Safety first: How open IoT platforms protect your people, regardless of the risk

What do you think of when you think of public safety? Most of the time, we tend to think of crime, but that’s just one part of the equation. Earthquakes, gas line ruptures, and so on can also put lives at risk.

While the threats may be different, there’s one tool that can help better protect and serve your residents regardless of the risk: open IoT platforms. Itron, a Council Global Lead Partner, explains how and why below. — Kevin Ebi

By Itai Dadon, Itron

The term “smart city” has generated significant excitement amongst technology innovators and early adopters alike. As cities and utilities strive to unlock efficiencies and enhance quality of life, the benefits to city and community residents are often obscured. Yet, when it comes to tangible benefits for residents, citizens have very clear expectations: public safety is the number one benefit that consumers demand.

Balancing business needs and consumer expectations does not have to be a trade-off. By investing in a platform that can serve multiple applications, cities and utilities can improve business operations while creating safer, better connected and more resourceful communities.

The key to unlocking long-term value is to choose an open platform that ensures multi-vendor interoperability.

Smart grid and smart city initiatives were the initial catalyst for the widespread adoption of industrial IoT solutions. Today, many forward-thinking cities and utilities around the world have already deployed open standards-based communication networks as a foundational technology of these long-term modernization efforts.

IoT platforms are already enabling solutions that improve public safety in a number of critical areas. For example, utilities are analyzing real-time smart meter data to mitigate the risk of meter fires and deploying battery-powered methane sensors to identify gas leaks. LED street lighting is reducing criminal activity and improving visibility on the roadways. And finally, acoustic sensors can detect gunshots and pinpoint the exact location, direction and type of gunfire. While their operational needs and consumer demands may evolve over time, an open platform enables critical infrastructure providers to take a modular approach to delivering new use cases.

In the long-run, the most interesting use cases will emerge when you begin to combine the monitoring and control capabilities of these smart devices and sensors to enable compound use cases. Imagine seismic sensors that can alert utilities to earthquakes and automatically shutoff gas distribution networks in affected areas; or acoustic sensors that can detect gunshots and alert emergency response by blinking nearby streetlights. The possibilities are endless.

At Itron, we believe that widely-adopted industry standards such as Wi-SUN will foster an open ecosystem of interoperable solutions. Our partners are already leveraging our multi-purpose platform to unlock the use cases of the future. Utilities and cities are demanding innovative solutions and we are here to help. What will come next?

Itai Dadon is senior director of IoT Product Management at Itron.