With new tech and policy center, Verizon highlights IoT momentum

WASHINGTON – A trash can isn’t necessarily something you think of as having heavy power needs. So Bigbelly’s connected garbage and recycling bin – which features a prominent solar panel on the top – seems almost superfluous until you learn what it’s capable of.

The garbage bin can monitor how full it is, compress its own contents as it fills up and send out a dispatch when it absolutely needs to be emptied. This has cut the number of dispatches in Philadelphia, where Bigbelly cans have been installed, from 17 a month to just three.

A Bigbelly solar-powered trash can. Image: Bigbelly
And it still provides enough excess power to double as a Wi-Fi hotspot, something that New York has already started putting into effect.

The solution was one of several featured at Verizon’s newly unveiled Technology and Policy center, which just opened here in D.C. The space offers visitors interactive demonstrations of various Internet of Things technologies and use cases that Verizon powers through its network.

Also included in the center are:

  • Cameras and sensors that provide emergency services with a whole-field view of an emergency situation, like a fire or a dangerous assailant
  • Health sensors to send urgent warnings to medical professionals
  • A mock tractor and drone to demonstrate the use of agricultural sensors
  • A connected, electric, low-speed car (more like a golf cart) that is seeing use on college campuses
  • Supply chain telematics for keeping track of the status of packages
This emergency services dashboard gives team leaders a big-picture view of a situation.
In this demo of a fire, the dashboard includes a map of the area (left), drone footage
of the fire (top middle), alarm data from the building (top right) and biometrics from
firefighters' wearable sensors (bottom). The demo was featured at Verizon's new
Technology and Policy center.

Although Verizon mainly depends on its partners to develop these solutions, Verizon has a shared stake in them as the network connecting all of the “things.” This will be an increasing opportunity – and a challenge – for carriers going forward, as analysts expect to see over 20.8 billion connected devices on the network by 2020.

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The growing number of connected devices will increasingly stress network bandwidth, though many analysts note that the promises of 5G networks indicate they can handle the load.

Verizon has also announced plans to deploy LTE Category M1 by the end of the year, which uses 1.4 MHz of spectrum delivered specifically for IoT devices. Other Narrow-Band IoT LTE technologies are also in development, which will enable carriers to support even more devices.

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