More than seeing smart home as feeders of information for planners of city services, we should consider the accumulation of smart city data as a way to enhance personalised services for residents.
BACpress : The internet is full of re-hashed blogs and articles about how the smart home and the smart city complement one another. Nearly all the scenarios that you will find go something like this: tens or hundreds of thousands, even millions, of smart homes produce zettabytes of data about the individuals dwelling within them. Massive volumes of data concerning consumption (such as electricity and water) and infrastructure use (such as roads or public transportation), and much more, are constantly streamed from the multitude of smart homes to some sort of smart-city data store where the “big data” is crunched with artificial intelligence and big-data analytics, along with other advanced technologies, to reveal interesting patterns that can guide city planners for the good of the public.
But we might be overlooking a greater power of the smart home-smart city relationship. Instead of the smart home feeding data to the city for public benefit, how about looking at it the other way around: the smart city using the big data to enable individualised services for residents of smart homes. With the digital lifestyle progressing at full stride, we shouldn’t be more than a few apps away from a municipal environment that realises a symbiosis where individual citizens are able to set up their smart homes so as to make individual choices that enhance their lifestyles based on rich smart-city data.
Here are a few use cases that are tantalisingly close to realisation:
Thanks to the rapid accumulation of real-time safety data, the police notice a sudden outbreak of home burglaries in a certain precinct. Wise smart-home users across the city have subscribed to a safety service whereby the police can issue an alert that not only notifies citizens in that precinct of the heightened danger, but that also instructs the surveillance and anti-burglary capabilities that surround the home to “batten down the hatches”, to make sure that smart window and door locks are engaged and watchful cameras are operating. Garage doors that were left open for convenience are automatically closed. Porch lights come on at night.
Inside the smart home, individual citizens decide what services they want to engage when a safety alert comes in. The smart city furnishes the alert and each smart home takes its own appropriate action.
Ask not what your smart home can do for your smart city …
Citizen Sam lives alone. As an environmentally concerned homeowner, even in the middle of winter he turns off the heat when he is away. As soon as he arrives home, Sam rushes to the thermostat to start up the central heating, which takes about 15 minutes to make his man-cave comfortable. If Sam’s schedule were regular and predictable, he could employ a simple timer to start up the heating unit 15 minutes before he gets home. However, his job often causes him to be delayed, rendering the timer useless – either it goes on too early, wasting energy, or too late, forcing Sam to engage the thermostat manually only after he arrives home.
But with a smart city notice, when Sam’s car comes within 15 minutes of his house, taking into consideration current traffic patterns, it can notify his smart hub at home when he is soon to arrive, via the app Sam has set up. Receiving the notification, the smart hub will start up the heat, ensuring Sam a warm welcome upon arrival.
Information sharing is a two-way street. Yes, each smart home and business will participate in feeding the smart city with important real-time data. But the reverse will be true as well.
Sally Jones wants to meet her friends at a bar-restaurant – that evening it’s hosting live country music, offers a menu she likes and isn’t too busy. With every bar and restaurant in town streaming its current environmental conditions, along with its menu and preferred music for the evening’s listening pleasure, to a smart city service, the solutions are there for the taking. Sally merely asks her smart assistant, “Find me a bar that I will like,” and obtains a list of the best candidates to host her evening with her friends.
Bringing it home
While most industry thinkers are contemplating how to collect massive volumes of data from individual smart homes to feed the needs of the smart city, we might reap many more benefits if we ask what the smart city can do for the smart home.