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Moscow puts municipal vehicles online to save fuel

The city of Moscow has deployed a unified IoT platform to monitor and control all of its municipal vehicles

Over 22,000 municipal vehicles – including snowploughs, street sweepers and dustcarts – in the city of Moscow are now connected to a unified internet of things (IoT) platform, allowing the authorities to more efficiently monitor and control their activities.

The sensor-enabled vehicles can now be monitored for speed, fuel consumption and operation mode, while an integrated artificial intelligence (AI) engine monitors conditions such as the weather forecast to generate a daily scope of work for each vehicle, and calculate the optimal route selected from a database of route patterns.

The system’s location services run on the Glonass system, the Russian Federation’s version of GPS, to identify each vehicle’s location and assist in route planning.

The city believes the monthly savings on fuel amount to as much as RUB 9.1m every calendar month – equivalent to around £113,000, or the cost of two new snowploughs.

“Navigation and telemetric data accumulated via the unified IoT platform allows profile departments of Moscow government to monitor and control activities of communal vehicles operating in Moscow,” said the city’s CIO Artem Ermolaev.

By a stroke of good luck on the IT department’s part, the new platform was up and running immediately prior to a major snowstorm that struck Moscow at the beginning of February 2018.

“The first days of February brought record-breaking snowfall to Russia’s capital – however, thanks to the coordinated work of the city authorities and the unified IoT platform we could react quickly and resolved the crisis,” said Ermolaev.

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At the start of the month, Moscow suffered a month’s worth of precipitation, with 17 inches (47cm) of snow covering the city over the weekend of 3-4 February.

The IT department turned the severe weather event into a real-world crash test for the new IoT platform as 15,500 vehicles took to the streets to clear 1.2 million cubic metres of snow. No disruption was reported to the city’s bus system.

Data collection

The data generated by the city’s vehicles is centralised via encrypted channels at the dispatch centre of Moscow’s Department of Housing and Communal Services and Improvement, which collects, processes, transfers and stores it.

The data can then be accessed according to the position and level of the requesting official. The mayor’s office and executives of the Housing and Communal Services department have full access, while local municipal authorities and service providers can only access limited amounts of information, specifically on the districts or operations that fall under their remit.

The telemetric data relating to aspects such as speed and engine performance is also being used to allow the Housing and Communal Services department to offer targeted, round-the-clock technical support and maintenance, and get advanced warning of possible breakdowns or equipment wear.

The city also hopes to introduce biosensors to the system to monitor the performance of the vehicles’ human operators – for as long as they have them – and detect signs of fatigue.

As previously explored by Computer Weekly, Moscow is forging ahead with its transition to a smart city, enabled by a supportive city government, and its IT department has been given extensive freedom to test and explore new concepts.

Among the IT department’s other projects are gamification for learning in Moscow’s school system, and the use of blockchain to improve transparency in local politics.

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