Think about what connectivity meant to you in the 1990s, the turn of the millennium, and what it means today.
We re- and re-define connectivity and what it means in everyday life; hinting on major technological advancements in a very short span of time. Not surprisingly transport is one of the pioneering domains.
It’s easy to get used to these changes as they – mostly – make our lives easier. In many European cities it is now part of everyday life to have digitalized minute precise information of when your bus is due to arrive. A decade ago we were lucky if every stop had a legible printed paper with the scheduled timings available.
The Internet of Moving Things sounds quite grand (and it is) but can be explained very simply. A moving thing is anything that moves: anything you wear or carry around: clothes, a phone, tablet, fit bit; or use to get in motion: a car, a bike or a rollerblade. All of these can now be fitted with motion sensors connecting them to a centre and enabling interaction among themselves. A common example is last night’s dinner delivery. On many websites you can now track your meal from kitchen to doorstep every minute, enabled by data provided motion sensors. Zoom out and take a look at the moving street scene today: pedestrians, cyclists, cars and trams all in constant motion can now be mapped out with precision on a digital canvas.
All of these connections, interaction, reactivity need to derive from real-time data. Data from the vehicle, from the road sensors, from the road users, from the infrastructure. These need to be stored, analysed, converted to information and circulated. We are talking about petabytes of data especially if such heavy data are involved that video sensors provide. Adding to the complexity they are in constant motion creating obstacles in precision, noise, accuracy and value. Big data technologies were created to deal with both the burden and exploit the potential.
Head to Porto or overseas
There are countless reasons to pay a visit to the beautiful city of Porto. If you’re a tech fan, IoMT may be one of them. A Portuguese based start-up tech company, Veniam has now connected bus fleets, taxis and garbage trucks not only to the Internet but also to each other resulting in over 600 connected vehicles on the road today. Their most recent addition was adding their hardware to ports, where cranes and cargo are now talking to each other in real-time. The company is now eyeing its next candidate city: Singapore, no further reasoning needed I suppose.
It comes step by step, to me such level of connectivity means a much more efficient transport system, decreased commuter times, more eco-friendly cities and acting as an enabler helping us to make more informed decisions. As Robin Chase, co-founder of Veniam told greenbiz “… one of the things I wanted to work on so that we could actually charge people the right price when they drive down the street. That sounds very putative, but I mean it in an informational way. Some people need to be on the road at 6:00 p.m. on a weekday, but a whole bunch of us just decide to go to the mall at that time and we don’t care.“
Meanwhile in the US, Urban Engines founded by ex-Google engineers is using data obtained from IoMT to design their solution for commuters, city planners or delivery companies alike. Their products take a look at the living, breathing and moving city, and analyse how mobility happens in real-time. All this information obtained from connected vehicles, goods and commuters bustling around the city day and night.
Building the base for self-driving cars
Apart from the convenience and eco-friendly factor, many of these technologies serve to become the base of what many believe is the future of mobility: automation. It’s clear; if we want our car to drive itself around safely it needs to sense everything we humans would and more. The car ahead, the traffic light, the pram at the crossing, the bicycle in the rear. Establishing connectivity and interactivity on the road is clearly key in enabling a future when vehicles will drive themselves around.
IoMT is relatively new, and as it is with novelties means something slightly different to all of us. We can be definite about one thing though: connectivity in terms of mobility will mean something drastically different in the years to come and that is a good thing.
Header photo credit: tokyoform/Flickr