NB-IoT use cases in smart cities

In this E-Guide:

Narrowband IoT applications offer advantages for smart cities, farms and factory data analytics. However, organizations must still tackle connectivity and security issues.

In this e-guide, learn more about these use cases and find out how to combat security and connectivity concerns. 

3 NB-IoT use cases bring advantages — and challenges

Narrowband and IoT combined can bring out the best parts of both technologies in smart cities, asset tracking and agricultural projects, but NB-IoT use cases have disadvantages.

NB-IoT was developed to support applications that require low-power consumption, long battery life and can be left alone for a long, long time, said Syed Zaeem Hosain, CTO at IoT and M2M technology provider Aeris based in San Jose, Calif. The standards-based technology creates the potential for a wide range of new IoT devices and services.

“Narrowband IoT is a technology that carriers have been working on for 30 years now, but it’s only really caught up over the last couple years,” said Sam Barker, a lead analyst at Juniper Research. “Essentially, it revolves around the concepts of IoT and everything being connected and being able to monitor everything.” 

NB-IoT use cases in smart cities monitor quality of life

In smart cities, NB-IoT technology can monitor air pollution, refuse collection, traffic, smart metering and processes that require small data packets to be sent infrequently to the network center or to an IoT management platform, Barker said. 

But NB-IoT will confront organizations’ connection security. A threat actor could steal data collected from a connection or take over the connection.
Smart cities are the biggest NB-IoT use case, said Ryne DeBoer, vice president of IoT and smart connected products at The Morey Corp., an electronics manufacturing organization in Woodridge, Ill.

“If you’re thinking about creating a smart city, that means you want data analytics or data coming off everything that’s within your city,” DeBoer said. “For example, maybe the trash cans could be monitored for trash to be hauled away or [monitor for] more information around what’s going on with the lighting, water metering or street signs.”

Example of NB-IoT
Example of NB-IoT

The slow throughput of NB-IoT — which is just the nature of the technology — complicates its use for smart city applications, DeBoer said.

NB-IoT works for limited asset tracking

NB-IoT opens the door for more cost-effective asset tracking. The challenge of tracking with NB-IoT is mobility, said Dermot O’Shea, co-founder and joint CEO at Taoglas, a provider of next-generation IoT tools based in Los Angeles.

“You really only want to use it for stationary assets and not something that’s mobile, like a vehicle or something that you think might be moved,” he said. “So, don’t put it in a vehicle and expect to maintain connectivity with it, because NB-IoT is only designed to message at certain intervals. If you’re just using it to count sheep, for example, and you only want the count [once] per day or every two days, then it’s OK.”

In asset tracking, people often want immediate notification if something moves, and they want to know exactly where it is. NB-IoT isn’t good for that, O’Shea said.


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IoT: 3 Use Cases and Challenges


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