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article imageQ&A: What does the future hold for smart homes in smart cities? Special

By Tim Sandle     Jun 11, 2018 in Technology
There is plenty that is banded about in relation to smart homes, but is this concept limited to an array of voice activated gadgets or does the smart home of the future promise something more? A leading expert in smart technology explains more.
Digital Journal recently reported on the Toronto Waterfront smart cities initiative. With this Sidewalk Labs, the company owned by Google's parent Alphabet, is to develop Toronto's Eastern waterfront into the first 'digital city' (see: “Mixed reactions to Toronto's waterfront becoming a 'digital city'”). However, cities don't have to be big to be smart. In fact, homes and properties are the foundation of what it means to be a smart city.
A smart city is a term that is open to different interpretations. One commonality is the use of electronic data collection sensors to supply information, and where the data collected is analysed and used to manage resources throughout the urban area. Examples include traffic and transportation systems, utilities (like power plants and water supply networks), law enforcement, and a host of information led community services.
To discover more about the smart city concept, Digital Journal spoke with George Tsintzouras, who is the CEO and Co-founder, Alert Labs.
Digital Journal: What does the smart home look like?
George Tsintzouras: Marie Curie, the French Chemist and Physicist said, “science is at the base of all the progress that lightens the burden of life and lessens its suffering.” Smart leak and flood detection technology is the product of such progress. It eases the burden of life and lessens the suffering caused by water damage, the number one home insurance claim in Canada. No smart home is complete without sensors that safeguard against high water bills and water damage.
DJ: How can smart technologies help manage the home today?
Tsintzouras: Economists often use the example of technology to illustrate that the standard of living has increased for the average person. And they’re right, for the most part. A wealthy person in 1920 would have had to deal with the headache of looking after a fleet of service staff to run their estate.
But motion sensors, smart thermostats, and real-time water monitoring sensors can easily be installed by a homeowner today to provide them with unprecedented cost savings and convenience. For example, the average leaky toilet wastes more than $900 a year. With smart water flow sensors, leaks like this are detected almost instantly just by looking at water usage - a feat that simply wasn’t possible years ago.
DJ: What does the smart home for the future look like?
Tsintzouras: The future smart home will be the foundation of the future smart city. As sensors continue gathering data, algorithms will become more powerful and valuable. The property owners and city facility managers of the future will be proactive, not reactive, and able to deal with water problems that will be predicted based on data-driven calculations.
Imagine knowing seven days in advance that a sump pump will need servicing in order for it to function properly during a forecasted thunderstorm. The future smart home will be the ideal of sustainability with all resource-intensive processes operating at maximum efficiency. Cities such as Guelph and Vancouver are already taking steps to realize conservation goals. The smart home of the future will truly lighten the burden of life and lessen its suffering.
George Tsintzouras is a co-founder of Alert Labs. The company, based in Kitchener, Ontario, develops smart-home technology devices which optimize water use, aiming to lower the costs associated with water damage and to improve conservation efforts in homes and businesses. Tsintzouras discusses the water conservation technology for the smart home in a follow-up Digital Journal article, see: “Interview: The smart home and water conservation.”
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