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Smart City Solutions

21 June 2021
Smart Cities have the ability to recognise what’s going on in a number of unprecedented ways. They change the way we understand, manage and study cities.

What is a Smart City? | Clever Solutions to Urban Problems | Privacy Concerns | Making Cities Better Places to Live | About Retail Sensing and the IoT | Urban Sensing | Counting on Public Transport | Pollution Monitoring | Communications Technology

Download the Smart City Leaflet Download as pdf.

What is a Smart City?

A smart city installs sensors which can share information with the public, businesses, city managers and other smart systems. The city connects its sensors and services via the internet of things (IoT). The different sensor systems store their information in a common data warehouse, making the knowledge available to those who need it.

Clever Solutions to Urban Problems

  • Count pedestrians, vehicles, bicycles and passengers on public transport.
  • Monitor air pollution.
  • Identify and reduce traffic congestion.
  • Quantify the use of footpaths and cycle ways.
  • Let retail units discover vital analytics like sales conversion rate, average queuing time and the most popular area of store.
  • Assess the impact of development initiatives and use the data to inform future decisions

Privacy Concerns

Collecting all this data may raise concerns about people's privacy. Our big data systems don't identify any individuals. Indeed, although we use video analytics technology the system sees people as "moving blobs". There is no face-recognition nor do we access data from peoples' mobile phones. We know how many people went where and when, but not who they were.

Making Cities Better Places to Live

To effectively serve people it helps if the city authorities know how many people are going where and when. The flow of pedestrians affects the whole city environment. It is important to know not only the numbers of people but also how the numbers change over time.

An accurate people metering system provides feedback on changes in people’s behaviour within the city and allows the council to effectively manage the flow of people, vehicles and bicycles around the area. This is also known as smart mobility.

We will be installing our IoT-VT devices along Manchester's Oxford Road corridor to count joggers, bicycles and buses (Smart Mobility).

About Retail Sensing and the IoT Smart City Sensors

CCTV camera built into IoT smart city system for counting pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles.

Retail Sensing are a UK-based technology manufacturing company. Our head office is in Manchester.

Our Smart City devices use our own video analytics algorithm to detect pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles. They include data logging hardware and Internet-of-Things connectivity.

The ISO9001 quality approved system is implemented around the city and sends real time data to “Brokers”. The brokers process the data and make it available to all end users.

We're currently involved in smart city projects in California, Australia, Canada and the UK.

Urban Sensing

Counting Pedestrians

In the high streets and city centres, the Smart Counter (called IoT-VT) counts people. It provides both real-time and historical data for big data analytics. Business-people looking to open a new shop or restaurant could be given accurate figures for footfall past their proposed location to help them assess the potential for their new venture.

Counting pedestrians in the Smart City

The Smart Counters are attached to lampposts around the city. They can also be used inside public buildings and shopping centres

Counting Bicycles

Counting bicycles helps monitor and support the promotion of healthy travelling and gives a measure of how green or pollution-free areas are within a city centre.

Counting Vehicles

With smart counters cities can effectively manage the flow of traffic along the busiest routes across the city and monitor the days and times of the heaviest flow - Smart Traffic.

Counting cars on a busy road

Knowing exactly how much traffic is on which streets at any time opens opportunities for cities to also give the information directly to the public. Having this sort of information lets people avoid the busiest areas and help reduce any problems on the roads. The city could also let people know what the traffic was like the previous day, or this day last week, showing half-hourly traffic counts for example.

Combining the Counts and Scoring Effectiveness of Smart City Projects

The IoT big data helps quantify the use of footpaths and cycle ways. It shows the use of roads, including commuter routes around schools and major routes through the city centre. This can help score the effectiveness of Smart City projects such as City Verve, which aims to build and deliver a smarter, more connected Manchester. Creating a city that uses technology to meet the complex needs of its people.

From a health perspective the Iot-VT Smart Counter provides Smart City data to monitor the effectiveness of sports activity, events and jogging routes within parks.

Counting on Public Transport

The Smart Counters are not just being used around the city streets. Buses, trains and trams can also benefit - Smart Transportation.

Automatic Passenger Counting (APC) on Buses

Transport authorities will know the numbers of people arriving by bus at various points in the city, by time of day. The data helps revenue protection – reconciling tickets bought with passenger numbers. It also enables effective fleet bus management with services around the city centre. With real-time GPS location of buses, it gives a clear picture of what is going on. It also provides the ability to show live occupancy figures - on the bus, on screens or via an app - and helps people keep within the social distancing recommendations made necessary by COVID-19 whilst using public transport.More on passenger counting…

Counting Passengers on Trains and Trams

Monitoring the numbers of people arriving on platforms provides vital information on the use of routes by time of day.

Automatically counting passengers on trains and trams

Monitoring Air Pollution

Air quality monitors connect to people and vehicle counting units around the city. Concentrations of particulates are constantly reported, along with temperature, humidity, wind speed, direction etc. More on pollution monitoring in the smart city…

The IoT Communications Technology and Specifications

The sensing technology works with several communications protocols, including

  • Ethernet
  • Wi-Fi
  • 3g / 4g
  • LoRa Wide Area Network (WAN) for IoT (LoRaWAN)
  • SigFox
  • MQTT
  • IBM Watson IoT Platform

IoT-VT IP Camera System Specification

Unit:Standalone 39/49 outdoor IP solution
Size:20 x 15 x 12 cm
Weight:7.5 kg
Power Consumption:250 mA, 230 Volts AC/DC

IoT-VT Analogue System Specification

Unit:Standalone 39/49 outdoor analogue solution
Size:30 x 20 x 15 cm
Weight:4 kg
Power Consumption:250 mA, 230 Volts AC/DC

The sensing units are mounted, for example, on lamp posts around the city. They can also be used indoors.

Download datasheet.

The Smart Cities of the Not-Too-Distant Future

We’ve given a taste of just a few of the benefits of the Smart City and the IoT technology being developed.

A city is not just about streets, buildings and transport. Nor is it just about giving cutting-edge technology. It’s about people and how their lives can be made better.

The data is there for whoever needs or wants it. Enabling clever solutions to urban problems.

To find out more about Smart City systems call us on +44 (0)161 839 6437 or fill in the form below.