Miami-Dade Delivers Smart City Services with CIVIQ Kiosks

Create: 06/07/2017 - 18:06
WayPoint kiosk

Photo: CIVIQ Smartscapes


Miami-Dade County officials were looking for an innovative technology solution that could serve an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse population of 2.5 million residents and also accommodate and help a growing number of international visitor and tourists. With the 14th largest transit system in the United States, the region needed to find ways to elevate its regional transit experience, increase Internet access for residents, streamline bus trips and transfers, and communicate critical information to citizens. Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez and the board of County Commissioners teamed up with Intel and Boston-based CIVIQ Smartscapes to provide a countywide public kiosk solution that could deliver the information and data that residents need to navigate daily life—all at a reasonable cost.

CIVIQ decided to fund the solution installation and maintenance through digital advertising and bore the upfront rollout costs. With this strategy, Miami-Dade can count on an ongoing revenue stream from the project. “We look forward to improving the lives of citizens and delivering free Wi-Fi, digital county services and mobility across transit—all at zero net cost to taxpayers,” says county commission chairman Esteban Bovo, in a case study reported by Intel@IoT.

Intelligent Urban Infrastructure

One of Miami-Dade’s biggest challenges, specifically in the transportation sector, is accommodating for the region’s sprawling population growth. CIVIQ and Intel collaborated to create a solution that provides intelligent urban infrastructure throughout the entire county.

The solution has a combination of software, hardware, Wi-Fi and IoT technology. CIVIQ’s hardware, an interactive public WayPoint, and the CIVIQ Control Center are supported by integrated software and a highly secure VPN, all running on Intel processors. CIVIQ’s plan includes installation of up to 300 digital WayPoints that provide free public Wi-Fi. The rollout includes more than 1,000 Wi-Fi devices in public transit vehicles and an additional set of 51 Wi-Fi devices for transit stations.

The Birth of the Smart City Ecosystem

The project officially began in May, as the first CIVIQ WayPoint was installed at the Government Center in Miami Dade. This installation was dubbed by CIVIQ as the “world’s first fully integrated smart city ecosystem.” The purpose of the WayPoint installations throughout the county is three-fold:

●     Provide high-speed, free and accessible Wi-Fi to the general public

●     Provide recently updated transportation information to encourage higher use of the county’s public transportation services

●     Provide community-wide emergency alerts for residents to increase security and safety.

The WayPoint communication hubs contain Intel Core™ processors with Intel vPro™ technology. An IoT gateway seamlessly filters and routes edge data from the kiosks and sensors, enabling actionable intelligence at the edge. The kiosks have high-definition, 55-inch touchscreens that illuminate various types of content, including advertising, public service announcements, local transit time data and other pertinent information.

Additional specifications and features include:

●     High-speed USB chargers

●     Support for near real-time analytics

●     High brightness screens to accommodate for a variety of climates

●     Draggable subway maps to help users find the best route to destinations

●     City safety information

WayPoint kiosk

Photo: CIVIQ Smartscapes WayPoint

According to Michael Foley, Chief Operating Officer of CIVIQ Smartscapes, “CIVIQ’s WayPoints are very robust, durable devices, designed to have a 10- to 20-year lifecycle. It’s important that the uptime remains high. They’re also designed and built to be scalable, as new technology comes into play. When new partners come up with new devices—whether for traffic management or security—we can add these to the system. We’re creating a robust, scalable structure for the future.”                                  

George Burciaga, the Managing Director of Global Government Development and Innovation at CIVIQ Smartscapes, said in a statement, “CIVIQ’s solution focuses on the heartbeat of every city, its people. Our technology delivers a new model of engagement and solves important challenges that every community faces—in communications, public Wi-Fi, safety and transportation.”

Find Your Way with WayPoint

To find out more information about these Intel-powered kiosks and their applications within the expanding technology-based urban experience, watch this video. Read the Intel case study about the CIVIQ Smartscapes rollout in Miami-Dade. View the spec sheet on CIVIQ WayPoint.   

Solving the First Mile-Last Mile Problem

Create: 05/30/2017 - 14:05
Go Centennial Lyft

Photo: Go Denver app/Centennial Innovation Team


As smart cities gain steam, many are taking the initiative when it comes to addressing the challenge of getting their more isolated citizens to their closest public transportation stop or station. One of the more recent creative solutions aimed at building a bridge across what is known as the “first mile-last mile” quagmire are pilot programs that see cities teaming up with popular ridesharing companies. One such collaboration was launched last year in Colorado, with the city of Centennial joining forces with Lyft to provide its riders with free first/last mile service.

Centennial Steps Up

Starting in August of 2016 the city teamed up with Lyft for its innovative six month long Go Centennial Pilot. The groundbreaking partnership focused on making it easier for the city’s residents to get to and from their closest public transportation option. The collaboration’s goal was to improve public transit access in this suburban region of Denver by providing service between a passenger’s home and the nearby light rail station. The city was set on providing public transit offerings that were within everyone’s reach—and providing an affordable alternative to driving alone—by subsidizing Lyft Line rides for passengers within a certain range of their local light rail.

“Go Centennial aims to help people who choose not to drive a car,” said Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon. “It delivers on the promise of urban mobility by making it easier to use mass transit and ridesharing services. This pilot will help solve the first- and last-mile challenge of taking transit, and our citizens will be able to conveniently get from point A to point B.”

Go Centennial Lyft

Photo: Go Centennial

The partnership between Centennial and Lyft marks the first time a city has fully subsidized ridesharing for their commuters, making the program broadly accessible—across a variety of income levels and physical capabilities. To create a partnership that delivers on its commitment to inclusivity, Lyft enabled a telephone-based booking option to extend service to citizens who don’t own a smartphone, and the company also partnered with Via Mobility to bring more accessible vehicles onto its platform. The Lyft Access Mode enables passengers who need an accessible ride to request a vehicle with a ramp.

How it Works

Using the specially created GOCENTENNIAL code, local travelers wanting to get to or from the Dry Creek Light Rail Station could get a free Lyft Line ride on either end. To be eligible, riders could only use the Lyft Line between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday—commute hours. The city also teamed up with Xerox to offer its citizens the Go Denver app, which offered another way to request a ride from Lyft while providing the additional capabilities to plan and book a trip across different modes of transportation.

A Smart Win/Win

The benefits of this kind of pilot doesn’t just serve the interests of the city of Centennial, Lyft also sees the potential benefit that the insights from these kinds of arrangement might provide them in the long term. "Pilots like the Lyft shuttle in Centennial that are funded through local governments and collaborative between companies, cities, app developers and solution providers will move the industry forward,” said Rena Davis, Public Policy Manager for Lyft, at the recent Internet of Things World 2017 in Santa Clara.  

"With fixed routes that offer last-mile transportation options available to everyone, we can reduce congestion in the short term and eventually switch to efficient autonomous vehicles. These pilots that are successful on a small scale are an important innovation for the transportation industry as a whole, as we can use the transit data generated from Lyft and the riders to model larger solutions," Davis explained.  

See the full results and ridership stats from the Go Centennial pilot program. 

Connect the Dots: Vehicles Turning into Conduits for Services and Data

Create: 05/26/2017 - 14:18
Ford CEO Jim Hackett CEO

When Ford Motor Company announced it was making Jim Hackett its new CEO, a lot of automotive dots were connected, including turning vehicles into massive data gathering and analysis engines.

While the physical end game is completely autonomous vehicles and frictionless man-machine interfaces, the opportunity is not so much the sale of the physical vehicle itself, but instead to analyze driver behavior along with physical and mental health, and selling services on top of that information.

The totally connected vehicle will turn into a two-way conduit, with user data going upstream for analysis, and context-aware paid-for features and services flowing downstream.

Of course, this is an extrapolation on a frequently overlooked aspect of Hackett’s appointment to CEO. All reports point to his turnaround role at Steelcase, which he took over in the mid-1990s, but it’s critical in this context to note that he has been leading Ford’s new subsidiary, Ford Smart Mobility LLC, since March of 2016. In that role he owned the mandate of designing, building, growing and investing in what is still an emerging mobility experience.

There’s no doubting that Ford was already immersed in connectivity, given the success of Ford SYNC, and it has developed a slew of apps for its vehicles that make the smartphone part of the experience, including voice-control of a mobile phone’s application.

While it had already invested heavily in smarter vehicles at the time Ford Smart Mobility was launched, it’s out going CEO Mark Fields since predicted that fully autonomous vehicles will be on the road by 2021. The timeline is optimistic, but the underlying point is true: we’re heading quickly in that direction. At a time when Ford, as a company, has been doing relatively poorly, now is good time to make a clear shift in emphasis.

This timing is classic management advice: never waste a good downturn. Instead, use it to make sweeping changes that were already necessary but can now be included as part of the new direction. In some cases, like automotive, it’s a chance to completely rethink what the company is all about. For now, Ford is adamant that it’s still in automotive manufacturing and is adding mobile services to its roster as Hackett moves in.

That may be true, but from another perspective, fewer automobile manufacturers are distinguishable by their vehicles. A certain “sameness” has developed with many recognizing that users like a style or set of features at a cost, and it’s not a huge barrier to entry for automobile suppliers to provide those features. Just ask Hyundai. Ford has strength in trucks, for sure, but across the industry, margins are thinning.

The IoT gives auto makers have two ways to thicken those margins again. The first is to do what Ford has explicitly said it will do: provide more user services, which keeps customers tied to the vehicles while opening up new routes to revenue. The second path, and this is more implicit than explicit, is to analyze all user behavior, driving habits, locations driven and the state of the driver. This data provides not just information that can help improve services and feed into the design of autonomous vehicles. Ford is already working with IBM on this kind of platform to help vehicles make smart decisions. The data can also be sold to, or used by, its partners.

How the selling or marketing of that data is implemented could raise privacy concerns; it’s a matter of how much privacy users are willing to give up for the services rendered. That said, it’s already been shown that users are quite happy to lower privacy walls for free services. The question now is to what degree vehicles will transition to being more about services and data, than about road-hugging performance and good looks.

IoT solution providers have a critical role to play here, from ensuring security of the provided services to enabling connected sensors inside and outside the vehicle, and connecting vehicles to other vehicles (V2V) and to infrastructure (V2I).

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich turned heads when he declared Intel to be a “data company.” It’s not a big stretch to see automobile companies doing likewise. At some point, the value of the vehicle will be tied to the data and services it can provide, rather than the cost of making it, or the insignia it happens to carry. Like with all of IoT, it’s all about the data. With vehicles, the data is all about us.

Smarter DC Project Taps IoT to Ease Capital Congestion

Create: 05/23/2017 - 13:45
Smart DC smart city


Washington D.C. is a sprawling urban metropolis that has a unique portfolio of challenges. The area is home to 297 foreign embassies, millions of visitors and 90 government agencies with 33,000 employees. Recent growth of more than 17 percent in the past 15 years has brought prosperity but also created a digital divide, as 18 percent of the District population is living below poverty.

With the flux in population and growth, the city’s infrastructure constantly needs attention and upgrades. The region’s water system has 1,350 miles of aging pipes that date back to the Civil War. And the transportation system is continually clogged, making movement around the city a challenge. The Urban Mobility Scorecard reports that DC Metrobus speeds average less than 11 mph system-wide.

The good news is that DC is home to plenty of people who know how to implement policy and change, including Archana Vemulapalli, chief technology officer. She is leading an interagency, multi-partner project called Smarter DC that begins with several IoT pilot programs that will lay the groundwork for the transformation of DC to a smart city.

One of Vemulapalli’s guiding principles with the Smarter DC initiative is to be transparent and collaborative. “A smart city requires transparent and engaging governance, a culture of participation, visionary city leaders and empowered and active citizens,” she said at a recent conference in Santa Clara, CA. “Real efficiency is when transparency happens within departments, when we look at what we have and what we can spend.”

She notes that other guiding factors for the Smarter DC project are resilience, sustainability and equitable, citizen-focused solutions. “Equity is a lens we can’t lose track of in our DC community. The solution has to work for everyone, regardless of their job, age or socio-economic status.”

Bringing the IoT to America’s Main Street

One of the initial Smarter DC projects her team is focused on is working with the business improvement district for Pennsylvania Avenue. The project is called PA 2040, a name that is derived from its mission to actualize today what Pennsylvania Avenue could look like in 2040.

A busy thoroughfare often dubbed “America’s Main Street,” Pennsylvania Avenue serves as an aorta for D.C., running through the business district and grazing important landmarks. The street creates a hub for restaurants, bars, museums and monuments that attract locals and tourists in droves.

To launch the technology needed for the PA 2040 pilot, Vemulapalli gathered team members from multiple areas, including the D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer, the National Capital Planning Commission and George Washington University. To enlist new technology vendors and solution providers, the DC IT department held regular Demo Days events to accelerate its smart city experimentation.

Vemulapalli also got citizen input. She encouraged various city agencies to provide volunteer staff to get feedback from DC residents, asking them what type of services would improve not just this corridor, but their quality of life in D.C. “Did they want kiosks, public Wi-Fi, better transportation or safer streets? We needed to know what was top of mind,” said Vemulapalli. 

Smart DC

Image: District Department of Transportation

Tiny Bits of Data in the District

Once they had input and determined the top priorities for constituents, the PA 2040 team set out to monitor everything from energy consumption to road degradation and—in some stretches—the hotspots for petty crime. It looked to address these issues through the use of hybrid video and sensor technology on Pennsylvania Avenue lampposts, which light up nearly 6 miles of roadway and sidewalks and consume massive quantities of energy.

The first phase was to install gigabit Wi-Fi to one section of Pennsylvania Avenue to enable the data transfer needed for the smart streetlights. The team then installed an LED smart streetlight capable of monitoring its surroundings to detect everything from car crashes to pedestrian traffic levels. The District used Sensity and Cisco within the pilot area as the solution providers. The smart light technology (which can dim on cloudy days) has already reduced energy consumption 30 to 40 percent, and it has optimized operative efficiency for maintenance crews, notes Vemulapalli.

In the next phase of PA 2040, the team wants to use the sensors on the street lights to enable smart parking systems and add in a variety of video nodes attached to each street light for public safety purposes.

Moving from Smart Silos to a Smart City

Vemulapalli intends to take the learnings from this initial pilot and use them as a template in the next round of projects. “Just from our Wi-Fi and lighting project, we’ve learned so much about what it takes to get permits, what kind of connectivity you need, what kind of backhaul you need,” she said.

In future Smarter DC projects, the District is looking into using IoT sensors in the sewage system to help detect infectious diseases. It also has plans to have a GPS-optimized city grid that will turn all the street lights green to make a clear path for emergency vehicle transit.  

To learn about the programs and technology rollouts in Washington, D.C., visit Download the smart city plan from the District Department of Transportation, “Smart DC: Making the District a Smart City.”

CHP Enlists the IoT for Highway Safety Help

Create: 05/19/2017 - 15:49
ShotSpotter IoT sensor transportation

Photo: ShotSpotter


The State of California, in a multi-agency effort between the California Transportation Agency, the FBI, local law enforcement agencies and the California Highway Patrol (CHP), has pledged funds to install a new highway crimefighting team. The technology lineup includes a handful of IoT technologies: acoustic microphone sensors, license tag readers, video surveillance cameras and ShotSpotter gunshot detection and location service.

The cameras and related equipment will be installed along two major highways, Interstate 80 and Highway 4, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The highways connect the cities of Richmond, CA, and Antioch, CA, and they have been plagued with dozens of gang-related shootings over the past 18 months that have killed and injured motorists. According to a report in the East Bay Times, the overall cost of the project will be roughly $1.5 million to $2 million. Law enforcement officials note that this will be the first time in California this collection of IoT technology has been used on freeways.

Faster Response

The aim of installing this technology is to decrease and prevent violent crimes that often plague high crime and gang sites on the edges of and adjacent to the highway. According to the California Highway Patrol, since 2015 there have been 87 shootings on Bay Area freeways in which eight people died — all of them in Contra Costa County — and 39 others were injured. In 2017, law enforcement officials have already reported 21 shootings, which is alarmingly high.

The hope is that by using the cameras and automated gunshot technology, CHP officers will be able to respond more quickly to highway shootings. Until now, the problem with nabbing drivers who are shooting at each other on the freeway is that the CHP would receive reports of a crash, but officers only realized that it had been caused by gunfire when they arrived at the scene. The time lapse often results in the shooters escaping the scene and make it difficult for police to gather evidence on a moving freeway.

Safer Highways

The California State Transportation Agency, using recently secured funds for this project, plans to work closely with CHP and other law enforcement officers to implement the technology this summer. The plan is to install three components that work together: ShotSpotter acoustic microphones and gunshot surveillance monitoring, video cameras and license plate readers.

The video cameras will have panning, tilting and zooming capabilities and additional technology that allow them to capture still pictures of moving vehicles. The sound of a gunshot would automatically turn the video camera in the direction of the shooter as well as send an alert to someone logged into the surveillance system who will be able to adjust the position of the lens remotely. The video camera will also have the capability to take still shots of a suspect’s vehicle and send them to the police agency in that area.

Meanwhile, the license plate reader is constantly running. So once police have zeroed in on a shooter using ShotSpotter sensors and the pan-tilt-zoom cameras, they can review the video footage of vehicles’ plates to find the set belonging to the suspect’s car. In addition to capturing visual information about the shooter and its vehicle, this combination of video and license technology can also help identify potential witnesses (in nearby cars) who watched the shooting occur.

How ShotSpotter Works

The key component of the integrated system is ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection, acoustic surveillance technology that uses sophisticated sensors to detect, locate and alert law enforcement agencies of gunfire incidents in real time. ShotSpotter uses acoustic sensors that are strategically placed in an array of 15 to 20 sensors per square mile that can reliably detect and accurately triangulate gunshot activity. Each sensor captures the precise time, location and audio snippet associated with boom and bang sounds that may represent a gunshot.

This data is first filtered by machine algorithms that are further qualified by a trained and staffed 24x7 Incident Review Center at ShotSpotter to ensure the events are in fact gunfire. In addition, they can append the alert with other critical intelligence, such as whether a fully automatic weapon was fired. This process takes less than 45 seconds between the actual shooting and the digital alert (with a precise location dot on a map) popping onto the screen of a computer in the 9-1-1 Call Center.

ShotSpotter transportation IoT

Photo: ShotSpotter

In addition to command center notifications, ShotSpotter offers ShotSpotter Flex, a subscription service that instantly notifies officers of gunshot crimes in progress with real-time data delivered to dispatch centers, patrol cars and smart phones via the ShotSpotter Mobile™ App.

The mobile app:

  • Provides real-time access to maps of shooting locations and gunshot audio
  • Offers actionable intelligence for on-site officers, detailing the number of shooters and the number of shots fired
  • Pinpoints precise locations for first responders aiding victims, searching for evidence and interviewing witnesses.

Learn More

Watch the ShotSpotter video to see how the technology works. You can also hear testimony about the necessity and application of ShotSpotter for decreasing gun violence from law enforcement

Connect The Dots: Internet of Vehicles Gets Structure and Support

Create: 04/28/2017 - 10:13
autonomous vehicles IoT

As more sensors and communications features are added to automobiles, it’s clear that vehicles are already headed toward some level of autonomy, despite very valid concerns. Overcoming those concerns requires enormous processing horsepower and cloud communications, and Intel® GO™ provides the necessary hardware and software to accomplish this.

In last week’s update on Ilika’s thin-film batteries for IoT applications, it was mentioned in passing that vehicles are becoming just another IoT dot. That was an understatement: they’re actually already a really big, mobile and critically important IoT dot. With sensors under the hood feeding engine control units (ECUs), in-cabin sensors helping to make passengers comfortable and external sensors keeping the entire system and its cargo safe, it’s a small feat to imagine automobiles soon driving themselves, but we’re not there yet. Not by a long shot.

Last September, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) adopted the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International’s six levels of automation, and right now, we’re only at Level 2, pushing at Level 3 (Figure 1).

autonomous vehicles IoT levels

Figure 1. The US DoT adopted SAE International’s J3016 definition of six levels of vehicle autonomy. Right now the industry is at Level 2, pushing Level 3. (Image source: SAE International).

At Level 0, there is no assistance, only warnings. Level 1 includes features like adaptive cruise control, parking assistance and lane-keeping assistance. Level 2 enters the hands-off phase, but the driver must be ready to retake control of the vehicle should it not respond properly. At Level 3, the driver can take their eyes off the road, but should be alert enough to respond to a request to intervene. Level 4 allows the driver to sleep, while Level 5 is full automation.

While the industry is working toward Level 3, the hard part is getting from Level 3 to Level 4. Level 5 is exponentially more difficult. Just getting comfortable with Level 3 will require more research, more sensing, more processing and more communications between vehicles and infrastructure.

According to Intel, the amount of data an autonomous vehicle will generate will reach 4,000 Gbytes per day. To help deal with the processing and communication of that amount of data, and to reduce the barrier to entry for solution developers, the company announced the Intel® GO™ Autonomous Driving Solutions earlier this year (Figure 2).

autonomous vehicle IoT Intel Go

Figure 2. Intel® GO™ Autonomous Driving Solutions enable the vehicular IoT dot such that it can sense and communicate as needed to reach higher levels of autonomy. (Image source: Intel Corp.)

 Recognizing that the processing of data from LiDAR, radar, high-speed cameras and internal sensors will require a combination of high-performance parallel and sequential computing, the company turned to its own CPUs and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Specifically, Intel GO uses a combination of Intel® Atom® and Intel® Xeon® processors for automotive, with Intel® Arria® 10 FPGAs (Figure 3).


autonomous vehicles IoT

Figure 3. The Intel® GO™ platform combines Intel® Atom® or Intel® Xeon® processors for automotive, with an Intel® Arria® 10 FPGA to optimize sensor data processing. Shown is the Atom processor version. (Image source: Intel Corp.)

The logic behind the approach is that repetitive functions can be assigned to the FPGAs, while the CPU can handle the decision-making. Getting the mix right is critical, so Intel also provided a software development kit (SDK) to allow developers to delegate functions appropriately and easily.

The kit includes computer vision, deep learning and OpenCL tool kits to more quickly develop the middleware and algorithms. A sensor data-labeling tool allows for the creation of “ground truth” for deep-learning training and environment modeling. The SDK also has driving-targeted libraries, compilers, performance and power analyzers, and of course, debuggers. The tools emphasize a functional safety workflow, a “must have” if autonomous vehicles are ever to make it to the road, at any level.

For communication, the platform is looking to incorporate 5G, which appears to be the ultimate connector of all IoT dots. Between now and 5G’s availability, there is much research and data gathering to be done, and vehicle-compatible IoT solutions for that need to be made available for academia, small startups and large manufacturers.


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