Getting a Sense of the Sensor City

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Dublin is set to become the test bed for what’s being called an Internet of Things, in collaboration with Intel Labs Europe. An announcement in early April by Intel and Dublin City Council marked the next stage in the much-mooted Smart City initiative.

The scheme will involve the installation of sensor gateways across the city, based on Intel’s Quark and Atom processors. The purpose of the gateways is to monitor environmental data, such as pollution and volume of use, to provide real time information on what is happening where.

One of the eventual aims is the development of apps for smartphone and tablet devices that will allow the public to keep track of information such as traffic flows.

This is the latest and most concrete development in the Digital Masterplan for the city. In June 2013, then Lord Mayor of Dublin Naoise Ó Muirí went on the record in a video address as saying he regarded the “digital agenda for Dublin” as being a huge priority for his term of office. One possibly surprising announcement at the time was that Dublin would become the digital twin with Guadalajara, Mexico, that country’s first Digital City.

The core virtue of a smart city is resource management. The relationship between city planning and management, the existing infrastructure and the human use of the infrastructure can be more closely monitored and supplemented with existing services, such as Dublin City Council’s traffic data and real-time estimates on the availability of parking.

The Gateway sensors will be part of Intel’s ongoing research into the applications of such technology, and it is hoped they will contribute problem-solving data to city planning concerns such as the deployment of better cycle lanes, and incidental problems associated with areas of heavy traffic flow, like air and noise pollution.

The Intel Gateway sensors themselves were given their official launch in Beijing, two days after the announcement of the Dublin plan. The collaboration with Dublin City can be seen as a coup for Intel, who are competing with both IBM and General Electric for the imminent Smart Cities technology market.

There has been no confirmation as yet on where in the city the gateway sensors will be deployed.

By Rúairí Conneely