According to the United Nations Population Report – the global population is expected to grow from 7.6 billion in 2017 to 9.8 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. In addition to the expected rise in population is the continued migration from rural areas to urban areas resulting in the creation of huge population centers referred to as “urban agglomerations”, but perhaps better known as “mega-cities”. Therefore, the need to efficiently manage the growing demands on infrastructure, energy consumption and services requires cities to become smarter.
What is a “Smart City”? While there is no single definition, there is a collective view that the objective of a smart city is to use innovation and new technologies to solve every day urban challenges. These challenges include the need to increase efficiency and productivity; reduction in the carbon footprint and improving the quality of life for its citizens across three key areas: Infrastructure (transportation, environmental, energy and water); Human (Public Safety, Social Programs, Healthcare & Education) as well as Planning & Management (Government and Urban Planning). In short, the goal is simply to make existing cities better, more intelligent, inclusive and accessible to all of its population.
Smart Cities take a lot of planning and even more collaboration among entities. Furthermore, the chosen path will vary depending on each city’s stage of development, location, culture, demographics and motivation. Perhaps most importantly, cities must make decisions regarding which verticals and their associated applications to support.
Perhaps the greatest challenge facing most cities is that each department may have its own network to support its services and its own priorities with respect to its evolution. To become “smart” it will be necessary for a city to adopt an infrastructure that will converge these individual, disparate networks to offer seamless intelligent connectivity within and across the different verticals in order for a city to fully leverage its assets and capabilities.
In order to achieve this convergence, most cities will need to implement a single converged IP-based infrastructure that is scalable, manageable and secure; offering support for ubiquitous ultra-broadband and IoT connectivity. By supporting both fixed and mobile access, this converged infrastructure will connect people, devices, machines and sensors to enable advanced services and applications. By leveraging cloud and virtualization technologies, cities will be able to build a more flexible architecture that is programmable and automated; elastic and dynamic as well as open and interoperable; while a hybrid cloud architecture will allow cities to use cloud infrastructure for new applications, while maintaining existing in-house infrastructure in support of the legacy on-premises systems across multiple verticals.
IoT will leverage this converged infrastructure to establish intelligent communication between things. By using sensors embedded in a wide range of systems serving the public — such as a traffic lights, public transport vehicles or parking spaces — IoT technology can report on the status of the system being monitored via the Internet in real-time and enable intelligent, real-time decision-making for an array of services.
To quote a very old television series – “We’ve got the technology to make things better than they were before…” and this holds true for Smart Cities. The challenge will be in its implementation to create an environment that offers continued improvement in how we live, work, and play.
Learn more about how Calix is partnering with HDC in the Maldives to enable its vision of a Smart City and the environment it is seeking to create on the island of Hulhumalé.