Telensa intros smart city platform to tackle cost and trust issues with urban data
UK smart street lighting company Telensa has launched an open data platform for smart cities to collect, protect, and make use of urban data. The city of Cambridge in the UK is the first to sign up.
The initiative, branded the Urban Data Project, is built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. It seeks to overcome barriers of cost and trust, which have so far held smart cities back in their use of data.
Telensa will create a digital twin of participating cities to map how they are used by people and vehicles. The platform will also combine other data sets alongside, including about air quality and noise levels.
Data is collected by ‘multi-sensor pods’ installed on light poles. These include video and radar sensors, which feed into an edge compute platform, running rapid-fire artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to “extract insights from the raw data”. The pods run on Microsoft Azure IoT Edge.
Data from the pods is combined with other city data in the a repository called the City Data Guardian, built on Azure, which enables cities to apply privacy policies, comply with data regulations, and make data available.
Telensa said data would be made available, on the city’s terms, variously to third parties, including in retail, real estate, and insurance.
The company said the cost of single-purpose sensors and moving video data to the cloud had been prohibitive until now; it also said smart-city chiefs have been unable to impose best-practice policies to the data and provide transparency to citizens.
Claire Ruskin, executive board Member for the Greater Cambridge Partnership and chief executive of Cambridge Network, said: “The Urban Data Project is part of [our] innovative approach, helping to create a comprehensive ‘digital twin’, and providing the tools to use the data responsibly with policies that are transparent to our residents. Telensa is a world-class company based in Cambridge and we are very pleased to be able to assess the real use of IoT technology.
Will Franks, chief executive at Telensa, said: “We’ve been busy working with cities for the past ten years, making millions of streetlights smart and turning light poles into sensor hubs. But for us it was always about data, and finding an economic way for cities to take control of their urban data assets.”
Bert Van Hoof, partner group programne manager for Azure IoT at Microsoft, said: “With a shared value of providing infrastructure built on trust, that enables cities to take control of their data strategy, working with Telensa on the Urban Data Project was a natural fit.”