How real-time smart city Wi-Fi solutions will unlock IoT

27th May 2020 by Blu Wireless

In its simplest form, the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to every device connected to the internet. However increasingly IoT focuses on connected technologies that can send and receive data without human input.

This technology, particularly in the case of smart cities, will be revolutionary. That’s because of its power to raise living standards and dramatically cut costs on implementation and roll out. In the past, realising these benefits has proven complex because IoT requires super-fast, reliable connectivity.

But now, real-time smart city Wi-Fi solutions provide the chance to unlock the next stage of IoT. Powered by high bandwidth, low latency mmWave technology, these connections are flexible, cost-effective and scalable.

Making real-time smart city Wi-Fi solutions a reality

 IoT technologies are already in existence, having different degrees of functionality and a range of data needs. For example, a solution for existing low data rate applications is narrowband IoT. However, as this works with long-range connections, it cannot transfer the data rates smart cities require.

On the other hand, IoT applications for future smart cities need city-wide high data rates across short distances. 5G mmWave networks can enable this by providing tailored data rates to specific applications.

This functionality is called network slicing, which guarantees quality of service across all applications connected to the network. Essentially, autonomous vehicles wouldn’t compete with IoT-enabled parking sensors for bandwidth in a 5G-powered smart city. Instead, they would have their own specific bandwidth allowance, guaranteeing consistent and reliable performance.

Achieving this pervasive 5G connectivity for a cost-effective price remains a deployment barrier. But mmWave wireless distribution nodes can be simply and affordably attached to existing street furniture, creating mesh networks which form the backbone of smart city Wi-Fi solutions.

In mesh networks, one node acts as the gateway to a signal, before dispersing the signal to other nodes in the area. These nodes bounce the signal to one another and broadcast it over a wide area. This ensures that high bandwidth, low latency connections are always sustained in real-time.

Applications of real-time smart city Wi-Fi solutions

 These smart city Wi-Fi solutions, powered by 5G mmWave, will transform a wide range of industries and services. Most notable among them are:

  • Public transport & autonomous vehicles
  • Parking
  • Industry 4.0
  • Public safety and security
  • Council services
  • Environment

Public transport & autonomous vehicles

 In a smart city, both public transport and cars hold critical data. This may include information about an upcoming hazard or a congested route, which both vehicles need to communicate about. By transferring that data in real-time, evasive action, improved passenger safety and ensure undisrupted commuter journeys is possible.

The technology providing this data may be a 4K video feed, which requires the high bandwidth, high speed, and low latency connections provided by city wide WIFI powered by mmWave.

Parking

 In congested urban environments, parking can be challenging. And as current parking apps rely on an internet connection to work, their functionality can easily be compromised. This leaves drivers in the same situation they first found themselves in.

However, by combining GPS data with IoT sensors through pervasive and reliable Wi-Fi, drivers will be able to fully reap the benefits of smart parking. Being notified about available spaces in their area in real-time will get them to their destination sooner. That means releasing fewer carbon emissions into the atmosphere and reducing congestion in overcrowded metropolitan areas.

 Industry 4.0

Industry is set to reap the benefits of pervasive real-time. In fact, the myriad of benefits IoT-enabled machinery will bring to this sector are reliant upon high bandwidth connectivity.

These include:

  • Significantly reduced downtime and fewer losses
  • Ramped up efficiency and increased profit margins
  • Optimised quality assurance and reduced waste

Industry is also likely to realise transformative benefits that extend to the wider smart city ecosystem. This may include job creation in strategic or advisory IoT/AR roles.

Public safety and security

Low power, real-time 4K CCTV video data will immensely benefit public safety in smart cities. For example, police will be able to use live video feeds to track the movements of criminals at large. By geolocating threats, the authorities will be able to direct targeted responses, increase efficiency and reduce their costs.

Not only this, but also by combining real-time video feeds with social media, historic data and acoustic sensor data, law enforcement can move towards predictive policing. This entails anticipating the probability of criminal acts occurring according to specific circumstances.

IoT will be responsible for joining up each of these data points and translating them into actionable insights for law enforcement officers. As a result, real-time smart city WiFi solutions will help to keep society safer.

Council services

 In smart cities, predefined schedules will become a thing of the past. Instead, council services will move towards more strategic resource deployment. For example, IoT-enabled sensors inside bins will detect waste levels. As a result, collections will trigger when bins reach maximum capacity.

Similarly, connected streetlights (CSL) will replace traditional bulbs to prevent electricity wastage. These lamps will also dim or brighten to provide an optimised experience for drivers and switch off when they’re not required. Further, connection to the cloud will mean councils can strategically target repairs, rather than needlessly sending engineers to working lights.

But perhaps the main benefit CSLs is their scalability: they will provide the foundations for environmental and traffic monitoring, which will make smarter cities cleaner and healthier to live in.

Environment

 Smart cities will use IoT-enabled sensors to monitor air quality and pollution. A high carbon monoxide reading for example would inform corresponding public health guidance. Moreover, as seasonal data becomes available, public authorities could plan announcements in advance.

Scaling real-time smart city WIFI solutions

Establishing a support infrastructure is crucial to realising the benefits of IoT in smart cities and ensuring public support.

Without that, real-time smart city Wi-Fi solutions cannot be scalable, and may be set back. A cautionary tale worth listening to is that provided by electric vehicles. While their core technology is available, a charging port shortage has slowed progress and negatively impacted public opinion about the technology.

So, to ensure this doesn’t happen to smart cities, 5G networks need to be established with mmWave as their backbone. This will enable efficient and comparably rapid deployment of a reliable high bandwidth network. With this, smart cities will have the foundations they need to succeed and they can take advantage of this technology now.

Discover how Blu Wireless connects smart cities.