:00 – 12:30 Seminar Theatre 1, Hall 1, South Entrance (Level 1), Fira Gran Via – Download Directions – This GSMA seminar explores rea...

Read more | See all Connected Living Events

MWC19 Barcelona Seminar: Future Proofing the Internet of Thi February 26, 2019 Seminar Theatre 1, CC1.5, Hall 1, South Entrance (Level 1), Fira Gran Via – Download Directions – Without security, today’s vision for the Internet of Thi...

Read more | See all Connected Living Events

MWC19 Barcelona Seminar: Operator Capability – Unlocki February 26, 2019 Seminar Theatre 1, CC1.5, Hall 1, South Entrance (Level 1), Fira Gran Via – Download Directions – Learn about pioneering IoT industry achievements in China....

Read more | See all Connected Living Events

MWC19 Barcelona Seminar: Beyond Connectivity – Operato February 27, 2019 Wednesday, 27 February 2019,  13:30 – 15:30  Seminar Theatre 1, Hall 1, South Entrance (Level 1), Fira Gran Via – Download Directions – This GSMA seminar explor...

Read more | See all Connected Living Events