Internet of Things is taking infrastructure by storm.
Today, our ports, railroads and airports are spending millions of dollars on smart, Internet-connected devices that collect and crunch data from multiple sources to keep tabs on equipment wear and tear, saving on unplanned downtime and associated costs.
In fact, many cities are leveraging IOT devices as part of their smart initiatives to combat the strain of city growth, from traffic control to environmental issues.
Not surprisingly, big companies plan to double their spending on IOT over the next four years to an annual total of $520 billion, according to a new report by consultants Bain & Co. This is up from its earlier estimate of $450 billion for 2020 in a previous survey in 2016.
Here are 5 top infrastructure projects leveraging IOT solutions.
Florida’s Brightline is running at high-speed.
It launched introductory service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in mid-January. The high-speed train extended to Miami in mid-May, and the company launched hourly service between the three destinations in August. Brightline expects to start construction to Orlando soon, which will take approximately 30 months.
To stay on track, it has inked a 30-year maintenance contract with Siemens.
“We work closely with Brightline to make sure we have the trains ready, every day, up to the high standards so passengers have a ‘resort-like’ experience,” said Chris Maynard, Siemens’ head of Customer Service in the US.
“All our trains are connected, so we know their status in real-time – say, if the temperature is comfortable for passengers or too hot or too cold, to if the trains are running on time to whether an equipment failure is coming about so we can keep the spare part ready in the service depot.”
Charged with maintaining Brightline’s 30 odd assets, from locomotives to coaches, Siemens is utilizing its Internet of Things (IOT) platform to help Brightline manage operations.
From monitoring interiors of the train cars, say, faulty reading light to non-working USB port, to ensuring the trains run on time, the solution collects data from each device, analyzes and then generates automated alerts – if needed – to ensure timely repair.
“We can help our customers react proactively before anything breaks down, figure out what needs to be replaced and repaired,” Maynard said. “Since the systems are integrated, if the train has a fault, it will generate an automated work order. So, we are prepared with spare parts when the train arrives at our West Palm Beach shop for service, and we can turn around the train in a timely manner.”
Port of Long Beach
America’s busiest port complex is ripe for digitization.
Over the next two months, the Port of Long Beach – adjacent to the Port of Los Angeles – will use GE Transportation’s “Port Optimizer.”
The software platform will enable real-time information sharing among terminal operators, logistics companies and customers so cargo can move quickly through the port and onto distribution centers.
For example, with Port Optimizer, port operators, cargo handlers and truckers can receive advance notice of cargo arrival so that can be coordinated with equipment, labor and other resources needed to move the cargo through the supply chain.
“We are always searching for new means toward improving operational efficiencies in the supply chain as it moves through this port complex,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “We look forward to observing Port Optimizer in action.” [Insert headshot of Cordero]
Today, operators including trucking companies and distribution centers often don’t know precisely where their shipments are in the middle of complex freight systems or exactly when they will arrive at a terminal, leading to supply chain inefficiencies.
To address those shortcomings, the Port Optimizer brings together data from shipping companies, port terminal operators, freight railroads and other supply chain players into a single portal, making the information available two weeks before a cargo ship arrives.
While Port Optimizer is not an IOT solution in the pure definition of the term, the concept is similar in that it’s a data-sharing collaboration platform that ingests data from multiple stakeholders in any shape or form provided and transforms that data into actionable information.
Three of the Port’s six container terminals are involved – Long Beach Container Terminal, Total Terminals International and International Transportation Service. The solution debuted at the Port of Los Angeles last year.
“Moving goods more efficiently through this important gateway is the key to accommodating future cargo growth,” said former Long Beach Harbor Commission President Lou Anne Bynum.
“The data collected during this pilot at some of our busiest terminals could help to accomplish this, and we look forward to seeing the results.”
If you ride Atlanta’s MARTA, you will be happy to know its tunnels are well ventilated.
Started as a combined bus and rail service in 1979, it’s the nation’s 9th largest transit today carrying 500,000 passengers daily.
About two years ago, MARTA – Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority – launched a pilot project to improve the reliability of ‘life safety’ systems that provide smoke ventilation to its tunnels – a critical, closely regulated issue.
In partnership with IBM, MARTA implemented a predictive maintenance solution that could access and analyze data from multiple sources. By employing various techniques such as data mining, modeling, machine learning and artificial intelligence, the software could figure out the condition of equipment such as ventilation fans, motors, etc.
“The pilot is complete at this time, and we have proof of concept that it does work,” said Remy Saintil, MARTA’s Director of Facilities.
For example, the solution can access system-wide databases such as Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), and even real-time weather to determine which pieces of equipment need service. Predictions from the model highlight which equipment pieces are likely to fail before their next servicing date, or vice versa.
“If a motor, say, didn’t have a SCADA alert on it, didn’t need any ad hoc service, then we know it doesn’t need to be serviced every six months,” Saintil said. “And that is a cost saving for us, since we don’t have to send a technician to service the equipment.”
This predictive maintenance solution could save MARTA an estimated 25% to 50% in labor days, and 18% to 40% in maintenance cost.
Portland’s Safe Streets
Three deadliest streets of Portland, Oregon, will be monitored closely, around-the-clock by 200 sensors. Mounted on street lights, these sensors will provide real time information on vehicles, pedestrians, vehicle speeds, etc.
With this new data, city officials hope to support Portland’s Vision Zero goal of making the streets safe for everyone.
Dubbed the Traffic Sensor Safety Project, the city recently announced that a consortium under the City IQ banner of AT&T, Intel, and Current by GE will work with Portland General Electric on this initiative.
“We are at the forefront of using advanced technology to make our cities safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, helping people more easily get around, save time and reduce the possibility of crashes,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said. “This pilot is a significant step in acquiring and utilizing data to make critical decisions.”
Michael Zeto, VP of AT&T IoT and General Manager of Smart Cities, said the devices combine cameras, microphones, and environmental sensors, which can identify pedestrians, cars, and cyclists, help pinpoint the location of gunshots, and sniff for pollutants.
With privacy a paramount concern, the City IQ devices will retain no video. In fact, they won’t even pass video over a network. Instead, Zeto said, they use onboard computer-vision software to identify objects and pass just that resulting analysis on.
The focus will be to help move towards Vision Zero goal, a global name for changes in traffic flow and management intended to reduce traffic impacts, accidents, and fatalities dramatically. The city hopes a deeply granular, automatic, continuous, and real-time stream of data will help it better understand what’s not working.
The City IQ open platform is designed to handle future growth using the exact street lighting infrastructure, so Portland can continue adapting and developing new applications that meet the specific needs of the city and its residents.
Cary’s smart water
If you live in Cary, NC, you’re used to smart water.
In 2010, this suburb of Raleigh installed an Aquastar wireless water meter system for 60,000 customers. Tools from analytics provider SAS power the system.
The setup provides hourly readings and is on track to save $10 million above the cost of the project. The unit’s analytics component enables the early discovery of water leaks for further cost savings. The system’s accurate water usage data ensures the town will spend the right amount on future infrastructure needs.
“The meters at houses collect real time, or near real time, water use and the system gets a reading every hour, and then sends back those readings four times a day so citizens can see, track and understand their water consumption on a web portal,” says Jennifer Robinson, a Cary town council member. She also serves as SAS’ Director of Local Government Solutions.
Besides helping residents discover water leaks, the unit’s analytics can help the town in its conservation efforts, Robinson tells Icons of Infrastructure.
The town also uses water billing data to evaluate the impacts from emergency repairs and main breaks.
“By using water billing data from our automated meter infrastructure system, we can determine alternatives to sustain water service through secondary feeds while a pipeline is out of service for repairs,” said Jamie Revels, P.E., Cary’s Utilities Director.
Cary officials also track water billing data by sewer basin, which allows a high degree of analytics to track impacts attributable to inflow and infiltration in the sewer basin.
The town is looking to leverage more IOT solutions in its efforts to offer efficient urban services. Its FY 2018 capital budget totals $68.6 million and has funds to support over 100 utility and general infrastructure projects.