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Why Local Authorities are a catalyst for Smart Cities to succeed

Remember the days before the Internet? Scouring books and newspapers to gather information and navigating your journeys with a Road Atlas? As technology evolves, we are quick to forget how much has changed over the last 20 years. 

Nowadays we expect information at our fingertips, for shopping to be available with one click, and we turn to devices to help us with everyday tasks. As the Internet of Things (IoT) makes its break into the market we consider the impact this will have on our day to day lives and how Local Authorities can address the growing expectations of its citizens whilst developing smarter systems to make their services more efficient. 

A commitment to a Smart City and IoT initiatives is a catalyst for positive change for everyone associated with a City.

We believe a successful Smart City should consists of the following three layers:

  • Dark Fibre
  • Wireless Overlay
  • IoT Initiatives

Dark Fibre

A key component to Smart City deployment is a futureproof networking infrastructure. Dark fibre offers a flexible, cost effective platform which can be scaled in line with bandwidth and coverage requirements. Having this core network infrastructure in place provides the backbone for further technology deployments, such as Wireless and mobile network overlays.

Building an infrastructure on a resilient core fibre network that supports wireless and mobile overlay networks will ensure pervasive IP connectivity is available across the whole City enabling the provision of Smart services and solutions.

For the network owner, Dark Fibre is a valuable asset that encourages inward investment, supports multiple services, provides high speed connectivity and has a low ongoing cost.  Another advantage is that a Dark Fibre network can be run as an open access network, enabling other public and private sector parties (such as Health Services, Mobile Telecoms providers) to utilise the fibre infrastructure to enhance the services they provide. For example, Local Schools, Libraries, and Council offices can gain access to one high speed, resilient network.

Wireless Overlay Networks

Once a resilient Dark Fibre infrastructure is in place, Wireless Overlay Networks can be implemented expanding IP connectivity and the Smart City footprint without having to build out Dark Fibre coverage to all parts of the City. Implementing City wide wireless overlay networks allow for additional services such as Public WiFi, Mobile 4G/5G and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) is another type of wireless overlay that can be deployed to support Smart Initiatives. LPWAN is a technology that allows long range communications (up to 10km) at a low bit rate (less than 300-50,000 bytes per second) from low powered battery operated sensors and devices. Some examples where LPWAN can be used is in smart lighting controllers, or city focused asset tracking such as tracking waste bins. Pinacl are deploying LPWAN solutions based on the LoRaWAN standard.

IoT Initiatives

The Internet of Things (IoT) consists of everyday objects – physical devices, vehicles, buildings, wearable technology with embedded software, sensors, and network connectivity; IoT provides the opportunity to build intelligent systems, that can draw information from a range of disparate sources, providing the ability to offer innovative solutions or outcomes. For example, an IoT lighting system can intelligently dim the lights based on localised information. Switching a City’s lighting solution over to LED technology can deliver major savings in energy costs, but by making them IoT smart could deliver an additional 20% in energy savings and a further 42% savings in maintenance costs.

What does all this mean for the Public Sector?

It is important to think of a Smart City infrastructure as a horizontal solution providing common network connectivity that can be used by all the required vertical services and solutions. This approach will ensure there is no duplication in infrastructure investment and it encourages the integration of individual services and solutions leading to improved services, increased efficiencies and reduced costs.

It is also essential that Local Authorities embrace IoT Initiatives as part of their Smart City vison. Smart Cities enable new services to be developed and existing services improved to citizens, local businesses and anyone associated with the City; whether it be through services such as free WiFi, smart lighting, smart parking or access to cost effective high speed communication services.

Local authorities can initiate their Smart City vision by becoming an anchor tenant of a Dark Fibre infrastructure. Installing this Fibre infrastructure will yield a significant Return On Investment over the course of the networks lifetime (25+ years). Dark Fibre network connectivity is not as expensive as you may think, with options to spread the costs over a longer period.

Pinacl offset some of the costs of implementing a Dark Fibre Infrastructure by operating it as an open access network. This encourages other businesses and service providers to offer and deliver services across the network. For example, mobile telecom providers can efficiently upgrade to a 5G network as the Fibre circuit can accommodate the connections to new 5G cells, of which there needs to be many.

How to initiate a Smart City?

To successfully implement a Smart City Strategy, many stakeholders need to be involved. A Smart City will benefit multiple areas, for example, Smart Lighting can substantially reduce the local council energy bill. For a Smart City to take shape you need to break down the silos within local authorities to drive a clear vision across all stakeholders.

Appointing a “Smart City Champion” can aid strategic planning as they have the ability to obtain information from various stakeholders and then build it into an overall vision that is then shared with all parties. A Smart City Plan can be designed with collaboration across departments, and completed with a public consultation to focus on key issues such as transportation issues. 

If you would like to know more about Smart Cities or how Pinacl can help you initiate your Smart City Vison Contact: Alasdair Rettie on 01745 535 300. Or email enquiries@pinaclsolutions.com