The Telcos’ Critical Role in Smart Cities: A Quick Look
Around three quarters of the Australian population live in its 21 largest cities, which generate about 80 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Increasing globalisation and advancing technology indicates that the country’s economy will soon rely on technology-based services for its growth.
Telcos’ Critical Role in Smart Cities
The Australian Government released the Smart Cities Plan in 2016. This plan for building and supporting smart cities defines the government’s vision for productive cities that are based on creating innovation, growth and countless opportunities for jobs.
Smart cities around the world are built around the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is supported by mobile networks. These two major technical components are fundamental in shaping smart cities and defining how they work.
The real scene surrounding smart cities
The concept of smart cities relies on M2M (or machine to machine) communication. Driving is an obvious example – with most people relying on road-based transport to move around the city, many concepts have been designed with connected cars and even autonomous vehicles in mind.
As well as the many features that require static infrastructure like traffic lights to monitor the environment and send information to other relevant parts of the city, connected cars need to be able to communicate with infrastructure in their surrounding environment (through the use of Vehicle to Anything or V2X technology) and with other vehicles (V2V or vehicle-to-vehicle).
This level of sophistication necessary to overcome practical and safety concerns about connected cars means that truly autonomous vehicles are likely to be years away.
However, the large amount of connected infrastructure and vehicles required to allow a connected car to move within a smart city clearly highlights the need for high quality telecommunication facilities that can support not only static devices, but those that need to move from place to place without a reduction in the quality of the network signal.
Telecommunication companies and the networks they offer are absolutely essential parts for the development of smart cities.
The role of telecommunication
Smart cities create environments where the surrounding infrastructure works together to improve the city’s flow and function. From parking meters to traffic lights and an almost unimaginable number of devices in between, smart cities are constantly innovating to help residents improve their quality of life.
Telecommunications companies offer the spark that turns each separate type of connected machine into a united network that comes together to create an intelligently functioning city.
Whether the network used is static or mobile, both devices that remain in one place and others that frequently move around can stay connected and exchange data that allows for the bigger picture necessary to support a large number of residents that live in a region.
In addition to M2M communication, the data generated by these smart devices can be collected, analysed and used to identify how groups of people living in the city are moving and at what times. That allows for city planners to adjust and update their designs based on the real-life behaviours of city residents.
Paying the Price
Not only are smart cities able to help support their residents, they are also a lucrative concept for telecommunications companies, creating a steady stream of revenue as each device needs a network to which it can connect.
There is also plenty of revenue to be gained by taking advantage of new technology – the 5G rollout, for example, has been featured highly in advertising by major Australian telcos and is an essential factor in the successful implementation of smart cities.
With vast and dependable coverage, lightning fast speeds and almost undetectable latency (or ‘lag’), 5G will be the missing piece of the puzzle that many smart city developers need to support the innovations that are absolutely reliant on consistent and trustworthy communication.
The telco that can offer a network that meets the needs of smart cities will find an ongoing source of revenue in the ever-increasing number of connected devices they can charge for network access.
Most of the leading telcos in Australia are currently investing to improve their capacity, speeds and to reduce their latency so that they can meet the expectations and demands of 5G. These same developments will also help to answer the demand of smart cities and their expectations from the network providers.
The telcos that successfully upgrade their systems to offer 5G will serve as a gateway for others to build truly smart cities. Regardless, the networks offered by Australian telcos are absolutely essential for the across-the-board M2M communication needed to support smart cities. As the networks improve, so can technological innovation.
The pairing of telecommunication networks and smart city planners is absolutely essential, and the ideas that are implemented between the two will lead the world as we know it into a connected future.