Realizing the Possibilities of Smart Cities: A Wireless Way

By: Carlos de Lamadrid, Dmitry Okorokov

As the world becomes smarter, fueled by a current industrial age characterized by automation and data exchange, so too does it become more densely populated and metropolitan. Today, 55 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050, this proportion is forecast to jump to 68 percent.

These correlative developments have given rise to a new paradigm for urban living: the smart city. The swelling populations of the world’s cities are aware of the capabilities of today’s technology— like 5G and IoT—and expect their surroundings to be in sync with the possibilities and improvements in quality of life that these technological advancements can bring.

Improving sustainability, increasing security levels, and providing seamless public transport are a few of the many possible benefits of a smart city. One city wise to the potential rewards of pursuing a smart city blueprint is Guaratuba, a coastal city in the southern state of Paraná, Brazil.

The city’s administration faced challenges in implementing a smart city project—challenges not unique to Guaratuba—including the best type of network infrastructure to underpin the interconnectivity of the smart applications.

The smart city case

Implementing a smart city design offers enormous potential return on investment for its population. The ways such an implementation can improve the lives of citizens are innumerable and far-reaching. A well-implemented project can manage technology to improve people's lives and, more specifically, achieve benefits such as contributing to improving the environment, saving costs to citizens, optimizing public services, strengthening citizen security, improving transparency in management of administrations, retaining companies, attracting talent, and improving communication with citizens.

The physical components required make up a smart city—and realize those benefits—can take many forms, all with a function of improving efficiency and sustainability in various sectors. For example, environmental sustainability requires systems that allow energy savings, efficient water consumption, promote recycling, reduce the emission of harmful gases, and promote the use of public and private electric vehicles.

Urban planning, including efficient traffic management, optimization of public transport routes and sustainable infrastructures requires, for example, public lighting systems with LED technologies and cameras with good resolution. For a more efficiently and transparently run administration and government, electronic management systems, online payment platforms, iCloud environments, broadband for mobile phones and free public Wi-Fi are necessary. Additionally, smart video surveillance systems can alert authorities and boost crime reduction initiatives.

And that’s just for full-time permanent residents. Consider the potential for cities that welcome flocks of tourists each year. Guaratuba’s vibrant tourism traffic contributes a considerable slice to the area economy. Therefore, in addition to benefiting its residential population, the pursuit of a smart city plan can mean considerable rewards when the tourism numbers are factored in.

Future-proofing cities and ensuring their sustainability, security and safety not only creates a better living environment for inhabitants but also ensures the area remains attractive to visitors and investors.  

Yet, for these components to operate at an interconnected level—which is what essentially makes them ‘smart’—they must be supported by the correct networking infrastructure. Otherwise, the benefits of the smart city hang out of reach. 

The wireless way

When realizing the many facets of an interconnected city, planners must not underestimate the importance of facilitating the relevant type of infrastructure. Although any smart city relies heavily on its physical components, the services and support networks are equally as important. Why? Without them, these physical components would be obsolete.


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