Inspiring example: Infracontrol makes cities talk

July 21, 2014

smartcityOne of the most talked about areas for Internet of Things is Smart Cities. Cities themselves invest to become one. Most of the large players in IoT focus on Smart Cities. There are events, predictions, articles and show cases everywhere and each and everyone use their own definition of Smart Cities. A city is a very complex and dynamic location which from an ICT point of view could be described as a system of systems. It is obvious that sub-systems could be more efficient using IoT solutions and that the overall system of systems could be improved if the data collected was shared cleverly between the systems. No wonder Smart Cities is a perfect topic to focus on both for suppliers and municipalities.

But how much smarter has cities become over the last years? Well, there are of course impressive reference cases here and there and a lot of sub-systems in a lot of cities have become better using IoT solutions. But the size and complexity of pulling it all together in a city is difficult to deal with both from practical and technical perspectives.

This is why I am really impressed by Infracontrol, their pragmatic approach to Smart Cities and what they have been able to do. They started about 20 years ago to help cities connecting mainly traffic related things like tunnel alarms, ventilation systems and traffic lights. As they grew bigger in several cities and with new applications they developed Infracontrol Online™ 2003 to connect cities and citizens for better services. Today they have 56 Swedish municipalities using Infracontrol Online™ and their first ones in Portugal in place as well. Their customers report 60% better service quality, 30% savings in maintenance expenses, a lot of energy savings and higher citizen satisfaction. Sounds smart to me! Needless to say Infracontrol is a member of  the Swedish SMSE-alliance!

Get inspired by Jenny Gustavsson’s 5 minute pitch on Infracontrol at Internet of Everything For Real™ 2014!


European connected cars standard is done deal!

February 18, 2014

0250.auto%20blog_9.16.13Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) is one of the areas where M2M will make a huge difference in our lives. Transportation of people and goods will be more sustainable, safer, more efficient and more predictable. The communication required is complex and includes communication between vehicles, between vehicles and road infrastructure. The EU has invested over €180 million in more than 40 research projects since 2002 and last week the European standards organisations, ETSI and CEN, confirmed that the basic set of standards requested by the European Commission to make connected cars a reality has been fully completed. The European car industry is eager to translate these enabling standards to competitive advantages and we could see the first connected cars able to communicate with road infrastructure already 2015.

With some 200 million vehicles in Europe it’s easy to understand that proper implementation of these standards will make big impact on road efficiency, safety and sustainability. And if the initiated collaboration for global standards with the US and Japan becomes successful, the reward can be many times bigger.
This is good news and enables yet another area where M2M will make big impact on society here and now. And as always, there will be winners and losers based on how well organizations leverage this opportunity. And it definitely made the 10:th ITS European Congress in Helsinki, 16 – 19 June 2014, more interesting to visit.

Inspiring examples: Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems – TPMS

September 23, 2013

TPMSVehicles with wrong tire pressure cause accidents and consume excess energy. Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) were developed to prevent these issues. The first passenger vehicle to adopt tire-pressure monitoring was the Porsche 959 in 1986 and today it is becoming a legal requirement in more and more countries. Car manufacturers have been introducing different TPNS systems more or less voluntarily but in the United States, as of 2008 and the European Union, as of 2012, all new passenger car models released must be equipped with a TPMS. Similar laws are on their way in Asia-Pacific.

TPMS are definitely complex from an engineering, communication and product point of view and the combined investment, including equipment in garages and motor vehicle inspection sites, the sensors in the tires and the receiving part of the in-car system is very big. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US estimates that 660 fatalities and 33,000 injuries each year are attributable to crashes caused by underinflated tires (Bob Ulrich, Editor, at Modern Tire Dealer) so it seems like well working TPMS can help save lives, money and the planet. But every system like this is always a potential hacker target and Rutgers University and the University of South Carolina released a joint study some years ago indicating that they had succeeded to hack a car through the TPMS.
In any case, this is a typical M2M application – it’s been around for years, many of us have them, they are not SIM-based and they deliver on the three M2M promises: safety, sustainability and efficiency.

EU moves forward towards EU-wide eCall solution

December 28, 2012

freeimage-5240129The European Union took yet another step towards an interoperable EU-wide eCall solution when the Commission just adopted a Regulation which establishes the specifications for the upgrading of the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) infrastructure required for the proper receipt and handling of eCalls. eCall is a key initiative to meet the target of halving the overall number of road deaths in the European Union by 2020 starting from 2010.

According to EU: Road safety is an issue of major concern across the entire European Union and for all of its inhabitants: 500 million citizens in the 27 Member States use more than 230 million vehicles on over 5 million km of roads. The purpose of the interoperable EU-wide eCall initiative is to introduce in all vehicles in Europe the minimum functionalities needed to ensure adequate handling of the emergency calls by the emergency response services. Currently, road journeys exceed 100 million annually across the various Member States and they are increasing due to further consolidation of the European Union (through the free movement of goods, people and services). Road safety is one of the major policy issues of Transport Policy in the European Union. In 2009 around 35,000 people were killed and more than 1.5 million injured in about 1.15 million traffic accidents on EU roads. In addition to the tragedy of loss of life and injury, this also carries an economic burden representing approximately EUR 130 billion of cost for society.

I believe this is a typical area where agreements on a standard infrastructure makes a lot of sense. We will save lives, pain, money, time and the environment while establishing an infrastructure which will support the development of the EU region for many years. A common PSAP could obviously be used for more than eCall and will set a standard for certain international services which will help us in the critical effort to make M2M an international business. 


Quantifying parking related problems

December 6, 2012

IBM-global parking index-650Most people have a view on parking. Typically not very positive. As more people continuously move to the cities – Stockholm received the equivalent of two loaded busses per day last year – taking care of traffic and parking is challenging. While doing the research for dynamIQ parking™ I came across a lot of facts and figures related to parking and I though it could be interesting to share some of them in my blog.

A great source of parking data is IBM’s Global Parking Survey 2011 with 8042 commuters in 20 cities on six continents surveyed. That is where I first came across the staggering data that more than 30% of traffic in a city is caused by drivers looking for parking. IBM claims over 1B cars on the roads worldwide which explains the scope of the parking problems. 27% of drivers in the survey respondents self-reported being involved in an argument with a fellow driver over a parking space within the last year. The average time to find parking is around 20 minutes and over half of all drivers in 16 of the 20 cities surveyed reported that they have been frustrated enough that they gave up looking for a parking space and simply drove somewhere else.

Commuting pain is also reflected globally as 69 percent of those surveyed indicated that traffic has negatively affected their health in some way. Some 42 percent of respondents globally reported increased stress and 35 percent reported increased anger.

In order to compare the situation across the globe IBM developed their Parking Index. The IBM Parking Index is comprised of the following key issues: 1) longest amount of time looking for a parking place; 2) inability to find a parking place; 3) disagreement over parking spots; 4) received a parking ticket for illegal parking and 5) number of parking tickets received. The cities scored as follows: New Delhi: 140; Bangalore 138; Beijing 124; Moscow 122; Shenzhen 122; Paris 122; Milan 117; Nairobi 111; Madrid: 104; Singapore 97; Mexico City: 97; Stockholm: 90; Johannesburg: 87; London: 86; New York City: 85; Montreal: 85; Buenos Aires: 80; Toronto: 77; Los Angeles: 61; and Chicago: 51.

According to EU (2008) 60% of the European population is concentrated in urban areas, with these areas producing almost 85% of GDP. Urban issues like traffic congestion and pollution is estimated to cost EU 1% of its GDP.

Another interesting fact is that Michael Schwarz, European Commission, claimed 2010 that goods of value of 7B€ is stolen from trucks in Europe which explains why safe and well organized truck parking is a priority.

Finally it could be interesting to know that Nissan cars got most parking tickets in Sweden 2010 compared to number of registered cars – 40.000 tickets translates to about 35% of all registered Nissan cars. BMW and Mercedes followed just behind (ref Vi Bilägare).


Parking 2.0 is here

December 2, 2012

Slide1Parking is a critical component of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). Parking space is a scarce and expensive resource in urban environments and every free parking slot is an opportunity to improve the traffic situation and increase efficiency in people’s lives. So far parking space have been a dumb static resource and people’s traveling plans have been based on hope. There are estimates that 30% of city traffic is people looking for parking. The result is wasted fuel and time, excess carbon emissions, frustrated drivers and negative impact on the local economy.

The parking related problems will continue to grow as urban population is growing. We need to act now to establish the parking infrastructure needed to enable development of user-friendly and powerful tools which people can use to plan their traveling properly, owners of parking space can use to optimize their business and service and cities can use to plan their traffic system based on solid data.

At B3IT we developed a concept for dynamic parking which we announced at the ITS World Congress in Vienna in October 2012. It is based on an holistic approach where users get access to information from all organizations involved in parking in a city but where each of these organizations still use a solution to connect and manage their parking space which they prefer. We call this dynamIQ parking™.

Last week we launched dynamIQ parking™ at the Mobile Future conference in Stockholm together with the mobile operator Tele2 and  Streetline, the world leader in Smart Parking. The parking issue is incredibly complex with a lot of stake holders, business models, political interests and point of views. I am absolutely convinced it takes a complete solution including a set price in order to move forward. Together with our partners we now have what it takes to offer clients a complete customized solution as a service with a set price. We always start with a six months trial period to a fixed price giving us time to follow-up an adjust the solution for optimal value to the customer. It takes less than two months from signing to have the installation up and running. In other words, this is something very easy for customers to understand and buy and if they aren’t happy after six months they can just abandon the ship. And regardless if the customer is a city, a parking company, a real estate owner, a public transportation company or a private parking space owner they can use our solution to run their parking business better. And the relevant parking data is being made available to drivers together with data from all other parking players simply making urban life easier.

With dynamIQ parking™ in place you can check if there is a decently priced parking available where you are going tomorrow at noon and if you like, reserve and pay for it. And if you don’t find one decide to use public transportation instead. Drivers can use their smartphones, pads and computers but dynamic parking information can also be made available using digital signs and interactive kiosks.

Smart cities simply need dynamIQ parking™!


ITS 2.0

November 9, 2012

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) has been worked on for some twenty years. The idea to look at traffic and transportation using a holistic approach is great and rarely disputed. And the effects when ready would be fantastic! Efficiency, safety, sustainability and convenience, all the key promises of M2M, are there. But still the development is quite slow. Of course we need to remember that a lot of these issues are infrastructure related thus complex and time-consuming to develop. And a multimodal transportation approach require integrated organizations which is yet another complex thing to change. There are also many stakeholders and a lot of legislation involved.

But still I believe there are ways to drastically speed up the process: by leveraging the rapid development in technology in combination with innovation and pragmatism we could make things happen fast. Examples of key things to leverage are

  • the open data movement to allow entrepreneurs to drive innovation
  • the smartphones and pads to allow users of the transportation systems to access the information they need to make qualified decisions
  • crowd sourcing and other innovative ways to collect data
  • entrepreneurs to drive creativity, innovation and choice
A very good example of an ITS type application which is in place and leverage all of these is Waze. It is the world’s  fastest growing community-based traffic and navigation app and it is free. They claim 30 million users already and they even get help to edit the maps from their users. It started as an open-source mapping project in 2006 and Waze was founded 2008. The company is backed by serious investors and the business model is based on location-based advertising. The level of innovation is high and you can for example connect your Facebook account to see where your friends are.

Think about this: First came GPS devices integrated into cars for maybe 3-5K$, then came mobile GPS devices, often with better maps and features, for about 1/10 of the price and now this, for free. The power of what today’s technology and modern ways of working can do is immense. The services are continuously improved and by using one device for many things we even help save the planet.

I am focusing a lot on ITS and together with our partners and entrepreneurs we have numerous concepts and ideas (including dynamIQ parking™ which we launched at ITS World Congress) leveraging modern technology and ways of working to make drastic ITS progress. Let’s get going!


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