City sensors: the internet of things is taking over our cities

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The internet of things is taking over our cities. Here are five examples of how its shaping the urban environment:

Express parking
Los Angeles introduced a smart parking system, LA Express PARK, last May. Wireless sensors embedded in parking spots detect if they’re available and let drivers know via a smartphone app or digital sign. It is also able to measure demand, so prices can be adjusted accordingly.

Gunfire locator
ShotSpotter systems implemented in cities including Washington DC use acoustic sensors to detect and locate gunfire, so police officers can respond more effectively. The sensors narrow down the location of the gunshots by combining when each picked up the sound.

Smart grid
Intelligent systems in the electrical grid have been tested in cities in Italy, Canada and the US. Smart meters monitor consumption in real time, so households and providers can track energy use more accurately, and reduce bills or create structured pricing plans.

Pothole reporter
The Street Bump app was developed by the mayor’s office in Boston to help drivers alert authorities to potholes. The free app uses the accelerometer and GPS in a smartphone to detect bumps in the road. The data is aggregated to highlight streets in need of repair.

Air-pollution sensor
In 2011, A network of air-quality sensors was installed in Salamanca, Spain, as part of an EU-funded project to create sustainable traffic management systems. The data is used to measure how traffic regulation can affect pollution levels.