• What can smart cities administrators learn from enterprise networks?

    What can smart cities administrators learn from enterprise networks?

    Urban planning is entering a new era. Breaking the mold with centuries of agricultural living, urbanisation has taken place on an unprecedented scale since the industrial revolution. Today cities are home to more than half of the world’s population, and it’s anticipated there will be a further 2.5 billion urban dwellers by the year 2050. With this dramatic shift in demographics, pressures on infrastructure systems increase exponentially, particularly with the expectation quality of life should continue to increase. That’s why we‘ve seen smart city projects make up the largest segment in the IoT space over the last few years. With hundreds of active initiatives, vendors and municipal governments around the world are paving the way for the digital cities. As an example, in the US, telecoms operator Verizon has been working with city authorities in Sacramento, San Jose, Boston, and elsewhere to roll out IoT connectivity for a variety of areas from traffic management and integrated public transport, to energy-efficient street lighting. "An interconnected smart city is certainly complex – but we can also see it as a larger version of existing enterprise networks" A smart cities programme in Singapore has been rolled out to deploy sensors and automated meters in order to improve the efficiency of the city’s power grid—and to also incrementally reduce the use of air conditioning in residential areas. Meanwhile, even closer to home, the city of Cambridge’s “Smart Cambridge” initiative focuses on improving the city’s public transport. A city that never sleeps Smart cities consist of multiple, interconnected networks of remote sensors and endpoints—both fixed and mobile—that continuously record and exchange data. This data is then stored and analysed to identify underlying patterns and trends across the ecosystem. But the sheer volume of data, plus the complexity of the many interconnected networks involved, means that it won’t just be the city that never sleeps at night; system administrators face a monumental task of maintaining this added complexity within the sensors’ underlying systems. An interconnected smart city is certainly complex. But we can also see it as a larger version of existing enterprise networks that connect offices in different locations, collect and analyse large volumes of data from different sources, and work closely with third-party partners and providers. The important difference is a smart city involves a broader scale and scope—with more network layers and endpoints. But a smart city requires the same skills needed by administrators to manage and maintain a conventional enterprise network. Connectivity is the key The features and functions associated with smart cities, such as traffic management systems and integrated public transport networks, aren’t just interwoven, they must operate in real time. They’re coordinated by, and dynamically adapt to, variable circumstances such as vehicle congestion levels or constantly changing l...
  • Owners of electric vehicles could soon be able to charge their cars while driving

    Owners of electric vehicles could soon be able to charge their cars while driving

    Electric cars will be charged wirelessly while on the move in an initiative designed to revolutionise transport in the UK. Coventry intends to create the UK’s first public ‘E-lane’ next year by installing wireless chargers on to a stretch of road in the north east of the city. It will, if successful, pave the way for electric vehicle use to become widespread across the UK and beyond within 10 years, experts say. “Charging batteries on the move is key to the success of electric vehicles in the UK, not least because it will take away the anxiety many people feel about finding a charging station before it’s too late,” said project leader Shamala Evans, of Coventry city council. Charging on-the-go If the scheme is successful Coventry’s authorities will ‘electrify’ more of its roads, followed closely by other towns and cities. Charging on-the-go is one of the holy grails of electric transport, especially for longer journeys, as it removes the need for drivers to stop every 100 to 250 miles, find a charging station and wait - potentially for several hours - while their battery tops up. Once charging lanes became widespread, battery sizes could be significantly reduced because they wouldn’t need to hold as much electricity. “Batteries are large, heavy and expensive - so a smaller battery makes the car lighter. That means it uses less energy, and creates space so it can carry more passengers or cargo,” said Noam Ilan, who is working with Coventry council on the city’s proposed electric lane. Shrinking batteries also makes them cheaper to produce, while their reduced weight means less wear and tear on the tyres - reducing rubber pollution - added Mr Ilan, who is head of business development at Electreon, an Israeli road technology company. E-lanes and driverless vehicles E-lanes will also smooth the way for driverless vehicles to becoming widespread, especially those designed to transport elderly, disabled or very young passengers who cannot drive and would find it difficult to locate and use a charging station. An influx of vehicles on the road if autonomous vehicles do take off would put even more pressure on roadside charging stations, further increasing the need for on-the-road-charging facilities, according to Professor Mohammad Reza Mousavi, of the University of Leicester. “Autonomous vehicles could, for example, allow you to send your kid to school without you being involved, so you can drive somewhere else. But you would need ‘inductive charging’ for them to become widely used,” he said. Autonomous vehicles It is expected that many of the autonomous lorries of the future will be devoid of people altogether, making manual recharging even more difficult. But with electric lanes, these lorries could theoretically work around the clock. The world’s first public road in the world that can wirelessly recharge electric-car batteries while they are on the move is due to open in the US state of Illinois early next year. Similar e-roads catering for buses a...
  • Analysis finds hybrids make better use of scarce batteries than pure EVs

    Analysis finds hybrids make better use of scarce batteries than pure EVs

    In the face of growing shortages of batteries and battery materials for electric cars, one respected analytics firm says those batteries would do more good for the environment put to use in more hybrid vehicles rather than fewer all-electric cars. Per kilowatt-hour of battery capacity produced and installed in plug-in vehicles, hybrids deliver 14 times the benefit in emissions reductions that pure electric cars do, according to British analytics firm Emissions Analytics. In European terms, the company measures the grams of carbon-dioxide saved per kilometer of driving, per kilowatt-hour of battery installed in the car. The company considered 153 cars, including 59 conventional full hybrids, 7 mild hybrids, and 57 plug-in hybrids, and compared them to a theoretical electric car with a 60-kwh battery pack. It included vehicles in Europe and in the U.S., and showed even bigger benefits to drive on electricity in the U.S. than in Europe because gas cars in the U.S. are relatively less efficient than those in Europe. The average mild hybrid across Europe and the U.S., with a battery pack of 400 watt-hours, saved almost 30 grams per kilometer of CO2 emissions, or about 74 g/km per kilowatt-hour of battery. Full hybrids cut more CO2 emissions, but also had much bigger batteries averaging 1.3 kwh. Each kilowatt-hour of batteries installed accounted for a reduction of only about 51 grams per kilometer. The metric is key in an era of scarce materials. One of the biggest criticisms of plug-in hybrids is that they carry around a lot of extra weight (and use a lot of unnecessary materials in manufacturing) to include a gas engine and fuel tank that are seldom used. The same argument can apply to the large batteries in long-range electric cars. The cars aren't driven any differently. On average, cars still get driven less than 30 miles a day. Allow some extra battery capacity for driving in cold weather, running the heater, and having some buffer left when a driver gets home, and they still normally use less than 30 or 40 kilowatt-hours a day. Yet many of today's electric cars have batteries twice that size or bigger to accommodate occasional trips. Any bigger battery than that adds extra weight and accounts for extra material consumption that rarely gets used. Since manufacturers have been building internal combustion engines for more than 100 years, there's no shortage of supplies to make them. But there are increasing reports of shortages in the materials needed to make large lithium-ion batteries for cars. The Emissions Analytics report shows that plug-in hybrids that rely mostly on batteries in their daily driving cycle—the Chevrolet Volt, for instance—saved the same amount of CO2 emissions as fully electric cars in their tests: 210 grams per kilometer. But they required much smaller batteries, just over one-sixth the size. The report comes just as several automakers, such as General Motors, Volkswagen, and BMW are reducing or eliminating their efforts to...
  • IoT Can Give Your Retail Business a Competitive Edge. Here's What You Need to Know.

    IoT Can Give Your Retail Business a Competitive Edge. Here's What You Need to Know.

    Whether you’re an entrepreneur with a retail startup or the head of a traditional global corporation, you've likely seen first-hand the increased challenges of today’s brick-and-mortar retail environment. The headlines here keep coming: Gap recently announced it was closing 230 retail stores, right after J.C. Penney, Victoria’s Secret and Payless ShoeSource shut the door on thousands of their own store locations. Clearly, legacy retail players are feeling the pressure. Yet brick-and-mortar retail isn't dead: It’s just ripe for disruption. Seeing success are retailers like traditional chains Target and Best Buy, as well as newer players like Allbirds. Even digital native retailers like Casper, Glossier and Warby Parker are opening brick-and-mortar store locations, following the “clicks to bricks” trend. What do these successful businesses have in common? Their leaders have seen the future in terms of customers shopping both online and in-store, which has led them to focus on an omnichannel customer experience. But retailers need a way to seamlessly integrate their in-store experience and digital presence. And that brings us to the internet of things. In fact, IoT is the technology that can bridge that gap. Why should retail entrepreneurs care about IoT? The omnichannel shopping experience is crucial to retail success in 2019. Some 73 percent of shoppers in one survey said they use multiple channels, according to a study reported in the Harvard Business Review, and the more channels those shoppers use, the more money they spend. While many brands have focused on the online shopping experience over in-store experiences, retail leaders are realizing that today, customers want both. IoT technology -- which collects data from smart, wifi-connected devices -- is changing the data game for brick-and-mortar stores. IoT can enrich physical retailers with data in the same way that ecommerce retailers have historically had access to data through tracking "cookies" and demographics. This is because IoT paves the way to new types of data from new sources, including in-store traffic counters, kiosks, inventory tags, even customers’ mobile phones. Below are a few of the important ways retail leaders can achieve their business goals and enhance the customer experience by applying IoT technology. Give customers real-time product information while they’re in the store According to Yes Marketing, 57 percent of shoppers polled said they used mobile apps while in stores; and that fact offers retailers the opportunity to use IoT to deliver a seamless in-store and in-app experience. Lowe’s, for example, offers an in-store navigation app that allows shoppers to find products in the store more efficiently, using their mobile phones. Similarly, Sephora’s mobile app becomes the Store Companion tool when a customer enters the store, providing product recommendations based on that user’s profile and what he or she has previously browsed. Beyond assisting customers in finding ...
  • 10 Green Principles For EV Sustainability

    10 Green Principles For EV Sustainability

    Recently published guidelines could help ensure that new battery technologies are sustainable and environmentally sound. As electrification begins to spread across the transportation sector, the way in which battery systems are developed, manufactured, used, and recycled has a significant effect on the scale of their environmental impact. Growth from just a few percent today to more than 40% of the new vehicle market within the next 10-20 years means that there is a need for a “comprehensive set of recommendations to guide mobile battery deployment and technological development from an environmental perspective.” That was the rationale behind the creation of ten “Green Principles” that were developed by researchers at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability under sponsorship from the national nonprofit Responsible Battery Coalition (RBC). Principle #1: Choose battery chemistry to minimize life cycle environmental impact Develop and select battery chemistry that enhances operational and broader life cycle performance, which ultimately drives sustainability. Principle #2: Minimize production burden per energy service Minimize the production burden per energy service provided by the battery system. Production burden includes material production, manufacturing, and associated infrastructure. Principle #3: Minimize consumptive use of critical and scarce materials Design and production of batteries should minimize the consumptive use of scarce and critical materials, since depletion of materials can constrain continued deployment of these systems. Principle #4: Maximize battery round-trip efficiency Maximize battery round-trip efficiency to minimize energy losses during vehicle charging and operation. Principle #5: Maximize battery energy density to reduce vehicle operational energy Design battery storage with maximum energy density to minimize mass-related fuel consumption. Principle #6: Design and operate battery systems to maximize service life and limit degradation Use charging patterns that minimize degradation by preserving battery capacity and round-trip efficiency. Temperature also impacts degradation. Principle #7: Minimize hazardous material exposure, emissions and ensure safety Exposure to, and emission of, hazardous materials should be minimized during production, use (operation and service), and end-of-life stages of the battery system in order to provide a safe environment for communities, workers, and users. Principle #8: Market, deploy, and charge electric vehicles in cleaner grids Charge EVs with cleaner electricity to lower life cycle emissions. Any grid-vehicle interaction should result in lower emissions, and cause minimum battery degradation. Principle #9: Choose powertrain and vehicle types to maximize life cycle environmental benefits Increasing degree of electrification from ICEV to PHEV to BEV should result in lower life cycle emissions, depending on the grid mix. Principle #10: Design for end-of-...
  • Who wants driverless cars? More of us than you may think

    Who wants driverless cars? More of us than you may think

    Autonomous cars are an increasingly popular topic, but do we actually want them running on our roads? Industry is more than willing to trial them, but what about the consumer? Relinquishing control can be difficult, especially when it involves potentially placing ourselves in danger. For this reason, some people are very concerned about the introduction of autonomous cars. These vehicles are often described as a form of science fiction, and constitute a source of both fascination and dread. This is evident in extensive media coverage of the small number of serious crashes to date, regardless of the party responsible and more than a million other road crashes around the world each year that go largely unnoticed. There have been instances of driverless cars being bullied by humans who feel the need to exert dominance over these vehicles that have been programmed to acquiesce to other road users. Despite the hype, what do most people think about the prospect of autonomous vehicles becoming the norm? Our national survey of more than 1,600 Australians of driving age showed that only 23 per cent were negative about the widespread use of autonomous vehicles, while 37 per cent were in favour. The remaining 40 per cent described themselves as neutral. Non-drivers were substantially more enthusiastic than drivers, perhaps because of the increased mobility they could enjoy in a world where they can use cars without needing to drive. Consistent with similar studies conducted in other countries, males and younger respondents were more likely to have a positive reaction to the idea of driverless vehicles becoming the norm than their female and older counterparts. There is the potential to substantially increase the proportion of people in favour of autonomous vehicles through information provision. Results from the same survey showed that when asked to spontaneously list the benefits of driverless cars, around one in five people anticipate fewer road crashes but only tiny numbers envisaged other important benefits such as enhanced mobility of the elderly and disadvantaged, safer conditions for cyclists, and reduced emissions. There is thus the opportunity to cue people in to what life could look like once transport is much more accessible for all and our roads are safer. For example, when subsequently presented with a list of possible outcomes, around three-quarters of respondents agreed that these vehicles could assist the elderly and disabled and around half agreed that they could result in lower emissions and safer conditions for cyclists. Publicising these potential benefits could increase overall receptiveness to driverless technology while providing an important counterpoint to the sensationalised media coverage received by a small number of crashes. As we approach the time when autonomous vehicles will be available for use on our roads, it will be important for these kinds of positive messages to be disseminated to provide road users with a more balance...
  • Time to Take 'Hippocratic Oath' for Engineering

    Time to Take 'Hippocratic Oath' for Engineering

    To develop smart cities that serve people, planet and society, engineers might consider adopting a Hippocratic Oath for Engineering to guide their work. Cities are becoming smarter as we add sensors, extract and combine data, and optimize processes. Smart cities promise to improve our lives with more comfort, services, safety, efficiency, connectivity. Transport might become instantaneous and flawless. Energy could be used and produced as efficiently and sustainably as possible. Crime might be detected when or even before it happens. Cities might run with ease because processes become interlinked. People may not have to worry about spending too much money or doing taxes, because the city takes care of it for them. Our every need could be met through micro-advertising based on emotions, (predicted) behavior and buying histories. Although technology has the potential to offer lots of benefits, we might want to be smart about what we build and how we do it. As pointed out in this EE Times article entitled, "Wanted: the Human Side of Technologies," there might be a side to smart cities that we should not overlook. Shaping technology, which is becoming more and more ingrained with our environment and our lives, is something that should not be done lightly. People, nature and society need to be at the center of the decision-making process yet are often forced to take a back seat when engineering decisions are made only from technical, business, economic or governance perspectives. In the heat of things, the undervalued, implicit and invaluable parts of life are easily overlooked or discarded. We might end up with cities that are too one-dimensional for life. Shared responsibility Shaping and applying technology should be a shared responsibility. An ethical practice and open collaboration can help us to develop smart cities that serve people, nature and society and their future. Engineers have a duty to consider the consequences of their work on every level possible. Do we perhaps need a Hippocratic Oath for Engineering? A city is more than its buildings, shops and streets. It comes alive from the people in it. Great cities can make people come alive too, just like nature, a great book, education, family or something wonderful can. People live their lives full of dreams, successes, doubt, failures, mistakes, contradictions, spontaneity, dilemmas, thoughts, learning, sorrow, joy, et cetera. With a smart approach we might cater to this full spectrum of life. Imagine a smart city that helps you to grow and learn in a natural way. Maybe public spaces provide subtle interactions that help people to feel happy and calm. How about a smart city that stimulates people's creativity and acts as a shared stage for people to share and mix their art. Imagine streets that help you stay healthy and fit. Think about public spaces that stimulate meaningful conversations between strangers. How about sidewalks that help you discover your city? Imagine a smart city that ada...
  • How and why electric vehicles will change the way cars look

    How and why electric vehicles will change the way cars look

    Once a novelty, electric vehicles (EV) have moved into the mainstream thanks to high-profile companies like Tesla and best-sellers like the Nissan Leaf. These cars are feature-packed and technology heavy, but the innards aren’t the only part of the car that’s changing. These cars look different on the outside too. The changes to the inside are driving some of those made to the exterior. Electric power requires fewer moving mechanical parts but requires more electronic parts. To account for these changes, vehicle designers are reimagining what a car looks like, and what a car can do. While many of these changes are evolutionary, some are quite revolutionary, too. Grille-less fronts, ‘frunks,’ and sensor-coated bumpers It’s easy to spot an EV approaching you on the road because the front end of electric cars looks different from gas-powered vehicles. Fewer moving mechanical parts are needed in an EV – and in most cars a majority of those parts are found up front within the engine bay. All that freed up behind the front wheels is available for use elsewhere. “With added freedom in the absence of an engine up front, we can expect manufacturers to get really creative in complete redesigns of the front end,” CARiD product training director and former automobile engineer Richard Reina says. One of the most noticeable differences between electric and combustion engine-powered vehicles is the elimination of the grille. Electric powered-cars require far less ventilation than is usually required for a radiator. While these cars still need to ventilate heat, it’s nowhere as much as that produced by a traditional combustion engine. It also doesn’t require oil lubrication, which means designers can eliminate a large portion of lubrication systems as well. Reina thinks that this could lead to more EV manufacturers adding a “frunk,” and providing additional storage space in the front of the car. But could cars lose their front ends altogether? Some might. Look at Volkswagen’s prototype bus. Other companies like Toyota are also planning EVs with smaller front ends. The bumper itself, and its importance to the car, will also change. With more autonomous driving features becoming more common, the front bumpers (and rear bumper) will be positively lined with sensors. Side view mirrors will also disappear or shrink considerably, replaced instead with cameras (if the law finally allows them. With LED light technology improving, the big headlights of the past will also morph into small slits or dots, perhaps built into the hood or front bumper. On the inside: Roomy and tech heavy The elimination of moving parts will also allow EV manufacturers to increase the size of the interior of the vehicle without the need to increase its overall size. This will mean plentiful legroom for all passengers, as well as a large trunk. With autonomous driving taking over during the next decade, the standard front-facing seating arrangement could very well be no more. Since the car is dr...
  • How has 5G changed our lives?

    How has 5G changed our lives?

    It’s still too early to experience the real benefits of 5G. Current 5G deployments are limited to just a few neighborhoods in the largest cities, and even there it’s difficult to find a stable 5G signal. None of the truly transformative changes in tech thanks to 5G are possible with such spotty coverage. You won’t be waiting too long. The major wireless carriers all expect to have a sizeable number of customers on 5G networks by 2025, and the tech industry is already developing next-generation technologies to take advantage of an always-on, super high-speed connection. What will this future look like? We spoke with close to a dozen futurists and technology entrepreneurs to get their predictions on what 5G will look like in the year 2025. From smart cities to smarter homes, to significant advances in artificial intelligence — a lot is about to change. SMARTER CARS Our cars will become smarter, as they’ll be able to ‘talk’ with one another and these traffic management systems at large. Expect by 2025 to have fewer ‘cars’ on our city roads,Adoption of self-driving vehicles, 5G, robot taxis, and a growing gig economy will combine to change how we see cars. The cars that do remain on the road will have more sensors than ever. These sensors won’t just help you park, stay in your lane, or avoid accidents anymore. With 5G, they’ll be interconnected. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities which will all make driving safer, quicker, and less stressful. SMARTER CITIES AND SMARTER HOMES Traffic congestion is worsening as cities grow. Statistics show that average commute time continues to increase, and will continue with more cars on the road. There is a significant need for traffic management, according to experts. Robust 5G services may soon enable decidedly futuristic-sounding applications. A.I.-assisted traffic management systems and just-in-time communications will transform the way we move within our cities. Such a system could theoretically make traffic jams a thing of the past. Artificial intelligence would help manage traffic on a regional level. 5G and A.I.-enabled traffic control together could proactively adjust speeds on highways to keep cars moving or automatically divert traffic around incidents. Cars entering the road could be metered, helping to control traffic flow. Going further, smart power grids will improve energy efficiencies, and improved security systems will keep us safer than ever before. The bandwidth requirements for these applications are far too high for existing network infrastructure, but small cell technologies may soon enable a veritable world of possibilities. Smart homes will also get better. Bandwidth has always been an issue. By addressing the coverage issues that happen with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other communications technologies, 5G allows more devices to go online. FASTER SPEEDS ON YOUR PHONE 4G’s fast data speeds jump-started the app revolution. It’s still not fast enough to handle truly data-inten...
  • New Smart Memory Controller, Breaking Through the Memory Bandwidth Bottleneck

    New Smart Memory Controller, Breaking Through the Memory Bandwidth Bottleneck

    Microchip's new SMC 1000 8x25G serial memory controller enables CPUs and other compute-centric SoCs to utilize four times the memory channels of parallel attached DRAM within the same package footprint compared to DDR4. The SMC 1000 8x25G enables higher memory bandwidth and media independence for High Performance Computing (HPC), big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning compute-intensive applications with ultra-low latency. The SMC 1000 8x25G interfaces to the CPU via a narrow 8-lane differential Open Memory Interface (OMI)-compliant 25 Gbps interface and bridges to memory via a wide 72-bit DDR4 3200 interface. The product supports three DDR4 data rates, DDR4-2666, DDR4-2933, and DDR4-3200, resulting in a significant reduction in the required number of host CPU or SoC pins per DDR4 memory channel, allows for more memory channels and therefore increases the memory bandwidth available. The SMC 1000 8x25G also features an innovative low latency design which results in memory systems using the product to have virtually identical bandwidth and latency performance to comparable LRDIMM products. The SMC 1000 8x25G combines data and address into one unified chip compared to LRDIMM which utilizes an RCD buffer and separate data buffers. This device is a foundational building block for a wide range of OMI memory applications. These include Differential Dual-Inline Memory Module (DDIMM) applications such as standard height 1U DDIMMs with capacities from 16 GB to 128 GB and double height 2U DDIMMs with capacities beyond 256 GB. SMC 1000 8x25G also supports chip down applications to off the shelf Registered DIMMs (RDIMM) and NVDIMM-N devices. SMC 1000 8x25G integrates an on-chip processor that performs control path and monitoring functions such as initialization, temperature monitoring, and diagnostics. The device supports manufacturing test operations of attached DRAM memory. Microchip’s Trusted Platform support, including hardware root-of-trust ensures device and firmware authenticity and supports secure firmware update. Specifications SMC 1000 8x25G OMI Interface 1x8, 1x4 support OIF-28G-MR Up to 25.6 Gbps Link Rate Dynamic low power modes DDR4 Memory Interface x72 bit DDR4-3200, 2933, or 2666 MT/s memory support Supports up to 4 ranks Supports up to 16 GBit memory devices 3D stacked memory support Persistent Memory Support Support for NVDIMM-N module Support for NVDIMM-N modules Intelligent Firmware Open Source Firmware On-board processor provides DDR/OMI initialization, and in-band temperature and error monitoring ChipLink GUI Security and Data Protection Hardware root-of-trust, secure boot, and secure update Single symbol correction/double symbol detection ECC Memory scrub with auto correction on errors Peripherals Support Support for SPI, I²C, GPIO, UART and JTAG/EJTAG Small Package and Low-Power Power optimized 17 mm x 17 mm package ——Source:Microsemi
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