Data-enabled services are booming — and transforming how we live.
In business, the ability to extract strategic value from data is increasingly separating winners from losers. In building, we've entered an era when the environments in which we work and shop use data gathered from Internet of Things-enabled systems to optimize a range of functions. And in cities across the world, urban planners are using data-enabled services to drive efficiencies, solve stubborn problems, and in general improve the lives of residents.
Here are some specific — and startling — ways in which data-driven tech is changing the rules in some key areas.
A bold vision for tunnels
One striking aspect of today's fast-developing data-enabled services is that often we're accessing them via technologies that we take for granted, or that we might have little idea are especially high-tech at all.
Take smart street lighting systems, which afford the connectivity that allows public light points across a city to share data about themselves and participate in the Internet of Things (IoT). Using on-board intelligence and integrated sensors, connected light points can collect and share data about their own operations and the illuminated environment. Via machine learning and other approaches to data analytics, a smart lighting system can tell planners where people congregate, where they park and how they drive, when they're most likely to come and go, and more. Lights can be set to dim automatically when streets are empty, or a park can get the level and type of light it requires to become an after-dark favorite.
But connected lighting can do more than provide intelligent lighting. It can deliver a wide range of non-light-related services as well.
Take something that motorists do often, without really giving much thought to it: drive through tunnels. An accident deep inside a long tunnel can be catastrophically inhibiting to the flow of traffic. It can be especially dangerous when the release of dangerous chemicals is involved.
Enter the sensors with which a connected tunnel lighting system can be equipped. These can immediately alert emergency crews not only to the fact that an accident has happened, but that a caustic compound has leaked out of a tanker truck and into the environment, giving them the chance to respond quickly safely, and appropriately.
Sensor-enabled connected lighting systems in the city at large can also help law enforcement. For example, sensors can pinpoint the location where gunshots have been fired. The system can instantly generate emergency alerts, giving police a jump on getting to the scene.