How an IoT platform can unlock smart cities (12 winning ideas)

At the Council, we often look at smart street lights as a great first smart cities project. From energy efficiency to manageability, they deliver visible, quick-wins. And they’re also a platform for growth, a vehicle for collecting and communicating data.

The possibilities of what you can do with that platform are limitless, as you’ll read below. Several of our Global Lead Partners — Current, powered by GE and AT&T — and Associate Partner Intel have run a series of hackathons to unleash the creativity of the tech community.

One winning project improves mobility for the disabled by using sensors to track the arrival of their ride. Another gives mobility planners better data by being able to track pedestrians. Several offered solutions to help alleviate parking hassles by helping drivers find a spot quicker.

It’s worth scanning the list of winning projects to see if your pain points are illustrated. The solution may begin with smart street lights. — Kevin Ebi

By Current, powered by GE

To build thriving cities, city leaders are partnering up with technology providers to turn their ubiquitous lighting footprint into digital infrastructure. By imbedding a plethora of sensors into a single intelligent node that is installed on any city streetlight pole can transform their lighting infrastructure into an all-knowing, data intelligence network.

At the heart of the IoT platform, intelligent cities API’s make the vast amount of sensor data actionable through the cloud.  These open, yet highly secured, API’s deliver real-time intelligence to cities allowing them to enhance their open data policies and begin civic engagement models.

Engagement that connects citizens, the local developer community, entrepreneurs, start-ups, universities, and companies with niche expertise globally to transform that data into applications that drive new city services, optimize operations and improve citizens’ quality of life. 

Just imagine, no longer will city leaders have to solve every problem on their own with limited resources, they soon will be able to enlist the greater community to help them solve their toughest issues, create new revenue streams, drive economic development and make the city a better place to live, work and play.  

To jumpstart the app development, Current, powered by GE offered its CityIQ™ real-time ubiquitous sensor data in a sand box environment to the global developer communities to spark innovation for smart cities applications and demonstrate endless possibilities.  More than 60 apps were developed by ecosystem partners, students and developers from 13 hackathons.  They solved various challenges in transportation, public safety, urban development, infrastructure, environment, and more.

In June 2017, Cleantech San Diego, CyberTECH, City of San Diego, Current by GE, AT&T and Intel hosted a Smart Cities San Diego Hackathon as part of San Diego Startup Week to enlist the local developer community solving problems with traffic, parking, public safety, urban planning and environmental challenges.  More than 60 engineers, programmers, designers, entrepreneurs and students making up 15 teams participated in the 17-hour, overnight hackathon and competed for $3,500 in prize money.

The winning teams were: 1st) DreamBiz: developed an app to help business owners find the ideal location for their store front; 2nd) See Things: developed an app to help report possible drunk drivers; and 3rd) ParkA: developed a parking optimization app. 

In month of October, local universities and entrepreneurs unleashed more innovative apps using CityIQ data in SDHacks and AT&T Hack-o-ween. 

The winning teams from SDHacks were: 1st) Colored Bars and Toy Cars: showcased the data visualization, network communication via texting framework technology; 2nd) Where is Everyone?: developed an iOS app for monitoring and predicting pedestrian traffic.

The winning teams from AT&T Hack-o-ween were: 1st) M.O.I.S.T: developed an app to control the lawn watering system with intelligence; 2nd) Parkey: developed an app to show nearest parking with reminders for tickets and parking spot memory; 3rd) CityIQ Companion App: developed an in-car parking service app.

More smart city hackathons in San Diego are planned for 2018 with a goal of 100+ apps in total being developed from the local community to boost up the app economy while solving city challenges. 

In September 2017, a collaboration between AT&T, Current by GE and Georgia Power transformed Atlanta’s existing street lighting infrastructure into a CityIQ-enabled data network.  The Atlanta Civic Coding Competition (C3) showcased the potential of leveraging open-sourced data to solve city challenges.  The top two winning teams used CityIQ sensor data to improve mobility for disabilities and make way for emergency vehicles. 

The 1st place team, Paratransit Pal, developed a mobile-friendly web app to improve access to accurate paratransit arrival times for disabled people.  The 2nd place team, EVA, developed an app that provides timely and specific notifications to drivers and vehicles to make way for emergency vehicles. 

Followed by HackGT and HackGSU later in the year, Atlanta further unleashed the innovation from the local universities to drive the desired outcomes with real-time street-level sensor data.  The winning teams from HackGT were: 1st) StreetSmart Cities: developed the ultimate smart city platform through the use of chatbot services, big data, IoT, and collaboration; 2nd) Synesthesia: developed a web app that visualizes a heat map for CityIQ pedestrian and vehicle count data. The grand-prize winning team from HackGSU, WhereTheHackDoIPark, developed a mobile app to simply the parking and payment process.

Many other hackathons took place around the globe to solve different urban challenges by utilizing the CityIQ data.  Visit Current’s Innovative Apps Center to explore the possibilities of use cases and app innovation.  Smart cities are well on the way to be the next beneficiary of the app economy.