The rapid development of the Internet and information technology – coupled with the utilization of big data, cloud platforms, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other related technologies – has facilitated the transformation of the “Smart City” from its inception in the United States under the name “Smart Earth” into the preferred architectural style and development trend in contemporary urban areas.
A “Smart City” is a city that applies information and communication technology (ICT) to collect, analyze, and integrate key data about urban operations, and uses this data to intelligently address various issues, such as industrial and commercial activities, public safety, urban services, and the well-being of the people.
In this article, we will explore how real-time location systems (RTLS) are modernizing smart cities by providing accurate and timely location information for people and assets, and how RTLS can enable new applications and benefits for smart city stakeholders.
Smart City Application Scenarios
The Smart City program is enabled by the progress of science and technology and the adoption of related technologies, such as big data, cloud platforms, IoT, and RTLS.
The program covers the following eight application scenarios that aim to improve the efficiency, safety, and quality of urban life: smart transportation, smart healthcare, smart environmental monitoring, smart building, smart community, smart park, intelligent pipeline management, and smart restroom.
RTLS and Smart City
You might wonder and ask why. Is there any connection between RTLS and Smart City?
The Real-Time Location System (RTLS) has the potential to be utilized efficiently in the design and administration of Smart City.
RTLS facilitates the accurate surveillance and tracking of individuals, vehicle fleets, assets, and urban infrastructure by utilizing cutting-edge technologies, including GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).
An influential implementation of RTLS in Smart City involves the enhancement of transportation system efficiency. Through the utilization of intelligent routing algorithms and real-time location data collected from vehicles endowed with GPS or BLE tags, traffic congestion can be more effectively managed. This reduces fuel consumption and emissions while aiding commuters in saving time.
Ensuring the well-being of residents is a prominent social concern in contemporary society, and RTLS is advantageous in the realm of public protection. By incorporating location-based tracking systems with surveillance cameras, authorities can enhance the efficiency of monitoring crowded areas during emergencies or events.
Emergency responders can efficiently identify individuals requiring aid during a fire outbreak or natural disaster by utilizing their real-time positions acquired via RTLS technology.
Municipal authorities can remotely monitor the fill levels of containers utilized for recycling or refuse bins by affixing BLE tags to them. This enables them to optimize collection routes subsequently.
By doing so, unnecessary journeys are diminished and refuse bins are disposed of promptly, thereby preserving the cleanliness of the entire city. So, RTLS is also of critical importance in the context of refuse management in Smart City.
RTLS offers significant contributions to urban planning and infrastructure maintenance by revealing the actual usage patterns of public spaces among the populace. The data obtained from sensors installed in parks or recreational areas facilitates the identification of seasonal or diurnal variations in footfall density patterns.
This data assists municipal administrators in formulating well-informed decisions regarding the allocation of resources for park maintenance operations, such as scheduling cleanings or incorporating supplementary amenities, in accordance with real-time usage patterns.
Challenges of RTLS Application in Smart City
The implementation of real-time location systems (RTLS) in Smart City faces various challenges. The first challenge is technical difficulty.
With the acquisition of data in a timely manner, a large number of objects, people, and vehicles must be precisely traced and located in a complex urban environment. As a consequence, the RTLS must exhibit the following characteristics: minimal latency, high precision, and dependability.
Another challenge is infrastructure. To meet the positioning needs in different Smart City application scenarios, a large number of network devices, sensors, and nodes are required to support the RTLS system’s operation.
This requires the upgrading or retrofitting of the city’s infrastructure, including the deployment of new communication networks and the installation of sensors.
Security and privacy concerns must be considered during the implementation of RTLS in Smart City. Given the significant amount of personal location data that RTLS systems are obligated to collect and process, it is critical that appropriate measures are taken to protect user privacy and comply with applicable legal and regulatory frameworks.
A further factor that needs to be considered is cost-effectiveness. RTLS systems that are substantial in size and complexity can incur significant costs for both implementation and maintenance, especially in economically underdeveloped or resource-limited regions.
Therefore, when promoting the development of Smart City, it is important to consider the long-term benefits and return on investment (ROI).
There are several challenges associated with the integration of RTLS into Smart City, encompassing aspects such as technology, privacy and security, infrastructure, and cost-efficiency.
However, by effectively managing these challenges, Smart City initiatives can make significant strides forward and improve the quality of life and services provided to residents.
As a key technology, RTLS has become an essential component of Smart City construction. It has the potential to improve transportation, public safety, resource usage, and medical service quality.
With technical advancement and innovation, it is realistic to anticipate that the usage of RTLS in Smart City will become more widespread and comprehensive in the future.