One of the most important aspects of the Smart City concept is the use of intelligence in infrastructure and utilities in order to optimise the flow of resources, minimise energy use, provide accurate billing for domestic and business consumers and schedule structural maintenance. However, the most important challenge in making an intelligent utilities system work is to have the right sort of sensors that will be robust, cheap, easy to maintain and reliable.
So far, the lack of availability of sensors that fill in all the above criteria is one of the main obstacles in the widespread use of intelligent utilities systems. The low cost, reliable and accurate mechanical sensors currently in use for gas, electricity and water utilities are not suitable for smart metering, which needs to be based on electronics and power.
UK development consultancy Sagentia is currently developing on a range of smart sensors that will be ideal for the advancement of intelligent utilities, including in non-contact position sensors, which work by electrical induction, optical sensors that detect fluorescence and colour, image sensors that use low-cost cameras and acoustic sensors for ultrasonic flow metering.
The new smart sensors under development by Sagentia and other companies can play an important part in the realisation of the smart city concept in the near future. The companies involved are currently working in developing these sensors, as well as acting as systems integrators in finding the right market for them. Factory automation is probably going to be the biggest initial market for these systems, with smart cities following on later, and it is also possible that such systems will be in use in the domestic or office environment within a few years.
The entire article can be found on the Engineer website, here.
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