Making Cities More Sustainable With Machine-to-Machine Technology

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Machine-to-machine or M2M technology is rapidly gaining popularity. As digital communication and cellular networks evolve, machines can now communicate wirelessly, without human intervention. Basically, it’s the Internet of things and this type of technology is making our lives simpler. From managing health to energy solutions, M2M can be the missing ingredient in making cities and communities more sustainable and future-ready.

Managing Energy through Smart Metering

One of the biggest priorities right now is managing our resources properly, especially energy. Governments, businesses, and even consumers are looking for different ways to maximize our energy consumption. In the United States alone, 58% of energy produced is wasted, and typical residential areas waste about 30% of electricity from the power grid. By using machine-to-machine technologies, more homes and businesses can look forward to a smarter energy future. Smart meters are being adopted by some cities to help reduce their energy consumption. Using two-way data communication, these meters send real-time data to their service providers. Consumers on the other hand, will benefit by getting flexible pricing based on real-time supply and demand. Energy providers can now determine the actual peak and off-peak hours, which makes it easier for them to distribute the power properly. Another benefit is that companies don’t need to create new infrastructures for smart meter. They can use cellular technology, which is scalable, flexible, and ready to go.

Plugging Into a Greener Future

Electric vehicles (EV) like the Citroen C-Zero, Ford Focus Electric, and Th!nk City are fast becoming popular, thanks to their energy-efficient designs. Compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, EVs don’t emit harmful emissions and their engines are quieter. With more people choosing these green machines on wheels, the cities of tomorrow need smarter charging stations. To answer this need, Chargemaster, a UK-based EV charging station provider, collaborated with O2 to bring M2M technology to their electric charging stations. Through this technology, embedded SIM cards on each charging point will allow customers to authorize themselves via their mobile devices. Aside from authorizing customers, it will also help them find the nearest EV station and pay fees through their phones. The electric vehicle market represents a huge area for growth, and machine-to-machine technology can help develop more services for them.

Waste Collection and Recycling through Wireless Technology

As cities and communities grow, managing urban waste becomes more challenging. Recycling is one of the most efficient ways of addressing this concern. Trash and recycling receptacles have been strategically placed in different parts of the city to keep it clean. However, keeping up with these bins can be expensive, costing around $2,000 per location annually. For a city with 100 recycling receptacles, that would amount to $200,000 less from its annual budget. Utilizing the latest innovations in technology, companies like BigBelly Solar revolutionized waste and recycling management. They attached sensors on each bin which uses a wireless network. Real-time data is then monitored and recycling receptacles can be emptied when needed. Sanitation crews can now cover more ground, service more bins, and save time. A smarter urban waste collection system is an important ingredient in keeping a city environmentally sustainable.

By the year 2020, it’s estimated that almost 2.5 billion M2M-enabled devices will be in service. Digital services are proving to be crucial factors in improving a city’s sustainability. Smarter traffic systems can make roads safer. City health services can be improved, and patients can now be monitored remotely. M2M can provide better solutions to make our lives better and more efficient.

Kyle Albert is a freelancer who has a passion for technology, mobile computing and gadgets that can make our lives easier. You can reach him on [email protected]

Image via Thomas Faivre-Duboz