The IoT makes our cities cleaner

Published by Telefónica IoT Team IoT General, Smart Cities

The cities of the future promise to become smarter, as well as more populous. The challenges of the future include better managing the trash and pollution that we generate in our day-to-day lives. Luckily for us, the Internet of Things is here to help us deal with the condition of cities. Thanks to the IoT, we can make sure that our environment is as clean as we expect it to be.

Clean Air, Everywhere

City air is susceptible to being filled by pollution quickly. The presence of aerosols, particles and undesirable gases are an everyday fact. This is to be expected since more and more human beings are sharing the same space. Our daily lives generate waste that inevitably ends up in the air, which can cause serious health problems. For this reason, it is imperative to take measures as soon as a city’s air is considered to be exposed to pollution. So how can we monitor air quality? Projects like Libelium and Telefónica solution offer features that allow us to monitor air quality in real time. They also allow measures to be implemented with other systems that help control air pollution and the impact it has on the inhabitants of Smart Cities.

What kind of pollution are we talking about? Libelium sensors, for example, can monitor the presence of toxic gases, aerosols capable of accumulating in our lungs, and excess CO2. There are also detectors of the smoke and gas associated with combustion. Using them makes it possible to monitor 24/7 so that, for example, measures can be applied to divert traffic in an overly congested area, or public transport can be regulated in real time, and even fires can be detected early to alert the emergency services. But, generally speaking, the IoT sensors connected to Smart Cities will allow the appropriate measures to maintain the healthy air quality to be taken.

Managing a city’s cleanliness

But when we talk about a healthy city we are not just discussing air and pollution. There are other factors as important as air quality to ensure a healthy life. They include noise pollution, for example. The legal levels of this type of pollution are unintentionally exceeded due to the increasing number of people who travel on city roads. Controlling noise pollution is also important for the health and well-being of both the people and animals that inhabit a city.

In addition to noise, the IoT also helps manage solid waste. Several projects already underway that have shown that the application of smart objects to garbage collection, for example, can help reduce costs and maximize the use of garbage collection resources. In Singapore, people stroll around containers and trash cans that silently warn of their status. This allows waste to be managed much more efficiently while reducing operational costs by 80%, according to city sources. And more importantly, the IoT applied to garbage collection allows one of the busiest cities in the world to stay cleaner.

From the outside in

But the effect of IoT applications can go even deeper in the cleaning of a Smart City, such as inside facilities. Although the traditional method uses tables and cleaning shifts, for example, they are not as efficient as they seem, and that's where the IoT can come in handy. In what has begun to be called the "Internet of Cleaning", the array of possible smart objects now includes an army of trolleys, beacons and personnel detectors which can help directly monitor a facility’s equipment and cleaning resources. Thus, maintenance management is performed automatically according to real-time needs, taking full advantage of the resources available.

If we add this to the increasing automation of cleaning robots, we can foresee automatic maintenance that would significantly reduce operational costs while ensuring maximum efficiency. And all of this is thanks to the IoT. And as if it were not enough, the Internet of Things also allows us to control inventory or even monitor the equipment status, making it much easier to maintain and repair it so services should never be lacking at a time of need for unforeseen reasons. In short, the IoT promises even more smart objects and applications in a Smart City, which translates into a healthier, cleaner and better life.


Telefónica IoT Team