Smart City of the Future – A network of networks of things
At CeBIT 2016, SAP and its partners were showing off a smart street light that illuminates not only its surroundings, but a path toward the city of the future, as well. This innovation will soon enable people, vehicles, energy utilities, industrial entities, and elements of infrastructure to communicate through the Internet of Things.
Intelligent traffic systems have long been at the top of the agenda for many municipal administrations. Transport in all its diverse forms is one of the biggest challenges cities and communities face around the world. From rising traffic levels, resulting bottlenecks, and the search for parking to environmental issues like smog and particulate matter, a range of problems are placing a noticeable burden on major urban centers. Traffic flow optimization, support for e-mobility, and intelligent resource management – through car sharing or the provision of parking, for instance – offer several promising approaches in this regard. SAP and its partners are aiding the process of gathering, integrating, and analyzing the huge amount of data required.
Intelligent Street lights combining energy efficiency with smart sensors
Much of what we’re presenting at CeBIT in this context can be defined as a “lighthouse project” – and in this case, that’s definitely meant to be taken literally. After all, the first smart street light is sure to illuminate the minds of some! Lamps like these provide not only energy-efficient LED light, but numerous other functions besides. When equipped with corresponding sensors, they can collect important environmental data and pass it on for further analysis. These street lights also help reduce urban traffic and can even serve as charging stations for electric vehicles.
These street lights, which are already undergoing real-world testing in German cities like Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, and Wiesloch, exemplify the possibilities offered by digitalized and integrated infrastructure. And just think: They represent just one small part of a greater smart energy concept. Interconnecting the lights’ charging stations with those on public parking lots and at companies in order to analyze their data and link it to information generated by vehicles will make it possible to optimize charging cycles – and thus energy consumption in general. Here, SAP is working with energy utility companies on building a smart grid that provides these charging stations with the best possible support.
Combined data helping to reduce traffic volume
Intelligent traffic management systems are another area in which smart street lights are only part of the bigger picture. These systems not only need to collect and analyze data, but also merge it with sensor data from vehicles, status updates on road construction, events currently taking place, and other information. This enables administrators to accurately predict traffic jams, for instance, and plan corresponding measures in response. It’s also possible to detect high levels of particulate matter early on and address them by rerouting traffic flows.
With the help of the SAP HANA platform and IoT technologies, we can even integrate a city’s traffic-related information with logistics data from companies. This opens the door to numerous improvements, such as in logistics both within the city’s limits and beyond. Companies can then combine these optimizations with intelligent traffic planning to make sure their fleets always run on time.
Shaping the city of the future – together
Projects as sophisticated as these are impossible to see through alone, of course. That’s why SAP has joined a network of partners that provide drivers and carriers with services both within and in connection with their vehicles. Users can thus locate parking spaces available nearby in real time and pay for them directly using their vehicle’s onboard system or their smartphone of choice. With 30% of inner-city traffic attributable to drivers looking for parking, this can have a significant effect on traffic flows. In-car solutions like this also make it easy to pay for the electricity a vehicle draws from one of the aforementioned charging stations.
It’s all connected
While this notion isn’t exactly new, the age of digitalization is lending it a whole new dimension. Smart energy, smart traffic, smart logistics, Industry 4.0 – all of these are essentially networking models that can no longer be observed on their own. We’ve already realized parts of these scenarios in cooperation with various partners, and others are currently in the project stage. Together, we have the unique chance to unite a wide range of skills and technologies and play a key role in shaping the city of the future.