Smart Cities require smart networks

Broadband Internet access will have to become just as much a resource as power, water and clean air

Tags: R&M Middle EastSmart citiesUnited Arab Emirates
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Smart Cities require smart networks Vahid: Linking of mobile networks and WLANs with cable infrastructures will be crucial in smart cities.
By  David Ndichu Published  July 27, 2015

Urbanisation is progressing at a rapid pace. Since 2007, more people have lived in urban areas than in rural areas. By 2050, the urban population will account for 70 percent of the total according to UN statistics and forecasts. In the future, cities will welcome every sensible technology that contributes to optimum living conditions, efficient information processing, cooperative communal life and better communication and education.

Many 'City of the Future' concepts indicate that broadband Internet access will have to become just as much a resource as power, water and clean air. The vision is this: Smart City- a learning city that is intelligent, sustainable and thoroughly networked. In a market study, Navigant Research determined that the number of network nodes newly installed for Smart City networks every year will more than triple – from 16.3 million in 2014 to 54.8 million in 2020.

Based on its industry experience, R&M urges cities to keep several key principles and planning and evaluation criteria in mind anytime they discuss their communication and data net-works or plan construction. These are outlined below.

Smart City evaluation checklist

The transmission infrastructures should offer the greatest possible functionality. This is the first recommendation of R&M. The object is not just to connect computers. For example, cameras, sensors and measuring equipment inside and outside buildings also have to be seamlessly integrated and must be able to communicate with each other over the Internet. Adaptable, application-neutral cabling is the prerequisite for this capability.


There are still no standards for the networking of a Smart City. In the judgement of R&M, the obvious thing to do would be to consistently continue the trend toward Ethernet /IP-based communication and to apply this globally uniform industry standard wherever it is practicable. The advantage: favourable investment and running costs.

Open access will be important for the fibre optic connection of apartments to create fair market conditions for providers. In principle, every possible type of connection for machines, sensors and other users should have an open access design. Standardized, compatible and commercially avail-able connectivity is a must for Smart Cities.

The platforms and connections should be able to be installed and operated intuitively so mistakes can be minimized in installation and especially in maintenance. The cabling systems should have a logical, clearly-structured design. Quick mounting technology should simplify each movement.

Security is another central criterion. Smart Cities should ask how well cabling systems can be protected against operating mistakes, errors, attacks and manipulations. Outdoor products should withstand critical environmental influences and be able to be repaired quickly and without complication following an accident or violent storm.

Good transmission quality is indispensable. A Smart City needs the most reliable network connections because the connectors, cables and distributors often transmit data vital to life. The cabling has to be capable of bridging large distances free of loss and of accommodating a large number of connections

The convergence of the networks is an essential aspect of a Smart City. Support must be given in particular to the convergence of field and mobile, that is the linking of different mobile communication networks and WLANs with cable-bound infrastructures. This convergence facilitates reachability and access to all types of information at any location.

Aesthetic aspects also play a role. Connections and lines should be able to be integrated intelligently in the surroundings. In projects involving the networking of older buildings, people will want cabling systems that can be readily concealed or that require only minimal conversion work

The bottom line

If cities follow these pieces of advice, they can avoid bad investments and lay suitable groundwork for becoming Smart Cities.

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