At CES, Glitzy Wearables, Snazzy Smart Cars, and, Yes, Trash Cans
Walking the miles of aisles at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, it’s easy to see how the Internet of Everything (IoE) is revolutionizing our lives. Super-smart homes, cars, drones, and all manner of entertainment are on display seemingly everywhere, along with a mind-boggling array of wearable, connected technologies.
But CES — and IoE — are not just about how we interact with cool gadgets. They are also about new ways to connect with the public-sector environment. And there are extremely exciting possibilities coming to life in our towns, cities, and communities.
Ultimately, these public-sector breakthroughs could have a profound impact. Just think about how much of your quality of life is affected on a daily basis — directly or indirectly — by parking, waste management, crime, public utilities, and government services.
Cisco predicts that $4.6 trillion of value will be “at stake” in the public sector over the next decade ($19 trillion for the public and private sectors combined), driven by “connecting the unconnected” through the Internet of Everything. We also estimate that 99.4 percent of physical objects that may one day be part of the Internet of Everything are still unconnected.
Among those dark, unconnected assets are trash cans. Now, waste management might not seem to be the sexiest topic to discuss at a Las Vegas show dominated by glitzy wearables and snazzy smart cars. But I had a great conversation here with Jim Poss, president of BigBelly Solar. His company has been working with the city of Philadelphia to develop solar-powered, connected garbage containers. If you think about it, those humongous trucks that haul off heavy trash containers are responsible for a lot of fuel consumption — in Philadelphia they cost $125 an hour to run. And many of those regularly scheduled trucks are picking up half-empty containers — while other cans may be overflowing with trash. By simply “lighting up” those dumb trashcans, trucks drive only to the ones that are full. In the pilot program in Philadelphia, this has resulted in a drop in trash pickups from 17 per week to two.
Jim said that across the United States, garbage trucks use an oil-tanker-sized amount of fuel every four days, and a billion gallons a year to pick up 17 large bins per second. Imagine the national energy savings from applying connectivity to cut unnecessary pickups.
Parking is another topic that may not be top-of-mind here (unless, of course, you brought your car to Las Vegas!). But connected parking spaces have the potential for enormous savings in money, fuel, time, and aggravation (mental health, after all, is a core public sector issue). Drivers in search of parking spaces are estimated to account for 30 percent of all traffic in major cities. What if every driver knew exactly where to go to find a space, then paid the meter automatically from his or her smart device?
For those who rely on mass transit, IoE offers other benefits. At CES, there were demonstrations of interactive kiosks that allow even tourists to easily figure out their the best route, when the next train will arrive, and if there are any real-time delays. Public Wi-Fi will extend the services to any mobile smart device.
Smart lighting was a key feature for many of the innovative connected home presentations at CES. But such technologies can also have an enormous impact when scaled up for towns and cities. Motion sensors detect when streetlights need to be on, saving money and fighting crime. Plus, a public Wi-Fi network to run systems such as smart lighting can be scaled and adapted for many other public uses.
Antoni Vives, deputy mayor of Barcelona, was in Las Vegas to share how IoE has become the backbone of his city’s transformation. Smart-lighting initiatives, he said, have saved the city $37 million per year; smart water, $58 million. And, revenue from connected parking has increased by $50 million. Most important, he said, were the 47,000 jobs added over six years as a result IoE-related initiatives — all during highly challenging economic times.
I believe that Barcelona is on the cutting edge of a sweeping transformation that will make our cities, towns, and communities more livable, productive, sustainable, and fun. IoE is the key.
What do you think?