Cities need to become smarter in order to optimize traffic, waste management, education, social welfare, health or crime fighting. Many technologies are emerging to help city management improve its efforts, and they all have one thing in common: they are highly connected. On top of that, they all have their specific network needs.
In a way, cities are evolving into a public body that has the most impact on the life of people, more than the state or the nation has. Mayors and city councils are better positioned to change the everyday life of their inhabitants than presidents or prime ministers. So, it is no wonder that exciting social innovations are tried and tested in a city environment. Worldwide there are many projects that combine digital concepts such as Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data Analytics, Open Data and Machine Learning into applications that make the life of people and business much easier and better.
Just to mention a few: bicycle infrastructure and systems are underway in the Indian cities Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. In Amsterdam, the app Mobypark allows owners of parking spaces to rent them out to people for a fee. The data generated from this app can then be used by the City of Amsterdam to determine parking demand and traffic flows. In Barcelona, sensor technology has been implemented in the irrigation system in Parc del Centre de Poblenou, where real time data is transmitted to gardening crews about the level of water required for the plants. Barcelona also has implemented smart traffic lights for buses and emergency services, setting through a mix of GPS and traffic management software all the lights to green as the vehicle approaches, allowing emergency services to reach the incident without delay and buses to optimize green lights. In Santa Cruz, California, local authorities analyze historical crime data in order to predict police requirements and maximize police presence where it is required. The analytical tools generate a list of 10 places each day where property crimes are more likely to occur. This allows police to plan ahead, and place officers who aren’t responding to emergencies in regions where crime is likely to occur.
These promising Smart City innovations, created with IoT, Virtual Reality, Big Data Analytics, Cloud and Fog computing, Thinking Machines, Self-Driving Cars and the like – all have one thing in common: they only add value to us all when they are securely and tightly connected. When the digital life lines are cut, these innovations are useless – instantaneously.
We are moving into a hyperconnected world where everyone and everything is exchanging data, and where computer systems assist in decision making. We’re also catapulting into a hybrid world, where specific network technologies support specific applications. Self-Driving cars have a different networking profile than smart led lighting or sensors in waste bins.
What is more, the networks shape the city. Cities in the past were built on riverbanks. Up to now they are built along highways. But in the near future, they will be built based on the availability of optical fiber networks and next-generation infrastructure.
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