DBMaker - New Technology
New Technology

The Internet of Things and Smart City Development

Author/Tang Qixiang      [Issue Date: 2016/2/5]

The next application of the Internet of Things - Smart City - is in rapid development

Recent news about "smart cities," includes the White House's new 5 billion NT$ "smart city" strategy that includes 60 urban centers set to launch in 2016. Starting the "smart city" development plan with a considrable investment of more than $160 million (about 5 billion NT$) is just part of America's "smart city" strategy. The plan calls for cooperation of more than 20 American cities funded by the federal government.. Tthe UK is also making news with its announcement of a dedicated network for the "Internet of Things." In 2015, 10 UK cities were linked through the network. This new dedicated network for the "Internet of Things" was designed to handle future demand as millions pieces of public equipment connecting to the network as they become part of the Internet of things. Closer to home, Keelung City and Taichung City have signed "smart city" memorandums of cooperation with the technology giant Cisco. Taiwan has a chance to play a key role in the global supply chain of the "Internet of things" and industrial 4.0. Cisco will establish an innovation center in Keelung in addition to their R&D location and nine innovation centers located in Barcelona,Spain, Songdo, South Korea, and other locations around the globe. The Taichung "smart city BBS" published that taichung is committed to this "smart city" initiative and it's one of the top 16 cities selected for IBM's 2015 "smart city challenge" by "intelligent transport."

The So-called "Internet of Things"

Before talking about "smart cities," we must see to the development of the "Internet of things." The concept of the "Internet of things" originated from Bill Gates's 1995 book "The Road Ahead" and since then the term "Internet of things" was formally put forward by ITU in 2005. As wireless networks, hardware and sensing equipment gradually mature and are further miniaturized, the degree of implementation of the Internet of things increases and touches our lives even more. From the perspective of promoting economic development, the Internet of things is another wave for the information industry following earlier advancements like the computer, Internet and mobile communication; In the long run the"Internet of things" promises to become the engine of economic growth in the Post-Financial Crisis Era. We inferred this from the rising trend of Taiwan stocks related of the "Internet of things" and "Internet of cars."

The difference and connection between the "Internet of things" and the "Internet" is known very well to us and follows in two parts.

1. The "Internet of things" application system runs based on the core exchange structure of the "Internet" and uses RFID or wireless sensing networks as its access method.

2. The "Internet" gets data information through artificial methods such as Telnet, FTP, Web, and (P2P); while the "Internet of things" gets data information automatically through RFID and sensors and the transmitted content is primarialy RFID data information including item names, item codes, item manufacturers, and production time. As one of the applications of the "Internet of things," "Smart city" is a hardware network built on sensors and accesses the existing "Internet" through the wireless network or construct exclusive core network. Information processing is done by distributed fog computing or a centralized cloud computing center. In Taiwan, fiber coverage is over 95%, 4G is close to 100% and Wifi varies from city to city.

The application of the Internet of things in smart city

This is an ongoing phenomenon – moves toward "smart city" are increasing. Intelligent technologies, including high speed optical fiber network, Internet of things, SDN and NFV, have been adopted in many cities around the world, to improve their communities' livability, sustainability and efficiency. Public service projects bring positive impacts on people's life, including promoting art and culture, improving air quality, improving traffic, cracking down on crime and maintaining security, energy saving and efficient use of water and health, to name just some.

The equipment of the "Internet of things" is vital for smart city and includes security cameras, smart meters, intelligent traffic lights, weather sensors, carbon dioxide sensors, and more. All data are transmitted to the center for processing and analysis for purposes of easing traffic, ascertaining water leaks, improving parking conditions, improve air quality, and more. All data flows go through the service chain from being transmitted by optical fiber networks and flexibly deployed by SDN to load balancing supported by NFV.

The smart city strategy took off and suddenly appeared all over the United States. Behind these projects is a key player, US Ignite, which as a joint venture created by the National Science Foundation and OSTP (Office of Science & Technology Policy), brings together partners from industry, academia, and government to help create the next generation in revolutionary "Internet applications." Seen as naional priorities, there are six key points to ONF (Open Network Foundation) applications' development: education and labor, energy, health, public security, transportation, and advanced manufacturing industry. In the next five years, the partner ecosystem is expected to be tested in more than 200 communities and dozens of applications will be provided. Working together with other smart city locations, developers are taking advantage of high speed, low latency networks (mainly processing uncompressed video multiplex two-way flow), SDN and OpenFlow. SDN will improve the network routing and optimization control to match the application requirements of the entire network, and support the virtual network of distributed programmable resources.

One of many problems addressed by "smart city" is parking. For instance, Milton Keynes in the UK and giant British Telecom are cooperating with the United Kingdom Open University and other partners on "smart city" to promote the expansion of the city all while meeting the aims of consumption and carbon emissions. It is estimated that the city will need about 12,000 parking spaces and by 2020 that number increases by 50 pecent. One of the goals of their "smart city" project is to determine the free space and send the information to the roadside display and smartphone apps to guide the driver parking. As a result, existing parking facilities are fullly utilized reducing the need for new infrastructure. Moreover, fuel consumption and the carbon emissions associated with parking space hunting are reduced. This waste is estimated at 10.5 billion euros. The initial pilot was launched in the city's railway station to manage the short-term parking spaces: Sensors were installed at parking spaces to detect vehicle arrivals and departures and send this information wirelessly; solar-powered repeaters were installed on poles, and they summarize the data which is then sent to the BT hosted data center via the Internet; once processed and analyzed, the data is available in a public information dashboard of Milton Keynes council and also on Google map through web browsers showing the status of parking spaces with red (occupied) or green (empty). This pilot was a success: a suitable parking time limit could be set in the train station at the city council, which proved the feasibility of optimization of parking spaces all over the city.

Key technology of the development of the Internet of things

In order to create the "Internet of things" and "smart city" environments in which people, matters, time, places, and things can interconnect and communicate with each other, several key technologies must mature as they play important roles. These technologies are as follows.

1. The low-power miniaturized nano-embedded technology or the RFID (radio frequency identification) technology: record information about an object, provide access functions, continuous operation over a long period, receive network messages or compute data.

2. The wireless technology of WiFi-aware network and back-end data transmission: allows data transfers between sensors.

3. Smart Ramp technology: includes network connections, fog computing, data security.

4. The backhaul network and the backbone network.

5. Cloud center, management and automation, and application support platforms.

In terms of energy-saving and low power consumption, the products of "Internet of things" are more energy-efficient than ICs required by mobile phones. Power management and innovative energy-saving technology will be the focus of the semiconductor industry. Hao Gao, a researcher in Eindhoven University of Technology in Netherlands, created a temperature sensor with a cross section of just 2 square mm and a weight of 1.6 milligrams — the size of a grain of sand placed on a finger. This sensor can be charged via radio waves through a special router, making it possible to solve power supply problems for sensors operating in the Internet of things era; it's not that you are not allowed to change batteries, and it is so small that its battery cannot be replaced for it is about as big as a sesame seed. Such technology allows cooperation between the Internet and intelligent buildings takes an important step: electric power can be obtained through wireless signals without any batteries or wires. First, a sensor has a dedicated router which can transmit energy focused by electromagnetic waves to the sensor for charging. This sensor will sense the temperature and return data when power is sufficient; Second, it can operate in paints, plastics and concrete; Third, in addition to temperature, in the future these sensors that will sense other things will also be developed, such as actions, humidity or light and their prices will be less than one dollar.

1. Fog Computing

First presented in 2011, "Fog computing" is comprised of various functional calculators more dispersed or with weaker performance or the server embedded in the ramp, and it has already been adopted in factories, automobiles, electrical appliances, street lighting, and all matter of items in our daily lives. Fog computing extends the network computing center to the network's edge, has low latency and is location-aware, has wider geographical distribution, adapts mobility applications, and supports more edge nodes. For example, the application and deployment of "Internet of cars" requires extensive connection methods and interactions, such as car-to-car, car-to-access point (Wi-Fi, 3G, LTE, intelligent traffic lights, navigation satellite network, etc.), and access point-to-access point. Imagine if all traffic lights are under a unified calculation and direction of a cloud computing data center. Timing would no longer be prone to errors. Intelligent traffic lights are intended to automatically direct traffic according to vehicle flowrate, for example the avoidance of needing to wait at a red light when there are no cars needing to use the opposing green light

2. Cloud Computing

"Cloud computing" carries the industry's highest expectations, however, importing and exporting datais actually be more complex and difficult that people had thought. Due to the increase of the access equipment (especially mobile devices), in the transmission of data and acquisiton of information, bandwidth becomes stretched, it can effectively reduce network traffic and accordingly reduce the computational load of data centers that are deploying distributed fog computing and composing a data transmission belt between various equipment though all kinds of devices and techniques, intelligent routing for example. Fog computing can be calculated as a intermediate computing between M2M (machine-machine dialogue) network and cloud computing to deal with the large amounts of data generated by M2M networks. Pretreatment of the data enhances its value.


The Cisco System predicts that by 2022 the sum of the cost saved and the revenue obtained by the "Internet of things" will total 14.4 trillion dollars. In the research findings published in November, 2012, the General Electric Company also pointed out that intelligent industrial networks will promote efficiency and create great productivity, and by 2025 these developments will reverberate in almost every economic sector and have a tremendous impact on about half of the global economic system. In addition, observing each industry individually, it is better understood how many potential developments will contribute to productivity by establishing the first intelligent infrastructure or even building a complete great smart city.

Reference Material

1. Lightreading Website/Smart Cities: Power to the People
2. Lightreading Website/White House Funding Seeds Smart Cities
3. Lightreading Website/BT & Partners Plan IoT Network in UK City
4. TaiwanJobs/ Development Trend of Smart City and Intelligent Networking
5. iThome/Dutch scientist demonstrate charging ultra-small temperature sensor by radio waves
6. iThome report/Use of Internet of things in preventing disaters: National Research Institute demonstrates warning system against broken bridge, six hours ahead of time
7. iThome report / Cisco unveils IoT System, provides complete hardware and software for Internet of things applications
8. United Financial Website/Tsai Ing-wen to build smart city (November 20, 2015)
9. Baidu Encyclopedia : Fog Computing
10. China Times/Internet of things Intelligent ages to bring a free society (January 4, 2015)