Imagine driving through your town on a clear December night. As you turn the corner onto Main Street, you’re greeted with what feels like an endless parade of shimmering holiday decorations. All hung from streetlights, illuminating your path as you progress toward your destination. Sound like a fantasy? It could be a reality thanks to the technology that creates a “smart city”.
A smart city is an urban area or municipality that uses IoT sensors to collect data. Those sensors analyze the findings and use that data to inform decisions around resources and services. The goal behind any smart city is to improve processes in a way that makes them better. More efficient, more cost-effective, and better for the environment. The ideal end result is lower inconvenience for residents and high-quality analytics for continuous improvements to the living space.
When it comes to projects that help propel smart cities forward, the level of innovation deployed is truly inspiring. Interestingly enough, these projects could directly impact field service companies, especially utilities. Here are some real-life examples of smart city projects that can make life easier for workers of utility companies. We’ll also explore what a field service management software like EnSight+ provides, within and outside of the smart city context.
Modernizing waste management is one of the most impactful smart city projects. It’s good for sustainability and improves the appearance of the places we call home. Municipalities in countries around the world have installed sensors on waste and recycling stations. They communicate in real-time when the bins full. Not only does this keep the area around the bins neat and tidy by avoiding overflow, but it saves time for the crews responsible for picking up trash.
Instead of doing a daily or weekly sweep of the cans, a waste management company can dispatch workers as needed using field service software tied to the alert system. The ability to seamlessly schedule and dispatch technicians for tasks is one of the strengths of these cloud-based solutions. When paired with smart technology, field service management software can bring a field service company’s efficiency to new levels.
There’s a tremendous return on investment for municipalities that install smart streetlights. Remember the holiday decorations we mentioned above? This is where those apply. Whether installed on an illuminated candy cane or your run-of-the-mill streetlight, smart sensors can detect when there is activity near them, automatically brightening to accommodate the crowds and dimming when no one is there. As of 2016, the city of Los Angeles was saving some $9 million annually in energy costs due to the installation of smart LED bulbs. It’s also thought that smart streetlights could reduce crime since motion triggers the lights to intensify in brightness.
Energy-efficient LED bulbs last significantly longer than incandescent bulbs that have historically been used for street lights. When a utility is ordering a product less frequently, it can be easy to let low quantities slip through the cracks. However, field service management software has an inventory management module designed to help eliminate that risk. The utility can even create an alarm to trigger a reorder on light bulbs when the quantity falls below a pre-established number.
Anyone who has ever used a parking garage, especially residents of major metropolitan cities, understands the frustration of circling for a spot and coming up empty. Smart-enabled garages are making the public-parking experience considerably easier for commuters. Smart parking garages are equipped with sensors to tell drivers how many spaces are left on each garage level. These same systems can also feed that data directly to a driver-facing smartphone app.
In this case, field service management can again help with inventory management as well as contract management, especially when those sensors are installed.
Perhaps the most beneficial smart city project that spans the utilities’ universe is the adoption of smart meters. These electronic devices record consumption and report back to the utility companies at regular intervals, usually on an hourly basis. In the old days, the collection of meter data occurred manually by human employees who would walk or drive from house to house. This approach occasionally resulted in unfortunate errors that lead to inaccurate billing practices. This caused contention between the utilities and customers. Smart meters are also valuable because they alert the utilities when a problem arises, reducing time to restore an outage.
Despite the merits of smart meters, installing these devices is a considerable undertaking for any utility. That’s why many have trusted field service management software and embedded work order management modules to streamline the process.
Those are just a select few examples of smart city projects transforming our communities, daily habits, and the way utilities operate. Utilities would be wise to turn to EnSight+ and our field service management software as they navigate the nuances of building a smart city. To learn more about what we can do for you, book a demo today.
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