Sudeepto Roy | Klish Way
Exactly 100 years ago, in June, about 140 women operating San Diego’s telephone lines walked off their jobs, demanding a minimum wage increase from $9 per week to $15. Back then, phone calls were completed by these hardworking ladies by plugging telephone cords in switchboards. “Whole State Suffering from Telephone Strike” screamed local headlines. Business normalcy was restored in July upon reaching a compromise, though it took a further while to reach the wage goal.
A hundred years hence, we live in a very different world, where our wellbeing crucially depends on continuously connected devices: recall the inconvenience from internet and TV service disruption when a fairgrounds fiber line was temporarily severed on May 23rd. Broadly known as the Internet of Things or IOT, these sensing, internet-connected and increasingly intelligent devices are purpose built for specific tasks. In past articles, we looked at the IOT of personal and living spaces. Today we will touch upon the crucial role of IOT in public and private infrastructure.
This area of IOT is pervasive and diverse in its applicability, and includes smart agriculture (monitoring of soil moisture and nutrients, foliage health, wildfire activity, pest detection), smart hospitals (connected medical devices, better patient-practitioner coordination, improved records access), industrial control and automation (replacing miles of wires with reconfigurable wireless connections, smart sensors for optimizing energy use), transportation (smart traffic signage and lights for congestion abatement, prompt accident response), and retail (smart shelf labels, inventory management, digital signage, interactive kiosks).
One aspect of infrastructure IOT that profoundly touches our urban lives is that of a Smart City. While the possibilities are endless, consider a few examples: Electricity, gas and water smart meters relay instantaneous consumption stats through an app, encouraging conservation. At a city level, net utility consumption is monitored in real time, providing data-driven perspective for utility purchases and long-term sustainability. A visitor driving into our city is automatically guided to the nearest available parking spot and offered convenient app-based fee collection. All City-related transactions from paying municipal bills, to monitoring the latest bluff-slide repair to reporting photos of potholes occur through a Citizens’ app. Trash bins automatically request collection upon nearing 90% fill. Street lights automatically dim in the absence of road activity and also double up as monitors for real-time traffic, surf conditions, climate and pollution. And going a major step further, all non-identifying data collected through these devices by the City are made available to residents to train AI algorithms and offer further improved goods and services. These are among the citizen focused services that are rolling out right now in the world’s major cities ranging from San Francisco to Bangalore!
San Diego’s cities including Del Mar have an unparalleled opportunity to benefit from infrastructure IOT. Our blessings are numerous: Leading universities and technology companies, innovators, civic pride in green living (as evidenced by the highest rates of EV and solar adoption), active city governments, a strong urge for community betterment and year-round electronics-friendly weather!