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Realising Smart Cities: A workable strategy

  • 3 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 18 Feb 2021
  • Last modified 18 Feb 2021
Although the idea of a smart city has been well discussed, the current crisis has reignited the need for and interest in its potential benefits. Smart cities can help us respond to situations more effectively and, in turn, protect us and improve people’s living experiences.

The past year has propelled several challenges to the forefront. With local and national lockdowns becoming part of everyday life forcing people to work from home and children having to embrace distance learning, heavy reliance has been placed on information and communications technologies. With such a huge spike in consumer demand, the need for fast, reliable connectivity has become a far more pressing issue than ever before.

Smart city challenges

When we consider what a smart city is, the first thing that comes to mind is a connected city. It’s the creation of an ecosystem that utilises digital technologies and connects applications and services, such as public Wi-Fi in outdoor areas or public transport, environmental services, utilities services including waste management or smart lighting and apps for public safety.

There are many technology hurdles that need to be overcome before we’ll be able to benefit from fully functional smart cities. Crucially, investment into a robust backhaul infrastructure is key, just as building a unified backbone or a connected management layer, which will enable cities to unite the different applications and services each vendor provides.

Equally, funding and alignment between national government and community needs is vital for the success of future smart cities. As is linking existing connectivity structures together, enabling data security, bridging the digital divide, and addressing the current lack of communication regarding the social benefits of a smart city.

The role of mmWave

There is no doubt that robust connectivity will play a pivotal role in our pursuit to a smart city but what has become clear is that the network infrastructure we have now is no longer fit for purpose. With consumer demand for faster, more reliable connectivity on the rise, we need to identify ways of improving connectivity now and in the future.

The advantages of 5G mmWave wireless networking equipment make this technology ideal for accelerating the introduction of real smart cities and towns. 5G mmWave backhaul in particular is the most promising technology that can effectively service the capacity demand required in the future, while also offering the flexibility and scalability needed for a fast roll-out. Such robust technology will make sure that cities become safer and more efficient than they are now.

The definitive blueprint to delivering smart cities

These are some of the trends and issues explored in our new insight paper on ‘Public safety beyond COVID: The definitive blueprint to delivering smart cities’ which has been co-authored by a number of notable industry experts, including Joe Spencer, Professor at the University of Liverpool and Project Lead for Liverpool 5G Create, Ketaki Mangalmurti, Connectivity Technologies Ecosystems Manager at Facebook, Iain Bennett, Director at Community Broadband Network and Nadine Hatto, Technical Marketing Manager at Blu Wireless.

The insight paper argues how smart cities, underpinned by a digital platform that provides connectivity to the city, can focus on ensuring emergency services are operating efficiently and responding in real-time to major crises, including the current pandemic.

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