Collecting personal fitness data and social "likes" is fueling our well-documented data explosion, but other streams of nonstop data creation are working harder for humanity. These bytes are collected to measure how to continuously improve -- and hence sustain -- cities to make them more efficient, comfortable, and safer. That's an enticing goal fueling the global smart cities services and infrastructure market, which is projected to reach $1,266.58 billion by 2019
Collecting data on the amount of air pollution a refinery emits on a minute-by-minute basis, or video surveillance of a remote stretch of highway far from the nearest police station, can happen efficiently and cost effectively because of wireless broadband. This technology picks up where wired networks end with point-to-point links that carry connectivity over radio signals instead of cables.
By installing outdoor networks of sensors embedded into sidewalks, along with backhaul radios hidden in traffic lights, government and municipal agencies are stretching connectivity to places where wired networks can't go.
Metropolitan IT managers would do well to acquaint themselves with how wireless broadband can be applied in building the smart city of the future.
Traffic management by video surveillance.
(Source: Cambium Networks)
1. Smart traffic safety and management
Every driver or pedestrian's nightmare is getting hit by a vehicle and either not being able to get help because no one else is around or, in the case of a hit-and-run, not being able to find the cause of the accident. Through cameras installed along highways or at intersections that are backhauled to a law enforcement agency, videos of any accidents can be recalled to find culprits. The video also can be viewed in real-time by the police, who can see accidents as they occur, enabling them to react immediately.
On a more routine level, wireless broadband can work to manage traffic congestion, controlling traffic signals and traffic flow in real-time, as they do for the South Carolina Department of Transportation and for the UK national motorway networks.
2. Smart security
For the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, hiring security guards to monitor every building in its largest housing projects was well outside the budget. A cost-effective solution was installing a point-to-point video surveillance network that backhauls video footage from cameras installed in stairwells, hallways, and other hidden corners, so residents feel safer, and criminals can be caught on film any hour of the day.
Wireless broadband's cost effectiveness and flexible architecture over wired solutions also makes this application a prime choice for temporary installations at special events.
3. Smart energy supply
Multiple wireless broadband applications assist with efficient energy distribution. For its smart grid communications infrastructure, Oklahoma Gas & Electric (registration required) is using a combination of point-to-point and point-to-multipoint wireless broadband modules. Its wireless network allows it to read meters remotely and take register reads. Thus residential customers and small-business owners with smart meters are billed only for what they use. This keeps rates affordable and helps them prosper.
Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is another key wireless application that allows network managers, for example, to monitor reservoirs and wells situated far from the community they serve. San Diego is using a point-to-point wireless backhaul solution for its water department to this end.
This is just a taste of what's possible with wireless broadband. With the ability to measure areas where city governments and agencies seek to improve, new efficiencies and a greater level of comfort and safety can be achieved for city dwellers and for those passing through. If you live or work for a futuristic city, I'd love to hear more in the comments section about what's being done locally to enhance the lives and safety of residents.
-- Atul Bhatnagar is president and CEO of Cambium Networks.