A Smart City, like any organization, depends on three basic processes:
The technology to accomplish this has multiple layers:
Figure 2: A Smart City network has multiple layers, each with a different function and response time. (Source: ASE International Conference on Big Data)
End nodes gather information from a multitude of sensors, cameras, and other devices located on buildings, lights, parking spaces, sewer pipes, electricity meters, dumpsters, and many other locations. For sending information upstream, wireless communication holds the most promise for the future. Depending on the specific requirements, WiFi, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), ZigBee, and LoRa are popular wireless options. Each one has its own combination of strengths and weaknesses.
Gateways communicate with the thousands of end nodes, aggregate the data and send it to the cloud, often over a fiber-optic backbone. The gateways must be able to handle the diversity of end-node protocols, and perform analysis as needed.
The Cloud Layer processes the data streams to control the operation of the various functions, plus gathers data to identify longer-term opportunities for improvement (data analytics). The cloud may extend downstream to the gateways, a strategy Cisco has called “fog computing.” As shown in Figure 2, this approach processes time-sensitive data (area traffic light control, for example) in the most efficient location, which reduces the burden on the network backbone.
The Smart City infrastructure requires the integration of a diverse set of technologies into a seamless whole, and suppliers are working with cities to help the vision become a reality. Intel, for example, is involved in multiple projects worldwide that range from smart kiosks in Eindhoven, Holland, to a network of sensors that helps residents of San Jose, CA, reduce air pollution.
These projects illustrate the breadth of solutions that must be brought to bear for a successful deployment. The Eindhoven kiosks, called Smart Beacons, allow both tourists and residents to interact with local businesses, plus access weather, news, and entertainment information. Smart Beacons feature two 55-inch HD screens and a 32-inch screen, plus free Gigabit+ WiFi. They rely on several Intel products, such as a 6th Generation i5 (Skylake) processor and an Intel solid-state drive (SSD).
The Intel CoreTM i5-6500 14nm desktop processor is a good example: It’s a 64-bit quad-core machine built on 14nm technology that runs at a base frequency of up to 2.3GHz and includes options such as AES encryption and an integrated graphics processor with 4096x2304 resolution.
For a representative SSD, consider the Intel e6000p: It’s a 16GB SSD based on Intel‘s Optane memory module that features typical read and write latencies of 8.25μs and 30μs, respectively.
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As a freelance technical writer, Paul Pickering has written on a wide range of topics including: semiconductor components & technology, passives, packaging, power electronic systems, automotive electronics, IoT, embedded software, EMC, and alternative energy. Paul has over 35 years of engineering and marketing experience in the electronics industry, including time spent in automotive electronics, precision analog, power semiconductors, embedded systems, logic devices, flight simulation and robotics. He has hands-on experience in both digital and analog circuit design, embedded software, and Web technologies. Originally from the North-East of England, he has lived and worked in Europe, the US, and Japan. He has a B.Sc. (Hons) in Physics & Electronics from Royal Holloway College, University of London, and has done graduate work at Tulsa University.
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