The ‘Internet of Things,’ (IoT) is all around us, every day and everywhere. The boardroom, courtroom, classroom, and coffee shop; wherever you go, people are wearing a smart watch they can use to send messages to others, tracking their activity level with a bracelet, or even using a prescription bottle cap that reminds them when it’s time to their medication. The uses across industries and sectors are seemingly endless and increasingly, governments are taking notice and beginning to explore how they and their citizens too might benefit.
There are many practical public sector applications of the IoT within a community, ranging from smart streetlights that dim at certain hours to sensors in parking garages that connect to a mobile app to assist citizens in finding available parking, and much more. Not only are there different possible applications of IoT, there are many different types of technologies available within the IoT, all of which have different strengths and weaknesses depending on their intended use. To help governments make smart decisions on how best to invest public resources in these promising yet in many cases unproven products, feasibility studies and proof of concepts are critical.
For this project, CTG is partnering with the UAlbany College of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ Signals & Networks Lab, UAlbany Parking & Mass Transit, and the UAlbany Office of Facilities Management to study the feasibility of using ultra-wideband (UWB) technology for public transportation. Ultra-wideband technology is a wireless radio system that uses a small amount of energy to transmit large amounts of data over a wide range of frequency bandwidths, allowing for ranging and localization at the same time. For public transportation, the use of UWB could provide numerous benefits including better tracking of trains and buses, and potentially eliminating the need for turnstiles, tickets or cards, and the need to deposit money or swiping for payment.
However, the concern among any government official is that the advertised potential of technologies such as UWB will not meet the demands placed on it within the context of an actual public transportation infrastructure. These demands include specific levels of accuracy, consistency, and resiliency that are required by the public transportation authorities to ensure service quality, effectiveness, and safety. Therefore governments need some level of assurance that any new technology can meet these requirements before they can consider investing in them. This eight month study is designed to help assess the effectiveness of UWB by using a series of experiments that the project team will test within some of UAlbany’s facilities and transportation infrastructure.