Drones and sensors will make cities even smarter in 2018, says Chris Anderson, CTO, Taoglas

Drones and sensors will make cities even smarter in 2018, says Chris Anderson, CTO, Taoglas

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Cities will move into new areas of connectivity that make sense for specific applications

Just as digital transformation in a business means automating routine processes, and pushing tribal and institutional knowledge into expert systems, for the modern municipality, many of the same efficiencies can be harvested by adding communications to systems and processes that today are manual.

There are thousands of things that can benefit from this sort of connectivity, including garbage cans and dumpsters that call for pick-up when they’re full, street lights over express lanes that are only on when the express lane is open, automated tolling, automated meter reading, and digital transformation of service worker dispatch, briefing and situational awareness.

One advantage that a municipality has that many commercial businesses do not is a clearly defined location and a fixed area of operation. It’s clear that airborne drones can carry useful payloads such as visible light and infra-red cameras. Tethered drones can act as a portable watchtower or communications tower running from a vehicle. The same concept can be used on municipal structures to create additional capabilities for fire protection, law enforcement or city maintenance.

Beginning in 2018, we’ll see drones gain additional capabilities, especially in mission duration. As this happens, the ability for municipal services to send a free-flying drone out to check on something can dramatically increase responsiveness and quality of service, while at the same time lower the cost of providing those services.

Infrastructure safety and maintenance inspection for telephone poles, bridges, fresh and wastewater systems, and roads can all be enhanced by drone systems. In some cases, the drone fly-by can be autonomous and the images are reviewed by a professional who’s now able to deal with such inspections much faster than before.

In other cases, the drone is simply used in place of a gantry or scaffold system to get an up-close look at something faster and safer than doing it in person. They are, of course, only a first line of inspection; if they think they found something, further drone…

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