Real-World Application of the Internet of Things

Local Cisco employees help grand old European cities become smart cities, too

Back Web Only Jul 8, 2016 By Robin Epley

Imagine picking up your marriage license at the mall, or registering your baby’s birth at a kiosk near the escalators. Seems hard to imagine, right? It’s almost too convenient. But these are realities for one neighborhood in Nice, France, where locally-made Cisco technology is changing the way residents interact.

At this particular French mall, Cisco Systems has developed video kiosks that act as a virtual city hall, says Marc Musgrove, director of the Internet of Things and Digital Industries PR at Cisco in Rancho Cordova. “Any transaction you do at city hall you can do over that video screen,” he says. “They have a team of city hall operators that are sitting [in city hall] but they can be made available to any citizen very quickly with this new technology.”

If you want to register a birth, you can go into the kiosk and talk to someone, get that document printed, receive the receipt for the transaction and be on your way, Musgrove says. This is the real-world application of the Internet of Things, he says. “People are having to think of doing things differently than just the traditional way that you’ve done things for centuries or decades.”

Related: Smart Cities Hinge on Open Data

In Germany, that same Cisco technology is being used to ease refugee medical emergencies. “The city of Hamburg got shipping containers, they put one of these video kiosks in there, and people are running healthcare services for these refugees,” Musgrove says. Doctors can have a translator on the line within two minutes and they can work full-time via video anywhere in the world.

Every industry needs to be thinking about how they can leverage the IoT, Musgrove says, and focus on the process change that will come, so they don’t get left behind. Businesses and governments are much more automated than 20 years ago, he says. “Human labor is being used in a different way because of robots.”

Companies need to analyze information quickly and act on it even faster if they’re going to produce at the same level as their competition. Or if, like governments, they strive for improved efficiency. “Looking at waste collection, for example,” Musgrove says. “It’s a very prosaic industry but we’ve been working with the city of Barcelona.” Musgrove says that if garbage collectors knew a bin was nearly empty, they wouldn’t expend the time and energy to collect the trash until it was worth collecting. “If you knew the bin was 80 percent higher or full, then it justifies sending a truck out,” he says. “So what we’ve done is put sensors on some of these trash collectors around the city and then fed that information back into the central city management system and just changed the way the trucks are routed.”

European cities, he says, may be centuries-old, but they have become hotbeds of innovation for adopting some IoT technologies.

Learn how IoT is impacting the Capital Region in our July cover story, “The Internet of You.” Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll email you when it’s available online.