Leveraging AI and IoT in Smart Cities Development

When you think of IoT, you might think of the smart devices available for your home. Smart devices are more than just beneficial to homeowners. IoT together with artificial intelligence (AI) can turn many of today’s city infrastructure into a more efficient hub for government workers, businesses, and the general public. Everything from traffic management to railroad safety to robotic arms that help with heavy industrial lifting can be leveraged in smart city development. In every traditional element, IoT and AI can transform cities into more efficient and safe smart hubs that benefit society.

Daytime IoT and Turning Cities into Smart Hubs

It’s hard to imagine that IoT and AI can improve just about any process in our day-to-day lives. For daytime business, IoT can be especially beneficial in increasing sales and improving customer safety. Zion Market Research estimates that more than 70% of the global population will live in cities by 2050, making smart cities important for our future advancement. IBM’s research into the workforce in New York City found that people waited an average of 22.5 years for an elevator, which indicates that even basic comforts can use IoT and AI to become more efficient. In another example, the Paris government introduced a program called Autolib in 2011 where drivers with smart dashboards using GPS could reserve parking spaces before they arrived so that time can be saved in finding a parking spot in the city. The opportunities for IoT and improving daily lives are endless, and adding AI to the mix can automate many of the inefficient systems and help workers make better decisions.

For businesses, busy buyer traffic can be good for revenue, but with social distancing and occupancy limitations during COVID-19 restrictions, businesses can lose money if customers are unwilling to wait. Two IoT and AI products can help. Cameras using recognition technology can be used to determine if maximum occupancy has been reached, which eliminates human error and allows employees to focus on selling. Using IoT devices to detect heatmaps where most buyer traffic flows, businesses can place point-of-sale (PoS) systems in prime locations. Heat maps are used to graphically represent where most traffic enter and exit a business, so it can be used to better understand where customers browse your store. These PoS systems can be used to buy product instead of forcing users to browse inside the store. They can also provide convenience for window shoppers to buy product without going indoors. For example, Taiwan-based EC Life, a gaming retail store, found that customers would come into shops to test the product but leave to order online. The friction caused frustration between customers and management. They integrated Advantech UShop+ to drive in-store sales and direct foot traffic to specific locations.

Shoppers browsing your store can work with interactive digital signage to find out more about a product. By providing interactive displays, shoppers can get information about a product without assistance from an employee. Interactive digital signage gives the customer what they need to know and helps them follow social distancing regulations. It also reduces the number of employees necessary to run the store even during busy shopping hours.

One of the most inefficient systems in busy cities is transportation. Whether it’s busy traffic intersections, train platforms, or bus systems, people often crowd into one location and create a bottleneck. Inefficient traffic lights can interfere with bus transportation, making bus users late to their destination. The same can be said about busy intersections especially during rush hour traffic in the morning and night where many businesses are located.

IoT and AI can be used to help alleviate traffic bottlenecks and detect incidents that require an ambulance or police response. Instead of having a fixed wait time at an intersection, smart traffic cameras attached to deep learning backend devices can be used to improve traffic flow and decrease long lines of cars waiting at a signal during rush hour.

IoT Solutions for Nighttime Business and City Activity

Nighttime monitoring and camera systems can be used for many benefits. Incidents observed by monitoring systems can be identified and used to manage risks. These systems work with a machine learning backend to provide more precise decision-making tools so that cities can more accurately respond to incidents. With AI and machine learning, systems can “learn” to identify false positives and send alerts only when necessary.

As an example, city bus stops can be dangerous at night. Advantech’s partner Erreuno in Italy needed to upgrade over 40 bus stops with better security for commuters. With Advantech technology, they were able to provide remotely managed security systems for reliable communication from bus stops in town to a central security center allowing travelers to commute with peace of mind and better safety.

Retail stores traditionally close at night in cities, but touchscreen kiosk stations placed near stores can be used by passerby window shoppers and interested buyers. This equipment gives retail store owners constant marketing and sales potential even when their doors are closed. They can be used for nighttime customers who want to pick up products in the morning or possibly for shipments the next day.

Industrial manufacturing within cities can also use smart IoT technology. Robotic arms using AI can help with building in harsh environments either in ones where chemicals could harm humans or at elevated heights where they could put construction workers in harm’s way. These industrial grade robotic arms also use high-power computing power to make decisions based on target goal.

For example, industrial robotic arms along with AI can be used to detect small yet important defects in products. Traditional computer vision faces limitations, but AI technology allows these devices to inspect products and detect defects in real-time. Leveraging data-driven AI, industrial manufacturers get precise robotic accuracy that can detect tiny nuanced differences for multiple production lines.

Advantech Provides Advanced IoT with AI Capabilities for Tomorrow’s Smart City

Advantech supplies and deploys several high-end advanced IoT systems across cities including retail stores, transportation locations (e.g., train stations), high-traffic shopping centers, and traffic signal crossroads. Our systems replace traditional surveillance technology to give our customers full artificial intelligence decision-making tools. These decision-making tools provide operators with quicker response times and more accurate control of signaling, warning alarms, and announcements.

In addition to these IoT systems, Advantech also supplies and deploys mobile tablets that can be used to interface with many of the city equipment installed across environments. This equipment includes mobile PoS devices that can be used by retail employees to help work with shoppers as they use kiosks and digital signage.

IoT triggered the revolution of intelligence surveillance. Together with industrial cloud services, equipment and devices into a network of collaborative technology. Advantech provides the backbone and foundation for smart cities, industrial factories, security, surveillance, transportation, and many other aspects of daily life.

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