ALBANY, NY, May 15, 2017
Smart cities are going to be amazing community hubs that will be more sustainable, efficient, and supportive of citizens.
The concept of smart communities is based on intelligent infrastructure such as broadband (FttP) and smart grids, so that connected and sustainable communities can be developed. However, they cannot be built within the silo structure that currently dominates our thinking; a holistic approach is needed, one that includes environmental issues such as energy-self-sufficient buildings, exchanges for renewable energy and e-cars, delivery of e-health, e-education and e-government services, as well as digital media and internet services.
To date, the easiest path to incorporating these concepts into a smart community has been with the development of ‘greenfield’ residential communities. These projects essentially start with no existing legacy utility infrastructure, and involve the construction of new dwellings capable of incorporating a range of new technologies. Greenfield development sites can be used as test beds and lead the way for other existing communities to follow suit.
How data and information is processed and utilised will be a key to the success of smart cities, which is why developments in big data management, M2M communication and cloud computing are of particular importance to smart city developments. The home automation market has certainly caught the interest of some of the industry heavyweights, with Qualcomm, Samsung and Apple all developing their own smart home automation solutions. Reportedly Google acquired Nest in order to develop home automation offerings also.
With the national broadband network slowly becoming a reality, cities, regions and communities are starting to become involved in developing strategies that will see them taking advantage of the social and economic benefits that the NBN can bring. It is therefore vitally important that communities take charge of the development of their knowledge-based environments. A proactive local government is a crucial element in the deployment of broadband to the point where it can begin to deliver community benefits in education, healthcare, community services, job creation and export. To date the lack of infrastructure has led to very limited action being taken by either state or local government in Australia, which is in stark contrast to events overseas.
Under the current Coalition government councils may have to become more actively involved in infrastructure, especially if local councils wish to become involved in smart cities based on gigabit infrastructure.
M2M and the internet of things
With the NBN and LTE now well and truly underway it is important to look at what will be the real value of this new infrastructure.
The infrastructure that is now being built offers a range of features such as ubiquitousness, affordability, low latency, high speed and high capacity. It will link millions of devices, such as sensors, that will enable us to manage our environment, traffic, infrastructures, and our society as a whole much more efficiently and effectively.
This ‘internet of things’ – other names used include M2M, pervasive internet and industrial internet, is going to be a real game-changer. It will transform every single sector of society and the economy; and it will be out of this environment that new businesses, and indeed new industries, will be born. This is one of the reasons so many overseas ICT companies are increasing their presence in Australia. LTE will take a leadership role in the development of M2M but the NBN is also an ideal test-bed for such developments. A great deal of attention is being paid to cloud computing and the NBN can be viewed as one gigantic cloud.
The number of connected M2M devices will grow to somewhere between 25 million and 50 million by 2020
The connected home covers many areas – from data, video and audio delivery, through to smart appliances, security and home automation. The technologies in these domains have existed and been evolving for many years, but implementing connected home solutions has traditionally been costly and complex.
People are becoming more connected, with an ever-increasing number using broadband, wider and deeper uptake of tablets, smartphones and a range of other devices, and the services.
The ‘broadband connected home’ can be viewed as a fixed location/premises where a number of devices share a connection to the outside world. It is recognised that there can be multiple separate networks within the home, and also multiple points of connection to the internet.
Smart transport systems, or intelligent transport systems, encompass a range of wireless and wired communications-based information technologies that can be integrated into transportation infrastructure and vehicles.
Current intelligent transport system technologies use dedicated short-range communications to transfer data over short distances between in-vehicle mobile radio units and roadside units, that is, fixed point-to-point services. Arrangements to facilitate the use of intelligent transport systems have been developed internationally in the 5850-5925MHz band (the 5.9GHz band). However ACMA still classified this as a medium priority for finalisation, and waiting on international standards has made progress fairly slow.
Progress in the sector has been rather slow and new developments are coming from others wanting a share of the new activities. A large number of smartphone apps are now available for drivers to optimise their trips, become more energy-efficient. Car manufacturers are also using the smart car platform as a possibility for additional (energy) services that can be offered to the marketplace.
Smart infrastructure is also looked at in the context of the NBN, the aim of which is to supply the basic telecommunication infrastructure for a range of sectors, including transport. Special access is provided for utilities in the NBN Act. Smart transport systems may be able to reduce the carbon footprint and energy use across many of the transport industries, while at the same time lowering GHG emissions. The government of the time also announced its Managed Motorways project.
However more government leadership is needed to push smart transport deeper into the market.
A new generation of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) will start entering the market in larger numbers over coming years. Companies such as Ergon Energy and ChargePoint are among the innovation leaders in this market.
Illustration Photo: Brisbane, Australia (Public Domain from Pixabay.com)