IoT leads as Verdict lists the top five terms tweeted on future infrastructure in Q1 2022, based on data from GlobalData’s Construction Influencer Platform.

The top trends are the most mentioned terms or concepts among Twitter discussions of more than 150 future infrastructure experts tracked by GlobalData’s Construction Influencer platform during the first quarter (Q1) of 2022.

1. IoT – 1,396 mentions

The role of the Internet of things (IoT) in intelligent transportation systems, how digital twins and IoT help in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and Rogers Business launching new IoT solutions for smart buildings, were some of the popular discussions in Q1 2022.

Kirk Borne, chief science officer at IT services and consulting company DataPrime, shared an article on how IoT can be used in intelligent transportation systems. Experts believe that IoT will bolster smart traffic initiatives and enable the development of smart cities. The technology can optimise urban transport systems in real time making them smarter, safer, energy-efficient, and sustainable, the article detailed. Several countries such as the US, UK, and Singapore have been able to leverage IoT in their intelligent transport systems (IoT-ITS).

Some IoT use cases include reduction of traffic congestion in urban areas, and automation in the railway, airline and marine sectors. Furthermore, the use of sensors and autonomous vehicles is enhancing the capabilities of IoT to develop smarter roads by enabling communication between infrastructure and vehicles. Beacon (Bluetooth Low Energy) and LoRaWan (a wide area networking protocol), for example, offer new possibilities in vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication systems that support communication and transfer of data between vehicles on the road, the article highlighted.

The term also trended in a discussion shared by Glen Gilmore, principal of consulting and digital marketing firm the Gilmore Business Network, on how digital twins in combination with broadband and IoT can help in reducing cost and GHG emissions in the building sector to alleviate climate change. The building sector is focusing on reducing GHG emissions, as buildings account for 40% of the emissions, and building operations account for 28% of the emissions. Investments in sensors, 5G and  IoT devices that offer interconnectivity and real time data are key to deploying digital twins, the article detailed.

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Furthermore, the use of digital twins will require private and public partnership at the local, state and federal level. A significant digital twin model demonstrating public and private collaboration is between the City of Las Vegas and Cityzenith, a software enabling zero-emission buildings platform, and Terbine, an IoT services and digital infrastructure management company. The digital twin model utilises Las Vegas’ existing IoT sensors and 5G network to collect real-time data that is used to make informed decisions regarding energy use, emissions, traffic, and emergency management.

In another tweet, IoT specialist Matt Hatton shared an article on Rogers for Business, the enterprise-focused segment of telecommunication company Rogers Communications, launching new IoT solutions for smart buildings and cities. The article detailed that the new IoT solutions add to the company’s existing IoT portfolio and will help in improving the efficiency and response in water, parking, traffic, transit, and fleet management. New smart buildings solutions were also introduced with advanced technologies in security, air quality, and digital signage solutions. Rogers is also working with the industrial IoT technology start-up Ayyeka for smart water management that provides real-time updates on water and wastewater infrastructure. The company has also partnered with Cleverciti, a technology company providing high-tech solutions for smart parking, to cut emissions and traffic congestion, the article detailed.

2. 5G – 1,342 mentions

Enabling flexible and future-proof 5G transport network, smart city in Sunderland to use 5G OpenRAN and 5G Packet Core solutions, and 5G supply chain diversification in the UK, were some of the popular discussions in the first quarter.

Antonio Grasso, founder and CEO of consulting company Digital Business Innovation Srl, shared an article on how digital services of the future are requiring new 5G capabilities such as end-to-end (E2E) quality of service (QoS) in throughput, latency, device density, reliability, and availability. The article detailed that network designs should be future proof to ensure the smooth transition to 6G, while technologies such as packet and optical technologies can be effectively combined to meet the radio requirements of low latency and high throughput.

The 5G transport network should offer a high level of availability and resilience apart from being programmable to offer flexibility. A fundamental change is required in the current wireless and optical networks to guarantee the extreme performances, according to the Innovative Optical and Wireless Network Global Forum (IOWN GF). The forum introduced the concept of an All-Photonics Network that includes optical technologies at every level to facilitate ultra-low power consumption and ultra-high speed processing, the article highlighted.

Helen Olsen Bedford, joint founder and publisher of a digital communication channel UKAuthority, shared an article on a smart city infrastructure planned to be developed in Sunderland, UK, using Open RAN (radio access network) technology. The article detailed that the infrastructure will be powered by network solutions provider Mavenir’s MAVedge system that includes 5G OpenRAN and 5G Packet Core solutions.

The MAVedge system will provide 5G connectivity to the local community, while ensuring the secure distribution of private networks and facilitating a digital marketplace of applications and devices to meet various requirements. Built on cloud native virtualisation techniques, the solution is expected to provide a scalable network with open standard interfaces. The new network will thereby support the emergence of more smart services, while enabling the development of smart homes, and new applications for the automobile sector. It will also offer remote connectivity for distant learning, the article highlighted.

In another tweet, Dean Anthony Gratton, a technology influencer, shared an article on the UK government supporting the diversification of the 5G supply chain in the country. The UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for instance, has allocated funds for UK-based vendors to combine their products and services into an operational distributed unit (DU) component capable of deployment in 5G networks. Telecommunications equipment company ADVA is one of the partners to receive the funding and is essential to the 5G DU-Volution project, which aims to ensure ubiquitous cellular connectivity in the UK by 2027. Furthermore, telecommunications companies such as BT, Scotland’s 5G centre, the University of York, and UK-based software companies AccelerComm and CommAgility, are currently engaged in the 5G Diversification Project. Initiated at the beginning of 2022, the diversification project aims to secure and expand the telecom supply chain in the UK.

3. Autonomous Vehicles – 1,249 mentions

The launch of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft Jetson One, and unmanned vehicles delivering packages around cities in China, were some of the popular discussions in Q1.

Harold Sinnott, a digital consultant and technology influencer, shared a video on the launch of the Jetson One personal eVTOL aircraft by Swedish aviation and aerospace component manufacturing start-up Jetson Aero. The aircraft can be flown by anyone and does not require any pilot experience, according to the company. Weighing 86kg, the aircraft is equipped with a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensor at the bottom, and uses software that limits and regulates the airspeed based on its surroundings, the video demonstrated. The aircraft can also control the speed of its descent to avoid harsh landings and can fly at a maximum speed of 101km/h. Equipped with battery cells by automotive company Tesla, the aircraft can conduct a 20 minute flight.

In another tweet, Mike de Waal, CEO of AI-driven group insurance procurement technology platform Global IQX, shared a video on China’s second-largest ecommerce company developing autonomous vehicles to deliver packages across cities in China. The video detailed that the self-driving cars are powered by high-level autonomous driving system. The cars load packages from the local delivery station and carry them on the routes and addresses mentioned on the packages. The customers need to use a verification code to receive their packages.

The autonomous vehicles use cameras and sensors to track their surroundings and are even able to comprehend traffic signals and obstacles, the video illustrated. The vehicles can travel up to 50km on a single charge. The makers are aiming at deploying more than 100,000 of the vehicles in the next five years, the video detailed.

4. Sustainability – 101 mentions

A road that allows electric vehicles (EVs) to automatically charge as they drive, the growth of the 3D construction market, and the need to improve transportation to achieve sustainability, were some of the popular discussions in Q1 2022.

Glen Gilmore shared an article on the Israeli-based EV company Electreon Wireless working in collaboration with automobile manufacturer Ford and energy company DTE to build a 1.6km-long road in Detroit that will enable electric cars to charge while they are driving. The company announced that the road will be fully operational by 2023, after EVs are installed with a special receiver. The roadway is expected to charge EVs in motion or stationary through a process called inductive charging, which allows a magnetic frequency to transfer electricity from the metal coils under the road to the special receivers in the EVs, the article noted. The state of Michigan is looking to contribute $1.9m towards the project. Electreon stated that it has already deployed the infrastructure in Israel, Italy, and Sweden.

The term was also discussed in an article shared by Antonio Vieira Santos, social media business evangelist at the technology company Atos, on how 3D printed architecture could spur a new revolution in the construction industry. The worldwide 3D construction market is expected to grow at 91% between 2022 and 2028, the article highlighted. Experts believe that 3D-printed architecture can offer eco-friendly and affordable housing than brick-and-mortar construction. It could also be used to construct quick shelters in disaster-hit regions, the article detailed.

Furthermore, 3D-printing technology enables the development of housing at scale by using robotics, software, and advanced materials. The automation process also helps ease the current labour and productivity crisis in the construction industry, while providing better, faster, and affordable housing. The 3D-prinitng company WASP, for instance, built a 3D-housing model, called the Tecla, which is a sustainable 3D-housing model built from local raw earth. Similarly, DUS Architects and printing company Aectual introduced the Urban Cabin, which is a 3D-printed mini retreat, the article noted.

In another tweet, Carolina Rudinschi, co-founder of an IoT-focused digital media outlet IoT World, tweeted on the need to ensure sustainability in transportation. The article detailed that transportation accounted for almost one-fourth of the emissions, with 45% of the emissions coming from passenger travel, 29% from road freight, and the remaining from aviation, shipping, rail, and other sectors. As a result, there is an urgent push to improve transportation by governments and businesses, in order to reduce the lost productivity through traffic congestion and to help people travel more efficiently, the article highlighted.

Sustainable transportation is possible through several initiatives, such as electrifying transportation, infrastructure, and vehicles. It can also be made more sustainable by making multimodal transportation more convenient and environmentally friendly by improving the efficiency of urban travel, apart from improving the sustainability of air travel and airport functioning, the article noted.

5. Smart buildings – 96 mentions

Smart buildings ensuring a balance between efficiency and tenant comfort and satisfaction, and the ways to make smart building local area networks (LAN) more secure, were some of the popular discussions in Q1.

Yves Mulkers, founder of a data management firm 7wData, tweeted on how smart buildings can balance automation and efficiency, as well as tenant experience and comfort. The article detailed that smart buildings are equipped with sensors to track everything from temperature to an equipment that may need repair. Experts, however, note that such smart technology can lead to unhappy tenants if not deployed correctly.

The article detailed that 80% of new construction includes at least one aspect of IoT or other related smart building technologies. The key to balancing the two is data-driven automation, which may be used for lighting, elevators, security, and other facilities. Automation can save building managers from the need to constantly change different controls by automatically adjusting heating, cooling and other aspects based on building analytics. It also ensures that the buildings are running more cost-effectively and are profitable for the owners and investors.

In another tweet, Craig Brown, a technology expert, shared an article on best practices for making smart-building LANs more secure. Smart building hacks can happen in numerous ways, such as intruders taking control of the lights, heating, and air conditioning, either through a phone, browser, or the protocol used by the IoT devices. Smart building controllers can reduce the risk of smart devices being used as entry point to access LAN, but they should be both chosen and managed carefully, the article highlighted.