Imagine a world where all of the little things in our lives are interconnected, working seamlessly in the background to make the world more efficient. This is one of the most exciting prospects in the telecom industry: the world of possibilities that can come from connecting everyday items we often overlook, such as trash cans or parking spots. There are specific applications of IoT that have the opportunity to solve inconveniences most people often overlook that promise to have the greatest potential effect on society.
Narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) is designed to enhance the global deployment of low-power wide area (LPWA) networks. What separates NB-IoT networks from traditional IoT environments is that it requires minimal power while still being able to span significant distances. This makes it possible to drive connectivity to a new class of devices that people may not necessarily think of when envisioning the future of IoT. For example, NB-IoT has the ability to greatly impact the functionality of many things we encounter everyday like water meters, smoke alarms or even parking spots.
NB-IoT: Where impact can be realized
Let’s take a look at water gauges. They’re a vital part of our everyday life — ensuring that each community receives enough water and that the water is treated properly. They can also be used in dams to monitor electricity generation from the water. If you plan to connect this device, it must remain operational at all times. However, oftentimes water gauges are located in hard to reach places where connectivity is poor. A water gauge on an electrical dam in a river can’t be expected to only work when there’s mobile service. It also shouldn’t require high-power connectivity that would require constantly replacing batteries.
NB-IoT can provide long-range mobile connections with low power consumption. This means that a utility company can install connected flow meters around a water distribution network to automatically detect leaks or track other critical data without worrying about spotty mobile connectivity or battery life.
The value of NB-IoT goes beyond just water gauges as real impact can be realized in use cases like connected parking spots and trash cans. These may seem like mundane things, but when connected through IoT, they can radically change urban living. In fact, ITS America estimates that nearly 30% of urban congestion is created by drivers cruising for parking. As a result, local authorities worldwide are seeking connected parking solutions to help reduce traffic congestion by informing drivers of open parking spaces. However, cities still need to keep an eye on the bottom line when adopting new technology. This is where NB-IoT can really make a difference, providing a low-cost solution that provides the battery life and the connectivity to make these advancements possible.
Similarly, connected trash cans represent a low-cost improvement with substantial benefits. Smart trash cans equipped with long battery lives can notify city workers when they are full. This allows trash pick-ups to be scheduled as needed, and reduces the time garbage trucks spend circling city blocks collecting garbage.
These are just a few examples that illustrate how NB-IoT has the opportunity to be the future of IoT. Its potential to connect the devices that, while often hidden from the average person, form the basis of today’s infrastructure, can have a profound impact on our lives.
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