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Smart Cities: A blueprint to success

Smart Cities, Smart Places, Future Cities, Digital Cities – common words you have probably heard or read about and ultimately they lead to the same concept.

Why Smart Cities are becoming the norm?

A commitment to a Smart City is a catalyst for positive change for everyone associated with the city whether you’re a citizen, a business, a local council, Health sector, Education sector or a visitor/tourist.

Supporting a Smart City is a digital transformation from new emerging technologies being deployed… the vision of everything being ‘connected’… not just our smart phones, tablets, and computers, but from your domestic appliances to the street lights across the city – all generating data of some kind, basically – big data.

A Smart City has ideas around using this data, connecting the data and providing the opportunity to analyse this data and take actions or make plans accordingly. This data has the ability to transform services.

 A Smart City with genuine aspirations and a successful strategy in place can deliver significant improvements and opportunities for the local economy and contribute towards inward investment such as reinvigorating the high street.

Councils have a need and desire to e-enable and enhance their services to citizens, universal credit is now totally on-line, communications are becoming the norm as more people use e-mail and social media. 

How Do Pinacl support Smart City initiatives?

Pinacl provide consultancy and deliver the infrastructure which is fundamental to any Smart City, delivering IP connectivity whenever it is required. But it is important not to focus on and start with technology. Technology is an enabler for Smart Cities, it is not the solution!

Smart Cities should start with a vision that all partners and stakeholders should contribute and believe in with a passion. The vision needs to be clear and measurable and aligned with the requirements and aspirations of the city and aim to achieve the following:  

  • Benefit the public and extend the service delivery boundary out to them, simplifying access.
  • It should provide pervasive IP connectivity throughout the city.
  • And the City Data gathered should be anonymised and made available in an open and collaborative manner.

And just as a strong vision is important – Strong partnerships are also key.

The drive to implement Smart Cities is gaining pace.

City Councils now appear to have the appetite for change and can see the benefits of investing in SMART technologies. The availability of UK and European funding has also helped drive this, and the general public are now more technically aware and accepting of new technology. As a result, the public are creating more demand and expectation for SMART services.

With this increasing demand and desire for Smart Cities, the next important step is to develop a Smart City Framework and roadmap with defined phases that deliver clear outcomes.

This work needs to:

  • Understand how the different components within the City operate – who controls and influences them, and how these components interact with each other.
  • Operational engagement and understanding is important. The people currently running the services understand the current inefficiencies and any financial drains. Focusing the technology to address these operational needs is where the real benefits will be achieved.

Using a Cisco term: the “art of the possible” happens when Operational meets ICT.

Developing this Framework/roadmap will identify some quick wins e.g City Wide WiFi that along with delivering stakeholder confidence in the Smart City initiative will also ensure it is firmly on the agenda guiding future developments and investments. This will lead to incremental projects and additional investment driving the digital transformation of the City. 

What do Smart Cities Involve?

A Smart City should deliver real benefits to City Services – the public and also local businesses.

  • Enhanced City services through new ways of working, removing the legacy silos leading to cost savings through improvements in efficiency.
  • Extending the reach of City Services and improving access for the Public (residents, workers, tourists) via web portals and smart apps.
  • Supporting Businesses – offering cost effective high speed communications, providing them with the ability to reach, attract, and better serve their customers. Commercial use of the network – improves sustainability, attracts businesses and inward investment.

Smart City development should start with the Core Network Infrastructure. The core infrastructure doesn’t deliver a Smart City on its own, but without it a Smart City cannot exist.

And ideally that core infrastructure is not based on the out of date legacy telecom model (annual rental on a per circuit/bandwidth basis) – following this model would limit the number of Smart City and IoT initiatives deployed, as a lot of them would not be financially viable if legacy telecom circuits were required.

Pinacl have the expertise in enabling/ providing a City with pervasive IP connectivity. This should be achieved through a Dark Fibre infrastructure with wireless overlay networks – WiFi, 4G and other emerging technologies such as LoRaWan and TV Whitespace.

We also take a flexible approach in how we work with our Smart City Clients:

  • We can build/operate/develop a core network infrastructure as in the City of York, where we designed a dark fibre network 8 years ago, providing the council with a network delivering unlimited bandwidth, and the ability to support multiple City Services all at a fixed cost. We have also deployed City Centre wireless overlay networks within York, extending the council service reach and improving access for the public.
  • We also work with clients to use/develop their existing infrastructure assets. For example Aberdeen Council, where we have provided dark fibre connections using a mix of the council’s existing duct networks and installing new networks also.
  • And as we have done in Newport, we can build, operate, and personally invest, alongside anchor tenants in the Smart City infrastructure. This approach enables us to invite partners and stakeholders to work with us to evaluate Smart City solutions with minimal capital and recurring costs to evaluate emerging Smart City technologies.

We believe, having a robust IP network foundation to support a Smart City project greatly increases the chance for success and the speed of implementation by reducing the barrier for entry, enabling other partners and stakeholders to also invest in Smart City solutions and initiatives. For more information on Smart Cities please email: enquiries@pinaclsolutions.com