Big data, the internet of things, and…parking?
January 19, 2012
Big Data and the internet of things – We’ve been hearing (and talking) lots about both of these subjects recently, so I wanted to take a look at how they will actually impact our lives.
The digitalisation of products is a trend that is likely to gain momentum over the coming year as everything from washing machines to our cars come online and can communicate with us. And this isn’t a future pipedream; at CES in the Las Vegas last week, Samsung revealed a washing machine that is Wi-Fi enabled, just one of many new digital-enabled products we will see emerge over the coming year.
Big Data has come to the fore as our data collecting capabilities have increased exponentially since the dawn of the internet. Collecting, recording and sharing data has become easier and more affordable than ever before, resulting in incredibly rich data now existing on a hugely diverse range of subjects; millions of bits of data everyday are being recorded on everything from the weather to healthcare. All this data collecting is great, but it does beg the question, why are we collecting it?
The answer in short is that we don’t necessarily know…yet. The challenge of Big Data is how you use the data – how do you understand what it is telling you, what you can learn from it and what can you do better or differently as a result. With such a broad brief, knowing which data is or isn’t important is not necessarily immediately obvious. Humans will therefore have to rely on powerful models to try and make sense of all of this data to provide us with learnings and understanding that are actionable.
These two trends are interesting in themselves, but it is when you look at a practical example of how these two trends will impact on our lives that we see the real value. And where to look for such an example? Look no further than the glamorous world of parking!
As populations in cities continues to grow, the challenge increases as to how to manage an increasingly burdened infrastructure. Streetline is a Company in San Francisco that is aiming to use data that it acquires from around cities to help manage complexity, increase efficiency and ultimately to help us live better quality lives. Streetline have started by focusing on parking.
Parking sensors are installed in parking bays around a city and connect to the network via repeaters housed within street furniture (lamposts, telephone poles, etc). This network relays information on whether a parking spot is being used to the network. Anyone looking for parking can then use a mobile app to see where and how many spaces are available in real time, as well as allow users to book certain car park spaces in advance of their arrival. Eventually this technology will integrate into sat nav, allowing directions not just to a location, but to the nearest free car parking bay to their destination.
Whilst great for the user, the data being collected on parking habits in cities can also be used to make better informed decisions on traffic management systems moving forward. And parking is just the tip of the iceberg, in the future Smart Cities will be able to track pollution levels, power usage, traffic patterns, and more. Streetline is a great example of how the digitalisation of things and big data will work hand in hand in the future to deliver tangible results.