[Gllug] Smart cities get their own operating system -what underlies the McClaren OS?

Malcolm Blackmore mblackmore at oxlug.org
Tue Oct 4 00:52:43 UTC 2011


30 September 2011 Last updated at 12:23
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Smart cities get their own operating system
Katia Moskvitch By Katia Moskvitch Technology reporter, BBC News
A city Smart cities with devices chatting to each other may dot the
planet in the near future
Continue reading the main story
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Cities could soon be looking after their citizens all by themselves
thanks to an operating system designed for the metropolis.

The Urban OS works just like a PC operating system but keeps buildings,
traffic and services running smoothly.

The software takes in data from sensors dotted around the city to keep
an eye on what is happening.

In the event of a fire the Urban OS might manage traffic lights so fire
engines can reach the blaze swiftly.

The idea is for the Urban OS to gather data from sensors buried in
buildings and many other places to keep an eye on what is happening in
an urban area.

The sensors monitor everything from large scale events such as traffic
flows across the entire city down to more local phenomena such as
temperature sensors inside individual rooms.

The OS completely bypasses humans to manage communication between
sensors and devices such as traffic lights, air conditioning or water
pumps that influence the quality of city life.

Channelling all the data coming from these sensors and services into a
over-arching control system had lots of benefits, said Steve Lewis, head
of Living PlanIT- the company behind Urban OS.
A hospital The system can help with monitoring patients at hospitals

Urban OS should mean buildings get managed better and gathering the data
from lots of sources gives a broader view of key city services such as
traffic flows, energy use and water levels.

"If you were using an anatomy analogy, the city has a network like the
nervous system, talking to a whole bunch of sensors gathering the data
and causing actions," said Mr Lewis.

"We distribute that nervous system into the parts of the body - the
buildings, the streets and other things.

Having one platform managing the entire urban landscape of a city means
significant cost savings, implementation consistency, quality and
manageability, he added.

"And it's got local computing capacity to allow a building or an
automotive platform to interact with people where they are, managing the
energy, water, waste, transportation, logistics and human interaction in
those areas."
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

    That's dealt with by the building itself, with the devices very
locally talking to each other to figure out what's the best solution for
the current dilemma”

Steve Lewis CEO, Living PlanIT
Urban apps

The underlying technology for the Urban OS has been developed by McLaren
Electronic Systems - the same company that creates sensors for Formula
One cars. The Urban OS was unveiled at the Machine-2-Machine conference
in Rotterdam.

To support the myriad of different devices in a city the firm has
developed an extensive set of application services that will run Urban
OS, dubbed PlaceApps - the urban environment equivalent of apps on a

Independent developers will also be able to build their own apps to get
at data and provide certain services around a city.

Mr Lewis said that eventually applications on smartphones could hook
into the Urban OS to remotely control household appliances and energy
systems, or safety equipment to monitor the wellbeing of elderly people.

It could also prove useful in the event of a fire in a building, he

Sensors would spot the fire and then the building would use its
intelligence to direct people inside to a safe stairwell, perhaps by
making lights flicker or alarms get louder in the direction of the exit.

"That's dealt with by the building itself, with the devices very locally
talking to each other to figure out what's the best solution for the
current dilemma, and then providing directions and orchestrating
themselves," said Mr Lewis.
'Magical actions'

Living PlanIT is working with Cisco and Deutsche Telekom on different
parts of the system.
Fire Urban OS might help people escape during a fire

Markus Breitbach of the Machine to Machine Competence Center at Deutsche
Telekom said that his firm was helping to bring all the parts of the
Urban OS together.

"Everybody's talking about 50 billion connected devices, which
effectively means huge amounts of data being collected, but nobody is
really caring about managing it and bringing it into a context - and
Urban OS can do just that," he said.

"If there's a fire alarm on the fifth floor and the elevator is going to
the next floor, the light will switch on - but in addition the traffic
lights will be switched accordingly to turn the traffic in the right
direction so that fire workers can get through.

"And this is what Urban OS is providing, this kind of solution to
analyse mass data, enter it in a context and perform magical actions."

A test bed for the Urban OS is currently being built in Portugal. For
its work in developing smart cities, Living PlanIT was selected as one
of the World Economic Forum's Technology Pioneers of 2012.

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