Smart cities, the Internet of Things and the Blue Revolution

At the end of the 14th century, a handful of Italian intellectuals banded together to help create a “rinascita” (rebirth) of learning. These Renaissance intellectuals blended literature, art and culture to help drive innovation and the first true “smart” cities were born.

{mosads}Now seven centuries later, we have encountered a core set of technological game-changers. Dubbed “emerging technologies,” the integration of social media, data (big data, data analytics, open data), cloud computing, mobility and the Internet of Things (IOT) into the American business ecosystem has spurred the promise of potential and profound social and economic impacts.

We are now entering a new era of emerging connected technologies that blend engineering, algorithms and culture: stepping stones to a new renaissance.

According to IDC’s 2013 estimate, there are now 9.1 billion connected “things,” with that figure rising to about 28 billion by 2020 and over 50 billion by 2025. The IOT ecosystem is enormous and is projected to result in over $2 trillion in economic impact in the next decade. This IOT system starts with the individual and spans all the way to the industrial sectors. The nexus point for the IOT ecosystems are our nation’s towns and cities.

In the past few years, cities have migrated from analog to digital and have become increasingly “smarter.” A smart city uses digital technologies for information and communication technologies to enhance quality and performance of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens.

A smart city is indeed a laboratory for applied innovation. A smart city and its accompanying ecosystem can influence and impact the industrial verticals including transportation, energy, power generation and agriculture.

One critical example of the benefits of smart technological innovation relates to fighting drought. Our nation is facing large-scale drought conditions across a vast swath of our lands. Water rationing and spiking utility prices are now the norm, but there is hope. Within the agriculture community, we are now seeing the emergence of a “Blue Revolution.” Using a vast enterprise of smart sensors and real time data, our nation’s farmers are capitalizing on the integration of emerging technologies into the agriculture ecosystem.

An excellent example of the Blue Revolution at work are vertical farms. Operating indoors, these facilities are built up, not out. Many of these vertical farms are located in or near metropolitan areas. Vertical farms are connected internally through small sensors either in the soil or directly connected to plants. They are externally connected to other business vertical networks, thus being able to closely track supply and demand. They can also be automated, employ drip irrigation and significantly reduce water usage.

This leads us to the underlying connection between IOT and smart cities in addressing the drought epidemic. As a truly connected IOT smart city ecosystem is realized, from the individual to the industrial sector, the promise of impacting issues of national importance such as drought is profound. According to David Evans, CTO of Stringify, if just 1 percent of the homes in the U.S. saved one drop of water per minute, it would equal almost 35 million gallons per year. That is enough to water 100 acres of corn.

By incorporating sensors into pipes transferring water from aquifers and other sources, we can now detect and prevent leakage, saving as much as 30 percent of the water now being lost in transit to the end consumer. The integration of sensors, smart meters and data analytics can provide visibility and measurement of inefficiencies, allowing for predictive modeling and amelioration of water management issues.

Smart technologies, processes, and ultimately, operations, are the cogs of smart cities and the Internet of Things. We have entered a new renaissance as accelerated technological development is exponentially transforming our civilization. Confronting the issues of drought demonstrates how innovation and ingenuity in the new tech era can impact the future.

Logsdon is the senior director of public advocacy for CompTIA. In this role, he runs the association’s New and Emerging Technologies Committee (focused on the policy surrounding social, mobile, big data/data analytics, cloud, internet of things, and smart cities). He was also the staff lead for CompTIA’s federally focused technology convergence commission, which examined the impact on the public sector when social, mobile, analytics and cloud converge. Follow him on Twitter @DJLSmartData. Brooks serves as the vice president for government relations and marketing for Sutherland Government Solutions. He is also vice chairman of the CompTIA New and Emerging Technologies Committee. Brooks served at the Department of Homeland Security as the first director of legislative affairs for the Science and Technology Directorate. He also spent six years on Capitol Hill as a senior advisor to the late Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.). Follow him on Twitter @ChuckDBrooks and on LinkedIn here.

Tags Agriculture Drought Internet of Things IOT smart cities smart city

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