An overwhelming range of possibilities
The impacts of the Internet of Things on our cities don’t begin and end with urban buildings — everything from the morning commute to public parks are incorporating Internet of Things technologies.
Buildings and architecture: The modern-day building is much more than brick and mortar — tiny sensors create entire networks, providing information about what’s happening in spaces at any point in time. Picard cites the example of Enlighted, a company that installs sensors into the lighting fixtures of commercial buildings.
“These sensors gather data and are able to communicate with one another to improve energy consumption and provide data about exactly what’s happening within the building,” he says.
Public spaces: Public spaces such as parks or sidewalks may also begin to utilize the technology to make city life easier and more efficient.
Lighting, sprinklers and more: Perhaps street lamps aren’t the sexiest of technologies, but that could change in the future. Mobeen Khan, enterprise Internet of Things practice leader at AT&T, points to initiatives such as this NYC proposal to turn street lamps into Wi-Fi hotspots, and suggests that “smart” lighting could use sensors for things like increased energy savings and public safety.
Big data, big decisions and even bigger questions
The Internet of Things is inextricably tied to another of today’s hottest tech buzzwords: Big Data. Sensor technology provides real-time data that can influence everything from personal comfort on a micro-level, to sustainability and clean energy on a macro-level.
“Beyond the companies doing things in a big way like IBM and Cisco, you have ‘micro’ people like us, in the genre of artists and startup technology/architects, who are much more avant garde and trying to sort through not just the technical potential but the creative potential,” he says. “We’re taking these really complex systems that have been set up by corporations and governments, and trying to find ways to make them legible and interject a human sensibility — finding the creative potential and poetry in systems.”