One of the emerging trends that dovetails into The Sensing City is called Machine to Machine communication (abbreviated as M2M). This is where sensors communicate to computers, and then in response these computers can trigger a response. In buildings for example, a sensor could detect how much heating / cooling is required for each room and automatically adjust it without any intervention.
This is a big deal, and over at the Greenbiz blog, there’s a post that explains why:
Microsoft has been deploying some of these technologies at its headquarters campus in Redmond, Wash., using it as a living lab to explore M2M’s potential. In 2011 it rolled out an initial pilot involving 13 buildings (out of 118 buildings it uses in Redmond). A daily data feed automatically keeps track of building occupancy and other key parameters. Weather and utility information is gathered from third-party providers. The system can predict building energy needs in near-real time, adjusting continually to optimize energy use. Moreover, the system automatically detects faults that wouldn’t otherwise show up until the building was inspected, about once every five years. Microsoft has found millions of dollars in savings, and quick paybacks — in a region with some of the mildest weather and lowest energy costs in the Unites States.