The other day, I noticed that the city had shut down 2 out of 3 lanes (in each direction) of a major artery and were paving the roads. With the reduction in traffic caused by the virus, traffic flowed just about at the same speed as usual. It was great to see streets paved in times of low traffic.

What are some of the IoT-related initiatives that it may make sense for a government to do while things are a bit quieter (or even closed)?

 

Smart recreational facilities

Most community pools, gyms and arenas are closed at this time. Many sensor-based solutions could be installed to reduce operational costs, lower energy use and to improve security. Sensors could be placed in pools to streamline heating and chlorine use; automatic lighting systems could be installed to prevent expensive floodlights from working when no one is there. Automated sprinkler systems could be installed in fields and on golf courses to avoid overwatering from occurring, and, smart street lights could be connected to reduce crime and more efficiently light up neighbourhoods.

 

Smart parking and traffic solutions

This one makes a ton of sense as you could take away 90% of the meters in most areas, and no one would notice now. Upgrading to smart parking meters is an investment for the city, but they do have a high return on investment. They are often linked with smartphone apps that allow people to reserve spots in advance and “feed the meter” from anywhere. It also does not have to be a city-owned lot, as this investment makes sense for most private parking facilities.
Traffic solutions involve things like improving the monitoring of traffic through sensors and cameras. They can notify people of an accident and even recommend a better route—kind of like “Waze,” except for everyone.

 

Infrastructure monitoring

Whenever I hear it, one shocking stat that floors me is how tens of thousands of bridges in North America are in use decades after their intended “lifespan.” Unfortunately, we cannot just replace them all tomorrow, so we need to do a better job monitoring which ones may be in danger. The same is true for many other parts of the city, such as sewer and water pipes.

IoT uses various sensors (ranging from water to harmonics) to determine which are the most likely issues, which better directs your teams to fix the problems before they become major.

 

Transit

The last one may be the only one that can increase revenue for a government. The number of passengers on board trains and buses has plummeted to unheard-of low numbers. It will require more than just an uptick in the economy to get people back on the bus.

IoT solutions can first help by keeping people safe. They may include automatic passenger counters (to ensure that there is less overcrowding) as well as temperature monitors to alert to a possibly ill patient.
Beyond that, though, we may need to find ways to both entice people and to raise more revenue for failing transit agencies. On-board Wi-Fi service may be a way to get people on-board, as well as better alerts when the next bus arrives. From a revenue standpoint, smart GPS-based advertising on buses may help to offset some of the declines in ridership.
Like the road paving, now is the time to spend on upgrading your city. While I can understand that money is tight, a small investment now will pay off huge dividends down the road.