Barcelona show highlights smartness
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year, Smart City technologies were on display at a scale that was bigger than ever — and more advanced. AT&T and a host of smaller companies worked with the MWC’s organiser, GSMA,…

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year, Smart City technologies were on display at a scale that was bigger than ever — and more advanced.

AT&T and a host of smaller companies worked with the MWC’s organiser, GSMA, to pull together dozens of Internet of Things (IoT) demonstrations.

The advances included taking data from cars on the road to help weather trackers, and augmenting that information with big data.

For example, if a car’s wipers get turned on, that could be automatically transmitted to a database that would know historical cold weather patterns and whether the rain would quickly turn into ice.

Then the data could deliver insights about whether that portion of the roadway is particularly curvy or hazardous in the best conditions. In turn, a road crew, or even emergency crews, might be automatically sent out to the area.

Inrix of Seattle, one of the Smart City vendors, used a large display to show off the many sensors from various cars along such a roadway, with that data supplemented with information from stationary sensors along the road.

AT&T showed an Audi sports car equipped with a dashboard display with the interface controlled from a rotating knob near the gear shifter. The company said it is working with Audi to expand its connected car technology to select Audi vehicles in 2017 and 2018.

AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie said the company has similar deals with nine car makers, putting it ahead of its rivals. “We started early,” he said, to explain AT&T’s success in providing connected device technologies.

The data being transmitted from cars to big data repositories will become vital in coming years, especially as self-driving cars emerge over the next decade or two, analysts said.

Data from a crashed car could be used to automatically activate an emergency response quicker than now. Sensors along roadways will also communicate information to passengers inside driverless cars.

The company has even found interest from real estate firms in using beacons and Wi-Fi inside big buildings and malls to see which areas are being underused or have become crowded. That could make a difference in planning for more space or using space more efficiently.

Sec.Sense of Northern Ireland showed off a $99 sensor that can attach to a person’s bike and be used to communicate information to city officials on potholes or even air quality. The sensor also has Bluetooth connectivity to a bicyclist’s smartphone, so if the bike is stolen while the rider is away, an alarm will be sent to the phone.

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