Potholes and parking problems could soon be a thing of the past thanks to the Internet of Things.

The flow of data from cars and roads could be utilised to pre-emptively deal with issues before they arise.

That was the view of a panel of experts BusinessCloud brought together to discuss the IoT and its potential applications.

“The IoT will change things exponentially more than ever before in ways that are only limited by imagination,” said Steve Purdham, chairman of Stoke-based 3Rings, a service designed to alert relatives to any changes in an elderly person’s routine.

“There was a study done on an area of a square mile in downtown Los Angeles. They found that 900,000 hours of time and half a million gallons of fuel was being lost by people looking to park a car.

“In the IoT the car knows where it is, where you’re going, what you want to do, where the parking spaces are, whether they’re free, how long it’s going to take you to get to them.”

Dan Warren, Capita

Dan Warren (above), director of group architecture at Capita, a FTSE 100 business process management company, agrees that the potential for improving road management is huge.

“In a smart city view, you don’t anybody reporting potholes because they never occur – you know when the road is starting to degrade and someone goes out and takes a counter measure which means you don’t need a bloke in a van,” he said.

“You just have a better road surface and you maintain it better.

“You might have sensors by the side of the road monitoring the road surface, parking spaces, the traffic, air quality – all of that information is relayed to an analytics platform so you can correlate it all and deal with problems in a much more efficient way.”

However there could be a more eloquent and more easily implemented solution at hand, according to Purdham (below, right).

“You got to think laterally. You wouldn’t need to put the sensors into the road – there are thousands of sensors going up and down the roads every millisecond,” he said.

“The cars themselves will be sending the data which says ‘my wheel has just dropped three centimetres’ – once 10 cars, then 1,000 cars have done that, once you start to scale that up, that creates the knowledge to bring out the man in the van with the tar to flatten it out.”

Steve Purdham, right, and Graham Pearce

Self-driving cars are making headlines in tech circles, but the big data gathered by IoT devices could also be used to improve road safety – or at least emergency response times.

That is the view of Graham Pearce (above, right), head of tech, media and telco across the North of England at tax advisory firm KPMG.

“There is a company in Sheffield called The Floow, which is a telematics big data business. They started with a personal use case – for example, car insurance for a previously banned driver who needs a black box to document their driving habits.

“With the aggregation of all this data from various devices, they realised: ‘We can talk to the police. We know that there’s been a crash. We can summon ambulances automatically. Black spots generally – where are they, what causes them? Can we improve road safety using this data?’

“They can start having dialogues with government or big corporates. They are having brilliant conversations with the insurance companies.”

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