The last of this year’s Pint of Science Technologies lecture was held in the Odeon’s Bourbon bar two days ago and the theme for the talk was ‘Smart Cities’. Smart cities use digital technologies to enhance performance, reduce costs, reduce resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens.

One of the surprises on the night for me was the first speaker Niamh Scanlon, an app developer who is also a twelve year old genius. Niamh goes to CoderDojo in DCU where she honed and learned her app and web development skills. She is also a recent winner of the Best Individual Project and overall Grand Prix winner for her age group at this year’s Eircom Junior Spiders awards. Last year she also won the app section of CoderDojo Coolest Projects.

Niamh has developed a web app called reCharge My eCar which shows you where the free, public charging points are for electric cars in Ireland, and whether or not each one is currently available for use.
recharge my eCar
When the app was been developed, Niamh contacted the ESB to see if they could provide her with data for the app and their eCar division happily obliged. A mobile app version is scheduled to be released later this year and I look forward to seeing what Niamh will develop next.

Another interesting topic was one that Seamus Devitt covered on the night. Brendan spoke passionately about smart bins in the smart city and how they are becoming more popular. At the 2015 Smart City Dublin hackathon run in the BDRC with Intel, a smart bin project called Bintel won.
Smart bins, are bins with sensors on the top of them that look into the bin to determine how full the bin is and there are two different types of smart bins. There are two different types of smart bins, a normal smart bin and a BigBelly smart bin pictured below.
temple-bar1-binThe normal smart bins use 2 or 3G cellular networks to transmit once a day data to the cloud to a cloud server and the batteries used to power the sensors last 5-10 years as they are nearly always off to conserve the batteries. The data transmitted to the cloud server includes how full the bins are and if the batteries need to be replaced soon. When a bin is 85% full it has to be emptied so they have to try and route their trucks to get to the bins. External antennas are not used as they are prone to vandalism and may also be affected by adverse weather conditions.

The BigBelly is completely self-powered using solar power for 100% of its energy needs, and it has a built in compactor which enables it to hold between six and eight times as much as a normal bin. The increased capacity reduces collection trips, fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. The number of collections can be reduced by up to 80%, and cuts the costs of servicing empty bins. Weekend collections can also be eliminated reducing significant overheads & when using a BigBelly solar street bin, overflowing bins will no longer be an issue.

Smart bins will soon become part of Dublin’s infrastructure and as electric cars start to be sold in numbers that make them more affordable, Niamh’s app will start to gain a lot more users from all over Ireland.

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