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Why City Planners are Marrying Sensors with the IoT

What do you think of when someone mentions the internet of things (IoT)? A lot of us have been conditioned to think of things like smart refrigerators that can remind us that we need to run to the store and grab a gallon of milk. Yet the IoT is capable of so much more. Marry it with the right kinds of sensors and it can do amazing things.

The benefits of marrying sensors with the IoT is not lost on city planners. In cities all across the country, new sensor technology is being combined with the IoT to make residents safer and governments more efficient. The two technologies have the capability of completely transforming how cities operate.

More About Sensors

The main thing for decision makers is understanding the vast sea of possibilities with sensor technology. Companies like Rock West Solutions are doing their part by educating city leaders about what sensors really are. The hardest thing is sometimes getting decision makers to understand that a sensor is not a single kind of device.

A sensor is any device capable of measuring some sort of signal and then reporting said measurements. The device in your car that measures how much fuel is in your tank is a simple sensor. So is the device that automatically turns on your driveway lights when you pull in at the end of the day.

Modern sensor technology is so exciting because we now have the ability to measure so many more things. And again, having the ability to marry sensors with the IoT only increases their capabilities.

Measuring Traffic in Las Vegas

One example of the exciting things being done with sensor technology is found in Las Vegas. City government is partnering with a Japanese company who recently installed a sensor system for monitoring one-way traffic. The system was connected to the IoT so that it could report real time data day and night.

What were city leaders trying to measure? They wanted to know how often cars were driving the wrong way on one-way streets. In a broader sense, city leaders also want to understand how one-way streets affect traffic patterns. To that end, they discovered something shocking. Rather than just one or two cars traveling in the wrong direction, sensors picked up as many as 40 per week.

The number was a lot higher than city leaders had anticipated. The good news is that the sensor program revealed a problem that city leaders could then go about fixing. City crews have since installed new signage that data shows has helped cut down on the number of wrong way drivers in the city.

Remote Data Gathering in Real Time

Counting the number of wrong way drivers may not seem like a very exciting use of sensor technology. But when you consider the alternative, the Las Vegas program is a step ahead. Without sensors married to the IoT, gathering the same data would have required parking people on one-way streets and monitoring them 24 hours a day.

That’s the way things were done in the past. Needless to say it was time-consuming and expensive from a labor standpoint. Installing IoT-connected sensors changes the game entirely. Now cities are able to gather real-time information remotely.

Marrying sensors with the IoT helps cities better understand everything from traffic patterns to infrastructure issues. It also leads to faster and smarter decisions. Who knows what will be possible 10 or 15 years from now? If today’s sensor systems are any indication, the future looks rather exciting for city planners and managers.