Large-scale IoT-sensor project revolutionizes Chicago

Not long ago, Chicago’s “Array of Things” was only an ambitious IoT project that had just received a $3.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to turn the city into a connected infrastructure through a network of modular sensors.

The initiative is now live as Chicago is working on implementing by 2018 all 500 sensors throughout the city to take pictures, monitor movement and record sound.

The $7 million investment will collect data about the city and its community to help authorities and businesses improve daily life and traffic.

“We can’t even begin to imagine what they are going to do with it,” said Chicago’s CIO Brenna Berman when asked about how businesses or the community will end up using the data collected.

The nodes, shaped like a beehive, play an important role in tracking pedestrian and vehicle movement, in measuring temperature and pressure, pollen, and will even assess air quality based on carbon monoxide or nitrogen dioxide levels, plus many more environmental measurements.

A team of 17 specialists is employed to come up with predictive analytics based on the data gathered and pictures taken. For example, the two photos per second taken at crossroads could help predict traffic accidents by analyzing both the accidents that have already taken place, as well as the potentials.

According to the project’s main investigator, Charlie Catlett, monthly data transmission takes approximately one gigabyte per device over a cellular network. The data is stored in the cloud and he assures the community that their privacy is fully protected.

Although the project will be put on hold in extreme weather and there have been other cities working towards connectivity, the Array of Things is viewed as one of the largest-scale IoT initiatives of the moment.

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