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Strengthening infrastructure resilience with IoT

In this post, Ruchi Verma, ‎IoT Offering Lead, explores how infrastructure resilience can be strengthened with Ericsson Connected Environmental Monitoring.

In 2010 the IoT Council first declared April 9 as IoT Day. This year the council hosted IoT Day events around the world on the theme of IoT for Social Good, with infrastructure resilience being one of the key topics. As such, I would like to take a look at how IoT technologies can provide crucial support in the identification and early detection of natural hazards, as well as aiding in the recovery from natural disasters.

Building resilience into our infrastructure

As we go about our daily lives, it is rare that we stop and actually contemplate just how dependent on infrastructure we are. But protecting our roadways, communication networks, distribution channels, and utilities cannot be an afterthought.

To build and maintain safe and successful communities, we need to preserve existing infrastructure and protect the investment in new infrastructure. Part of that effort includes mitigating the risk of natural hazards and building effective recovery plans and methodologies.

When disasters strike, we see just how vulnerable our communities are, and just how much we rely on infrastructure. Effective use of the IoT can help improve and maintain the functionality of infrastructure, and protect the lives of citizens within a city, and across wide geographical areas.

Identifying risks of natural hazards with IoT

With the growth of Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies, it is becoming increasingly affordable to deploy a massive number of sensors to monitor environmental conditions ranging from humidity to seismic activity. Supported by the Ericsson IoT Accelerator, our Connected Environmental Monitoring platform makes it easier to onboard such massive numbers of monitoring sensors, and to effectively manage the data they collect of environmental parameters such as air, water, noise etc.

We are developing ways that environmental data can be collected and used to mitigate risks from hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires, snow storms, landslides and any number of other natural hazards. Sensor data can determine which areas are most vulnerable, so resources can be focused on reinforcing at-risk infrastructure and building contingency plans.

Early warnings can save lives

Using IoT sensors to detect hazards is not enough to save lives, clear data must be delivered to the right hands in good time. The Ericsson Connected Environmental Monitoring platform visualizes real-time data on a dashboard which can be securely accessed by stakeholders working in public sector & cities.

With clear, real-time data, public officials can act on early warnings, and share relevant information with their communities. One example of such an effort can be found in a collaboration between Ericsson, China Mobile and the China Geological Survey Institute, who have launched a trial of a disaster monitoring and warning system based on massive IoT technology.

The mountainous region of southwestern China is prone to earthquakes and sudden landslides. When earthquakes occur, the people living in remote hillside communities often have little warning of the approaching danger.

To remedy this situation, an IoT solution will be developed to broadcast public safety warnings using capabilities of China Mobile’s existing LTE network, along with a monitoring supported by Ericsson Connected Environmental Monitoring. The goal is to use these capabilities to save lives and help secure infrastructure in the event of a future disaster.

Real time data bolsters recovery when disaster strikes

With all its predictive powers, unfortunately, the IoT cannot prevent natural disasters. However, when crises do occur, the open, yet secure data sharing enabled by Connected Environmental Monitoring can create synergies between city departments and multiple municipalities to strengthen response and recovery.

Response does not have to be left to individuals or bureaucracies. Instead, processes can be automated to reduce human error. For example, a sensor can measure a parameter such as water levels in a lake. When thresholds are exceeded, an actuator can be triggered, such as opening flood gates to release excess water during heavy rain.

Data collected before a disaster and during the recovery process can provide learnings to improve predictions and recovery efforts in the future. With data driving our processes, oversights can be caught and lives can be saved.

Building strong, resilient communities with IoT

As the saying goes, you don’t miss the water until the well runs dry. This metaphor is relevant for communities who need to take preventative action to slow the pace of crumbling infrastructure, and to protect against risks in a world of unpredictable environmental changes.

We at Ericsson are committed to social responsibility, and we see IoT as an important part of that commitment. Visit the IoT Day website to learn more about this year’s activities and IoT for Good.

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To learn more about Ericsson’s sustainability work, check out our Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Report 2017 at: www.ericsson.com/sustainability-report

Written by Ruchi Verma

Ruchi Verma is an industry professional with 13+ years of experience, bridging technology and business. She joined Ericsson in 2014 where she has focused on IoT and Smart Cities. She has a deep understanding of IoT use cases - particularly in the area of environmental monitoring and its implications on overall city development. Ruchi strongly believes in technologies that solve problems, create new opportunities and lead to disruptive innovation.

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