The Internet of Things (IoT) is a topic we typically read about every day in both general and specialised media. We’re likely still far from fully understanding the potential it has to change our lives, but those who do so first will have the best chance to find opportunities in the market.

Society is evolving toward the constant transmission of data and full connectivity of all devices. Phones, watches, houses and cars are increasingly being connected to the internet, requiring constant stability. It’s estimated that in two years, there will be 30 billion connected devices.

You might think that competing with the tech giants is impossible, but the truth is that in a global market for innovation and talent, they’re the first to invest in solutions, from small businesses to entrepreneurs.

One of the challenges related to the cities of tomorrow that we’ve discussed at The Collider is transport. Urban centers are increasing in size and people must travel ever greater distances between their home and work, leisure spaces, services, etc. In addition to concerns about distances, people often use means of transport that pollute and are prone to incidents such as traffic accidents.

These three drawbacks have a negative impact on people’s quality of life, safety, productivity and health. IoT is proposing ambitious solutions for connected transport, largely made possible by 5G.

Since 2012, the most advanced mobile communication technology has been 4G, but by 2020, 5G is expected to bring about substantial improvements to mobile network capabilities and ecological sustainability. Let’s take a look at some of its benefits for self-driving vehicles:

  • 5G technology enables 90% energy savings in service provision as compared to 4G.  
  • It is able to provide a 1 Gbps data transfer rate (100 times faster than 4G LTE).
  • It offers increased support of connected devices per square meter, with densities of up to 100 devices per square meter currently in development.
  • Latency, i.e. response time, is less than one millisecond.

In the field of transport, these qualities will allow for a rapid enough response to coordinate self-driving vehicles, both for communication amongst themselves or with a control center. They will also be fundamental for a vehicle’s reaction to elements in its surroundings, such as a red light.

The world’s main operators are already testing 5G under various conditions, and the International Telecommunication Union is expected to define the standard in 2019. One useful reference source for tracking the evolution of 5G is the GSMA website.

While 5G’s revolutionary technology and applications are just materialising, IoT is already being used in public transport using other types of connections, mainly wireless. These examples, which combine IoT, M2M and big data, among other technologies, are already operating in Europe and the United States:

  • The digitalisation of the operation of fully connected public transport improves the coordination of the system, is more efficient and enhances passenger safety.
  • Probes can monitor the functioning of elements of a vehicle in real time. In addition to cars, we should consider buses, trams and trains. We can confirm that all regulations are being complied with, detect the wear of parts or mechanisms (which reduces maintenance costs) and prevent accidents.
  • Since the vehicles are connected and their location can be tracked, data analysis is performed in real time, which optimises the flow of traffic. Also, with permanent information about incidents or delays, information panels are more reliable and can recommend alternate routes to the user.
  • The collection and analysis of data also serves to improve processes and predict urban crowds. This smart management reduces energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
  • WiFi connections on public transport improve the user experience.  

These are just some of the applications of IoT that are already making travel faster, safer and more comfortable. How can we imagine the solutions of tomorrow? Imagining these solutions and responding to the needs of the cities of the future is one of the Collider’s key objectives.