Our phones and tablets may be used to make cities 'smarter' by replacing costly sensors dedicated to collect data to track health and environment, a study suggests.
By applying a mobile crowd-sensing (MCS) approach, communities may have the capability to transmit the same amount of data, with virtually the same level of accuracy.
Researchers from the University at Albany in the US reviewed the types of smart technologies currently deployed in cities, which break down into two primary categories: dedicated and non-dedicated sensors, the latter being available as a built-in capability in every smartphone.
Most communities use a combination of cameras, microphones, temperature sensors, Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to monitor traffic, weather and energy consumption, according to the study published in IEEE Sensors Journal.
These devices in turn supply data that makes it easier to track utilities, lighting, parking, health and the environment.
"The MCS concept also has known implementation challenges, such as incentivising the crowd and ensuring the trustworthiness of the captured data, and covering a wide sensing area," said Tolga Soyata, from the University at Albany.
"Considering the pros and cons of each option, the decision as to which one is better becomes a non-trivial answer. We conducted a thorough study of both types of sensors and draw conclusions about which one becomes a favourable option based on a given application platform," said Soyata.
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