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How The Internet Of Things Can Help Cities React To Weather

Much of the United States experienced record-breaking heat levels in July 2022.

This sweltering weather brings about a phenomenon known as heat domes or heat islands, which form when the climate in urban area differs from the conditions is rural areas surrounding it.

According to Bryan Fried, the CEO and Chairman of Pangea Global Technologies, in these cases, the urban area usually experiences higher temperatures than the adjacent areas. “This condition exacerbates adverse climate conditions and temperatures in the area and can cause other problems,” Fried wrote in an email.

“Heat domes in Arizona are frequent, and their effects are often worsened by high particulate matter in the air, especially in the summer months,” said Fried. “Heat domes and excessive particulates in the area impact air quality, carbon dioxide levels and overall air quality.”

Fried said that extreme weather can be mitigated by installing smart devices in urban areas that detect these types of conditions. “The devices are connected wirelessly where data is collected and stored in the platform and subsequently analyzed.”

The data could include particulate saturation, temperature, humidity, wind speed and carbon dioxide levels.

“For example, if the level of particulates in the air might damage structural air conditioning intake systems, those systems can be automatically closed by the platform to avoid damage and malfunction,” said Fried. “Similar notifications might also provide warning where public action can be taken to reduce traffic or use of heavy equipment which would also aggravate air quality.”

The company says their open architecture and wireless lighting platform collects various data, including temperature, humidity, soil content, spectrum control, and can automate reactive actions, like watering, turning off lights, etc.

The platform monitors particulate saturation and air quality in a project with Trane air systems in a test site in Mesa, Arizona. When particulate levels become dangerous, Pangea facilitates Trane air systems to close air intake dampers to prevent site contamination and equipment damage due to haboob dust storms that regularly affect this area.

Bas Steunebrink, co-founder and Director of Artificial General Intelligence at NNAISENSE, said smart cities and especially those cities organized around digital twin technology, have the potential to reduce energy consumption and optimize electrical grids.

“This action will prevent blackouts and ensure that critical infrastructure remains running, such as hospitals and schools, public transportation, and emergency services,” said Steunebrink. “Digital twin tech is used to build a deeper understanding of the myriad processes intertwining the people, companies, infrastructure and spaces in the smart city, to gain actionable insights and to compute improvements.”

Steunebrink says that by connecting the digital twin to weather data and sensors on IoT devices, climate management can be achieved using prediction and planning on real-time data.

An open architecture platform can integrate detection and notification utilities into its framework for heat domes/islands or any other weather issue. Those solutions can be located in outdoor lighting fixtures under power and widely distributed throughout any urban area.

According to Fried, this approach also works in high-flood danger areas like New Orleans. Flood sensing detection systems integrated into IoT platforms [..] can register normal water levels from storms triggering notifications and potential drainage protocols where water levels are too high.

“Climate, in general, can be tracked and evaluated [..] in those detection systems to notify people and agencies of potentially harmful climate conditions and events and trigger automatic responses to those events,” said Fried.

Fried adds that because these devices are connected to and integrated with a technology platform located in light fixtures, the installation and maintenance costs are reduced, and widespread deployment is made simpler and less expensive.

“In the event of an emergency created by climate events, the lighting itself can also be programmed to automatically blink or strobe to crate visual notifications to the public that there is an event,” said Fried.

Fried said the capabilities of an open architecture platform are virtually limitless in helping to track and respond to climate issues. “The ability to create automatic notifications provides people and agencies to craft plans based on those contingencies to mitigate climate-related matters.”

Fried adds that IoT on its own does nothing to mitigate heat domes, but IoT is information, so it’s what’s done with the knowledge that can help alleviate the effects of heat domes.

“For example, if the information points to that effect, a city might restrict traffic or take other measures that would reduce contributed heat,” said Fried. “So, any adjustments must be made substantively as a reaction to the information provided; that’s the value of IoT-based detection systems.”

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