Today’s post is the first in a series about how sensors and Big Data are changing the world for the better.
Sensors are everywhere in our lives – from our smartphones to our game controllers to our cars – measuring things as simple as the direction they’re pointing or as complex as gamma radiation. As reported by Wired, the proliferation of low-cost sensor networks combined with affordable access to cloud computing horsepower has inspired a wave of innovations that are making our lives better.
Here are just a few of the ways sensors and Big Data are making a difference:
Preventing natural disasters
Sensor networks are now used to provide early warning of dangerous natural phenomena, including earthquakes, tsunamis, and radiation. For example, our oceans are now peppered with sensor-equipped buoys that look for dangerous changes in wave height. Alerts triggered by these buoys can be used to save thousands of lives by giving people in tsunami-vulnerable areas valuable minutes to move to higher ground.
Smarter urban planning
Finding a place to park is a familiar frustration for city dwellers. The city of San Francisco has been using ultra low power magnetometers for over two years to track the availability of parking spaces in congested areas. Citizens can use a smartphone app to find open spaces near them. The city is even using the parking data for other projects from planning public transportation to measuring the city’s economic health.
Improving public safety
The city of Pleasanton, also in the Bay Area, is using microwave sensors at traffic signals to make it safer for cars and bikes to share the road. The sensors can distinguish between cars and bikes, and adjust the timing of the lights to give cyclists more time to cross the intersection. There are many avid bikers here at Euclid, so we hope similar systems are adopted by more cities soon.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned for our next installment.
Posted by Michael Minar, Analytics Scientist
Photo by Arthur D. Chapman & Audrey Bendus