How IoT Tech Enables One of the Smartest Towns in the U.S.
01 March 2022 / by Richard Lansdowne
Located in Wake County, North Carolina, the Town of Cary is one of the smartest towns in the U.S. With more than 175,000 local residents, the Town of Cary has been committed to improving the lives of its local residents for more than a decade. In the summer of 2007, the Town enlisted the help of analytics systems and solutions provider SAS, also headquartered in Cary, to improve public safety and development services within the town.
As part of this collaboration, the Town of Cary leverages SAS’ software offering to compile, organize and analyze data in order to make smarter, more actionable predictions for the local town residents. With the intel from this data, the Town of Cary is able to run its municipal operations more efficiently by anticipating staffing needs, increasing employee productivity, improving decision-making time and allowing its employees – regardless of role, title or division – to access the data needed to do their jobs better.
Many cities are becoming ‘connected’ by deploying sensors across their municipality to collect all kinds of data. The next step to being truly ‘smart’ like Cary is when the Internet of Things (IoT) data is fed into streaming analytics that create insights enabling predictive decisions. It is precisely this flow that can trigger actions ahead of events to reduce the impact of such events and, in some cases avoid them all together.
The project was anticipated to last four years with re-evaluation of the partnership upon completion. With such immediate success, the project has evolved and expanded over the years.
The Next Phase
The relationship between the Town of Cary and SAS has recently been strengthened by adding a new company, Semtech, to the partnership. In addition to its focus on improving the lives of its residents, the Town of Cary expanded its project scope by being environmentally friendly and more sustainable by reducing waste. Leveraging IoT solutions powered by SAS, built on Microsoft Azure, the town gets regular, real-time insights into the data and analytics across its connected community. Powered by LoRaWAN® network connectivity, town officials are able to identify and solve specific challenges within its small community that then have a big impact on the wider global ecosystem – such as natural disasters, hunger and sustainability. This end-to-end solution provides real-time updates to safeguard the community, its people and resources.
Semtech was a natural fit for this partnership because of the flexibility and breadth of its LoRa® devices and the ecosystem driving the LoRaWAN standard. With long range, low power solutions that are scalable and easy to implement, the Town of Cary quickly witnessed the impact of Semtech on its operations by finding sensors leveraging LoRa across its community and then analyzing the data in the cloud, thanks to SAS. This data can even be used to conduct preventative maintenance and for real-time alerts in unexpected crises.
One notable application deployed today helps to prevent floods. Historically in the town, storm drain water runs down into roads, parking lots, sidewalks and even into buildings – which is not good for the safety of the local residents and their property. In the past, if the rain forced the stormwater levels to rise drastically, the Town of Cary’s response to potential flooding was manual and reactive. Now, with IoT technology and streaming analytics, town officials can regularly monitor the rain levels and rising waters, alerting the residents to potential flooding and giving them ample time to proactively plan and execute. The historical data shows officials specifically when to take action and how to effectively enact the response activities.
The work to manage the water levels is so successful that the Town of Cary has instituted its own team, The Stormwater Division that is responsible for capturing, managing and analyzing the data. The sensors using LoRa measure the water height and depth, flow and rainfall totals. This data is then uploaded to the Azure Cloud where SAS combine it with other data feeds such as weather models to predict the strategy for the departments in the Town such as Public Works, Public Safety and Information Technology.
The three parties are now working together to build a one-of-a-kind Center of Excellence that will focus on cultivating and implementing technology solutions across the Town of Cary. The edge-to-Cloud IoT solutions executed as part of this project will help to solve world problems and make the town a case study for other municipalities to mirror in the coming years. Future applications may include parking meter management to waste conversation, for example. Updates on this work will be shared ongoing and feel free to follow here to learn more.
This article was originally published on embedded.com.
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