We have heard the stories of how we can adjust the heating and switch on the lights from our mobile phones. We all want the coffee pot that can sense when we get out of bed, fill itself with water and switch on so that we will have hot coffee ready after we shave and shower. However there are a lot more practical benefits to connected homes than that. Simple things like monitoring our energy and water usage, telling us which appliance is using how much power and when, informing us of dripping taps, telling us how much power was generated from the solar panels on the roof and how much was bought from the grid, etc. are all of the basic things that a smart home system can do. And this is aimed at making us optimally manage scarce resources.
The connected home is controlled by the user via a control hub that connects to and communicates with digital devices throughout the household. These devices can range from heating systems to wall sconces to automated door locks to appliances to thermostats to televisions, and more. The connected home is a package of services and solutions that collectively add value for consumers.
The battle for being the heart of the connected home is up in the air. Vendors like Sony (PS3/ 4) and Microsoft (Xbox) are vying for it. In South Africa, vendors like Multichoice and Altech are making a play for it. Internationally companies like Google, Microsoft, IBM, etc. all want it to be them. Telcos are also making a serious bid for this space. And Cities and Utilities are well placed to take the lead in this space – as the basic infrastructure is already there. It just needs to be made smart.
And this is the future direction of utilities or smart cities. However to achieve this, a clear integrated strategy is needed. Something like this does not happen by chance. It has to be driven by a vision for the future. African Ideas helps organisations define this vision and put in place a roadmap to achieve this vision.