Smart City Gets Connected

By Uta Springer

In the future, most of us will be urbanites. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, exhibitors showed us what life in a smart city might look like.

Smart City Gets Connected

One of the biggest topics at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year was the “Connected City.” After all, an estimated 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050. This poses a huge social and ecological challenge for the new megacities. Mobile networks could be the answer.

Intelligent things simplify city living

Visitors to the MWC were able to experience first-hand what life in a connected city might look like: A real city street with cafés, a hotel, cars, bicycles, and houses was set up right inside the convention hall. A connected city like this is populated with intelligent things that are fitted with sensors and connected to one another via M2M communication.

For example, there are cameras situated at many strategic points throughout this smart city. In the case of an accident, one of these cameras can notify police immediately. As a result, authorities can quickly arrive on-site and headquarters can reroute traffic centrally before a traffic jam occurs. Megacity Rio de Janeiro is already using this technology.

But you’re not left in a lurch if you decide to forego intelligent public transportation and travel with your own car instead. Navigation systems are a driver’s new best friend: Using traffic patterns generated via predictive analysis, they can direct you around any traffic jams. They can also find you a great sushi restaurant, thanks to restaurant finder apps from the App Store running on the SAP Mobile platform. And they can turn on your heating system for you on your way home, so that your apartment is nice and warm when you arrive.

Clever car owners can even save money, thanks to insurance premiums that are calculated based on driver behavior and number of miles driven.

If you’d rather take the subway to work, network providers such as Ericsson have something to offer. The “Window of Opportunity” is not a normal window – it can do much more. The situation is all too familiar: You’re sitting on the subway train, chatting on your mobile, or want to send a quick e-mail, when all of a sudden, you lose your connection. How annoying! The solution may be near: Thanks to a built-in antenna, your mobile could “sign up” to the window you are sitting beside.

An app is available from the App Store that enables subway passengers to find out in real time, for example, if a train has been delayed. If the user adds more preferences, he or she will also get additional, tailored information such as whether there’s currently a sale on at a particular store in the subway station. The Montreal subway system is already using this solution and, as a result, has better insight about its riders.

All-round service

Keeping the aging society in mind, the house of the future is also smart. Sensors in the house can notify authorities if the occupant has not moved for a while and might need some assistance.

And thanks to intelligent street lamps that turn on automatically when it gets dark out, citizens of the smart city can sleep easy at night, knowing they are protected.

SAP and Deutsche Telekom smarten up Hamburg’s port

Hamburg’s port is booming and growing steadily. In a few years’ time, they expect to handle 25 million containers annually. But this fantastic growth is also becoming a bit of a problem: Port authorities are concerned about backlogs and the increasing lack of space. Right now, truckers spend about half of their time waiting at the terminal.

SAP Research is collaborating with Deutsche Telekom to develop an IT platform with cloud services that allows companies, partners, and port customers to network better with one another. Geofencing helps port authorities keep an overview of the incoming trucks and direct traffic more efficiently. Truckers, in turn, will receive a mobile device loaded with information about the port from their trucking companies.

The geofencing mobile service includes the ability to make mobile payments for both private and commercial use, such as when the truck needs a replacement part. And this service does not end in Hamburg. If a trucker drives from Hamburg to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, for example, to help set up the exhibition there, he or she also has access to this service while in Spain.