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How To Use IoT For Smart Parking Solution Development

Illustration: © IoT For All

Smart parking is a practical IoT application that can dramatically improve everyone’s life.

Imagine, you arrive at your destination twenty minutes early for a very important meeting. You have plenty of time as long as you can find a place to park.

The parking lot for the building is full. You drive around desperately looking for a space on the street but do not find one. You try the underground parking lot of the building across the street. Driving in, you suddenly have to stop. There is plenty of traffic ahead of you trying to do the same thing. You attempt to call the meeting to say you will be late and there is no cell phone signal in the underground parking garage.

It takes a half-hour to find a space. When you finally arrive at the office for the meeting, you are sweating profusely and out of breath. The receptionist tells you that everybody already left. Your meeting was canceled and you have to deal with serious losses.

You are not alone. An average driver in the US wastes $345 per year, that results in over $70 billion annually nationwide.

Moreover, 40% of drivers surveyed said that they choose not to visit brick-n-mortar shops due to the hassle of finding a parking space.

Recent research is predicting that up to 68% of the people in the world will live in major metropolitan cities by 2050. This could have a direct impact on how car owners park in cities.

So, what can be done to improve parking in cities?

How IoT Smart Parking Works

Innovative smart parking technology combined with IoT connectivity helps solve this problem. Installed IoT sensors determine where empty parking spaces are located. This IoT data is transmitted over a wireless connection to a cloud server. All the data from the parking lot is collected and analyzed in real-time to produce a map of available spaces made available to those looking for a space.

Drivers looking for a parking space can refer to the real-time smart parking map and be guided to the nearest vacant space. Advanced systems can reserve these spaces and take electronic payments from the drivers.

In the case study for IoT smart parking solution development, the technical components include an ultrasonic sensor HC-SR04 that measures physical distances using ultrasonic waves, and a ESP8266 microcontroller. Both are installed at every parking space.

The IoT device sends a periodic update by wireless signal using the MQTT protocol to a cloud server running AWS IoT services. The cloud server assembles data about all parking slots. This shows users via a web or mobile application the available parking spots to let them choose one.

How IoT Sensors Detect Free Parking Space

IoT sensors use an ultrasonic wave to detect the distance to something. Each sensor is embedded in the parking space surface and detects the distance to the undercarriage of a vehicle if the parking space is occupied.

3 Possible Detection Conditions

  1. Space is Occupied: Distance detected to an object by the sensor is in the range of 10 to 50 centimeters (about four to 20 inches).
  2. Space is Free: Distance detected to an object by the sensor is more than 50 centimeters (about 20 inches).
  3. Space is Dirty: Distance detected to an object by the sensor is less than 10 centimeters (about four inches).

If the condition is “dirty” the sensor may be covered by something or blocked and the device needs to be checked.

The application runs on AWS IoT and AWS Lambda and shows a driver free spaces in green, occupied spaces in red, and sensor malfunctions as yellow.

IoT Based Smart Parking System Configuration

The amount of parking spaces in a parking lot determines the software and hardware requirements for IoT configuration and system architecture. For large parking lots, it’s better to use gateway and the LPWAN protocol for the sensors.

LoRaWAN standard adoption is one of the current IoT trends and the way to increase the operating hours of an autonomous system by reducing power usage. According to the specifications of the LoRa Alliance, this reduces the need to replace the batteries. Battery life is extended up to five years before needing replacement.

Sensors for IoT Based Smart Parking

Smart parking sensor types include ultrasonic, electromagnetic field detection, and infrared.

  • Ultrasonic: The accuracy of the sensing is improved by using ultrasound for measurement detection. The disadvantage of this type of sensor is a potential blockage by dirt.
  • Electromagnetic Field Detection: This sensor detects small changes in the magnetic field when metal things come close to the sensor.
  • Infrared: This type of sensor measures changes in the surrounding temperature and detects motion.

Parking 4.0: Future and Opportunities in Smart Cities

Deployment of smart parking systems is expected to continue to increase because the technology is extremely useful and makes helpful improvements in daily life. The following advanced features can be added to the system to turn it into a highly multi-functional management tool.

  • Parking demand management and space optimization
  • Personalized parking guidance
  • Parking reservation systems
  • Dynamic parking prices and policy optimization
  • Detection of parking zones, fees, and overstay violations.

For large-scale parking lots, augmented reality technology may create a mapping function overlay on top of real images captured by a smartphone. These AR-based outdoor and indoor navigation systems can guide drivers with a virtual path to their parked cars.

Another innovation uses visual image processing to capture the license number of a vehicle to recognize it with the help of Optical Character Recognition technology. Then, it automatically opens the gate to the parking lot and the system guides the driver to a suitable parking space.

The future seems to be quite promising for smart parking systems. Technologies lying behind this solution are IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality–the same ones that are driving digital transformation for businesses under the “Industry 4.0” term. Leveraging these innovations, Parking 4.0 will increase parking systems efficiency by solving urbanization challenges.

Written by Viktor Gubochkin, IoT Lead Solution Architect at MobiDev.

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IoT Technology Is Transforming the Agricultural Sector as We Know It

Illustration: © IoT For All

The Internet of Things (IoT) has generated a lot of attention over the years, and for good reason. In today’s digitized age, IoT technology is helping many industries improve their operations. Even agriculture is starting to embrace IoT connectivity. Global food demand is growing, and traditional agriculture simply can’t produce enough food to meet the world’s nutritional needs. To save future generations from hunger and malnutrition, farmers will need to deploy more innovative techniques to increase their yields.

IoT & Big Data in Agriculture

This is where IoT technology steps in to give a helping hand. IoT-driven smart farming will offer farmers new ways to manage their farms and help them improve not only the quantity but also the quality of their produce. This is a growing industry, and it’s expected that the global smart agriculture market will reach $17.9 billion by 2025, compared to $7.1 billion in 2017.

A Dairy Farm in Russia Relies on IoT to Improve Milk Production

To make farming as effective as possible, a company from Russia called ALAN-IT developed Dairy Production Analytics (DPA). DPA is a dairy production management service that provides dairy farmers with information about environmental conditions and other factors important for dairy production. This solution is currently being used at the Voshazhnikovo farm in Russia. The farm has 4,500 dairy cows, which used to produce 125 tons of milk per day or 28 liters per cow. After the implementation of DPA, milk production at the Voshazhnikovo farm increased to 33 liters per cow every day, a growth of 18 percent.

The way DPA works is by gathering information from external sources, including sensor devices designed to monitor temperature, humidity, pressure and wind speed and direction. The cloud-based platform then stores and analyzes the data to help farmers make better decisions. The solution will notify farmers about changes on the farm and allow them to take action immediately. For instance, thanks to the new system, the farmers realized that the cows’ food needs to increase in quantity when temperatures on the farm get lower. Having this information in mind, farmers were able to establish a proper feeding routine, which, as a result, improved milk production. Without DPA, this wouldn’t be possible.

Installing IoT Stations in Potato Fields Could Help Farmers Save Money

Besides milk, IoT technology could also improve potato production. At least that’s one of the goals of the EU-funded IoF2020 (Internet of Food and Farm 2020) project. The main objective of the project is to enhance the EU farming sector and make precision farming a reality. In one of its use cases, IoF2020 proposes using smart farming solutions to help European potato producers overcome a number of challenges. Dealing with crop diseases and pests, as well as climate change effects, has become a major struggle for potato producers. But using inexpensive cutting-edge technology could help food producers better cope with existing challenges.

For example, they could install telemetric IoT stations in potato fields to collect weather and soil data. Based on the gathered data, farmers would be able to adjust their activities to specific conditions and ensure efficient use of resources. As a result, this could lead to 15 percent less pesticide use and 25 percent less water consumption. Also, according to IoF2020’s website, farmers could reduce their total input costs by 19 percent.

The SuperField Platform Will Store, Visualize and Process Agricultural Data in Real-Time

Achieving better productivity and environmental sustainability in farming heavily relies on farmers’ involvement in smart agriculture practices. However, high farm segmentation, along with the industry’s complexity and economic pressure, have delayed the adoption of smart farming in many parts of the world. User-friendly IoT platforms could make the industry less complex and help every stakeholder within the sector make better decisions.

SuperField, for instance, “aims to introduce a holistic platform that can collect, store, visualize, exchange and process agricultural field data in real or near real-time”. Thanks to the platform, farmers can know what’s happening in their fields, even when they’re not there. Compared to other solutions, the SuperField platform is more affordable, which could accelerate its wider adoption in the coming years. Farmers can have access to the platform in the form of a monthly or yearly subscription, with no additional costs.

The Future of Agriculture

Technology is revolutionizing many industries, including agriculture. Based on current advances in agriculture technology, it’s evident that innovation such as IoT has become a more prominent part of the industry. As the tech becomes even more sophisticated and affordable, farmers’ reliance on IoT will inevitably grow in the future.

Written by Richard van Hooijdonk, Trendwatcher, futurist and keynote speaker
Source: IoT For All

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Sustainability Process Blueprint

Illustration: © IoT For All

Good business and environmental stewardship go hand-in-hand with sustainability as Wall Street investors elevate the value of companies that demonstrate improving environmental and social governance performance. Essentially, what’s good for the environment is also good for consumers and the bottom line.

But because technology is changing the way companies integrate sustainability into their business strategies, the tool with which progress in this area has traditionally been measured—the sustainability scorecard—may no longer be the right one for the job.

IoT and analytics enable an innovative approach to a sustainability scorecard by using IoT devices to remotely monitor, measure and catalog quantifiable metrics around energy, air and water relevant to sustainability. We define it as the sustainability process blueprint approach.

Keep reading to find out why the scorecard falls short, and how a different approach can actually be more indicative of your company’s progress on the road to sustainability.

Where the Sustainability Scorecard Falls Short  

Sustainability information is important to both investors and customers, but few environmental sustainability reporting mechanisms (and corporate social responsibility scorecards in general) provide specific and accurate information about a company’s sustainability practices. In general, scorecards provide a qualitative view of performance, evaluating the level of commitment in terms of broad categories like company culture and engagement, corporate vision and strategic planning. In other words, are you fostering effective corporate governance and including the right decision-makers on your team to make real progress? (Here’s an example of a sustainability scorecard that rates corporate progress with broad brushstrokes.)

In addition, legacy scorecards measure progress only at a specific point in time. That limits the notion of success to the evaluation of a single moment and leaves little room for characterizing and analyzing a company’s ongoing efforts in a useful way.

This traditional approach to sustainability reporting may help outsiders to understand the mindset of corporate governance, but it does little to provide the support needed by investors and consumers to trust that leaders’ intentions are, in fact, coming to fruition. Both this lack of transparency and the sustainability scorecard’s static method of reporting leave much to be desired from a credibility standpoint.

The New Scorecard: The Sustainability Process Blueprint     

Why just talk about strategies your company is implementing to improve when you could be providing data around actual improvements?   The sustainability process blueprint employs a dynamic approach focusing on key metrics from which remotely monitored data is measured and cataloged in a format that provides insight as well as the ability to benchmark progress towards goals and objectives and comparisons to peers.  Sensor data and analytics provide the framework to offer visual understanding, context and perspective of progress towards sustainability.

The sustainability process blueprint approach answers three key questions about your commitment to sustainability: 1) Do you have a plan, or blueprint, for improving your sustainability over time? 2) Are your sustainability efforts actually having an impact? 3) How are you performing in comparison to other companies in your industry?

This approach is possible using the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT sensors allow you to measure almost every aspect of your business environment, facility and operations around the clock, from energy usage to water and air quality to leakage detection and more. (See these seven metrics for ideas about what your company could measure with regard to sustainability.) The granular data you collect—and that your IoT analytics platform helps you analyze—leads to better sustainability reporting for several reasons:

  1. It offers a more dynamic approach to sustainability than traditional scorecards. Forget about “point in time” assessments. Now you have actual data that can be examined over time. This data acts as a feedback mechanism, allowing you to actually “see” the impact of your efforts.
  2. It offers more details than legacy scorecards. Instead of viewing sustainability from general, high-level perspectives, you can see it from the ground-up—how much energy even a single piece of equipment actually uses, for example, or the actual levels of volatile organic compounds present in your building’s air.  
  3. It allows you to perform data analysis for the purpose of devising smart sustainability strategies. Otherwise “invisible” building characteristics can be transformed into quantifiable data points that can be used in a statistical or analytical model for context. For instance, strategies can be implemented to directly address equipment using excess energy, or the root causes of air pollution.
  4. It allows you to benchmark your company’s performance against others in your industry. Benchmarking can help you see if you’re moving in the right direction and on the right initiatives. It can also highlight specific areas for improvement going forward.

A process blueprint represents a new approach to sustainability reporting: one that produces a quantitative, metric-specific and dynamic process showing your progress toward the ultimate goal of sustainability.

Source: IoT For All

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Smart Cities: A New Look at the Autonomous-Vehicle Infrastructure

Illustration: © IoT For All

As digital transformation has taken over the world, we interact with more and more intelligent gadgets. Today, our smartphones are always with us; at the end of the day, we get in our smart vehicle and drive to our smart home. And all this to simplify our daily activities and make life more convenient. But have you ever wondered how far could this go?

Automation of routine tasks is currently a concept that interests many industries. Among the most revolutionary parts of it are autonomous vehicles. There are visions of the future of city infrastructure. The main ideas they all share are self-driving cars and shared mobility. Those are set to revolutionize the ways we navigate through cities. 

Such concepts will make our whole cities smart, by fundamentally changing their infrastructure so that it’s adapted to autonomous vehicles. This will provide us with much safer roads. According to the USA National Highway Traffic Administration, 94 percent of serious car crashes are due to human error.

Autonomous driving wouldn’t need people’s decisions, which could often be dangerous and irrational to take you from point A to point B. This means a significant decrease in accidents and thousands of saved lives. 

The tremendous technological progress now gives us the possibility to have a closer look at all the advantages we could have in our cities of the future, together with autonomous driving and the new smart infrastructure. 

It’s expected that thanks to the advanced 5G network, combined with the Internet of Things, the global market revenue of autonomous vehicles will hit $556.67 billion by 2026. All those emerging technologies working together will change the traditional look of our cities, and they’ll become smart as well. 

However, we’re still years away from fully autonomous cars hitting the mass market. So what’s the key to adopting this revolutionary technology, and how do we need to change our cities to make that possible?

The Autonomous Vehicle Infrastructure

We wouldn’t be able to go fully autonomous without the right infrastructure. We can’t just switch to self-driving cars. The shift will also require enhanced manufacturing processes and new kinds of supply chains. Most importantly, the infrastructure must be prepared for it. Once all that’s ready, we’ll start seeing autonomous cars on urban streets.

We’re getting closer to the time when mobility freedom will finally be available to everyone. To measure that, KPMG has made an Automotive Vehicle Readiness Index, which shows how prepared different countries are for autonomous driving. According to their research, the country that’s most prepared for the new infrastructure is the Netherlands. It could serve as a model for other countries to follow to accelerate the global adoption of the technology. 

Right behind, in 2nd and 3rd places, are Singapore and the United States. However, none of those countries has a total score of over 30, which means that even the most prepared countries at the moment still have a long way to go.

A Challenging Project

The automotive industry is rapidly evolving, which makes the need for the new smart autonomous vehicle infrastructure more necessary than ever. Authorities have to consider updates to it and work with developers to make the new wave of urban transformation successful. 

What the Netherlands has, more than the others, are harmonized regulations, standards and excellent roads that will easily undergo renovation. To be ready for self-driving cars, this country would still need some improvements, such as advanced on-road telematics, smart curbs, and lanes. 

Here are changes to be made so that the new smart city infrastructure will be suitable for autonomous vehicles:

Lane Marking

Poor road markings are challenging even for the already existing connected vehicles. It’s something that has to be worked on for the effective adoption of AVs. The road markings should not only be reflective but machine-readable. 

Roadside Sensors

To be prepared for the driverless future, roadside sensors should be included on sidewalks, curbs and lanes. They will allow vehicles to keep track of their surroundings and foresee potentially dangerous situations.

Smart Signage

Current autonomous vehicles use image recognition for reading road signs. However, a much more reliable approach would be machine-readable signs. They will include an embedded code that could be transmitted. They’ll send messages detectable by computers. 

Changing the Way Cities Look

Cities of the future will be transformed into actual digital hubs. We know technology today is mostly human-centered, which means that cities will become better places to live. The adoption of connected autonomous vehicles will increase road capacity and reduce congestion, even in the most densely populated areas. 

It’s expected that the driverless future will fundamentally change the look of cities’ infrastructure. For instance, traffic lights might no longer be needed, as they were originally designed for humans. Instead, machines could determine driving priority themselves and actually be more efficient. Autonomous cars are also connected and they could form fleets that travel in the same direction and share all the information on their surroundings.

Smart roads that include the right signage, sensors and lining will be extremely useful for vehicles, making passengers experience safer than ever. 

Following our previous example of the Netherlands as the most AV-ready country in the world, we can see that the changes that they’ve made to their infrastructure already result in safety, as the number of road deaths decreases every year

No More Parking Facilities

Looking for a parking spot can be quite stressful. Fortunately, with the revolution of autonomous vehicles, cities won’t need any type of parking anymore. Garages will move outside of downtown areas, thanks to the predicted trend of shared mobility. 

Furthermore, self-driving cars are able to use narrower driving lanes and maneuver better than existing cars, so parking spaces will be optimized to accommodate more cars. All the space that is currently used for parking could find new uses in smart cities. 

Connectivity Is Key

From a single traffic cone to the overall autonomous driving infrastructure – it’s all about connectivity. Have you noticed that no one mentions fuel when talking about autonomous vehicles? Well, that’s because gasoline wouldn’t matter as much as connectivity would.

Autonomous vehicles will bring tons of sensors and IoT devices to modern cities. The advanced 5G network will allow them to constantly receive and transmit huge amounts of data. Moreover, the steering wheel will be replaced by whatever the driver desires, which will produce more load on the network.

The Impact of 5G

5G might be the missing piece of the puzzle to make efficient autonomous vehicles. The network claims to be a hundred times faster than the current 4G. It’s expected that it would serve 40 percent of the world by 2024.

5G wireless technology would require extensive infrastructure. New fiber-optic cables will have to be placed throughout this new autonomous vehicle infrastructure. This will be helpful for future infrastructure changes for self-driving cars. The promise of this next-generation network to bring safer driverless cars could lead to a revolutionary development of smart cities. 

A New Life for Cities

Automotive vehicles won’t just change the way we travel, they will generally change the look of current infrastructure, not only in cities but on highways as well. The AV revolution might bring us to a future of smooth and predictable traffic and more efficient public transportation. 

City residents will have more free space to make use of. Moreover, there will be fewer risks for pedestrians and bicyclists as they have many concerns about urban areas. All of the benefits that autonomous vehicles together with smart cities could bring will improve millions of people’s quality of life while taking next-level care for the environment.  

Written by Sophie Zoria, Written by Sophie Zoria, writer and IoT researcher, Freelance writer
Source: IoT For All