New Trends in Smart Cities Include Wireless Broadband

By: Alex Doorduyn
Director of Business Development
Security & Surveillance
Siklu Communication

The smart cities movement in Europe and North America has grown considerably within the past few years, as more and more municipalities invest in their high bandwidth network infrastructure.

This smart cities trend has often times developed because of an initial safe cities initiative to deploy surveillance cameras in public space where large groups of people congregate for shopping, entertainment, and sporting events. All of these are now potential targets for terrorism.  Now city officials recognize the benefit of leveraging the same network infrastructure used to deploy public surveillance systems to also offer other beneficial solutions, such as intelligent lighting, sensors to help monitor and manage traffic and cameras that can monitor the cleanliness of a specific area.

In turn, this development and the increase in public Wi-Fi hotspots and public safety cameras, along with the improved connectivity within public buildings such as schools and libraries, are expected to help fuel economic development and sustain a high quality of life.

The challenge is that with so many services relying on the city network, the network needs to provide enough capacity for all these services as well as to scale up in the future as more connected devices are added. In addition, not every fiber network can easily and economically reach every location that needs connectivity.

Network setup based on millimeter wave systems provides steady multi-gigabit infrastructure cities can rely on, guarantee the throughput required for a virtually unlimited number of HD cameras, Wi-Fi backhaul, and IoT sensors.

For those deploying a smart cities network infrastructure, it’s important to also future-proof the system to ensure the size of the network and its reach can increase at a later date as needs change.

A few examples of safe cities projects, which in the future could develop into smart cities initiatives include Burnley Town Centre, which installed 18 high capacity point-to-point mmWave links from Siklu to deliver interference-free connectivity for 40 newly installed HD IP CCTV cameras.

In the City of Wichita, whose mmWave links connects 72 fixed bullet, dome, and PTZ cameras to protect its Old Town district, its multi-gigabit capacity network can run multiple applications on the same wireless network simultaneously. The city is currently looking at using Siklu mmWave wireless radios for other applications, such as local area network connectivity to city buildings.

For the City of Wichita, the cost to run fiber would have been too expensive. And interference-free connectivity was also a priority. In the future, the city hopes to expand the Siklu system to other areas of the city to help combat crime.

Dover Castle, an 11th century historic England site, recently invested in its high bandwidth network infrastructure. As the largest castle in England, Dover Castle is popular with tourists and sought improvements in its network connectivity to support a number of additional concessions throughout the site. Having to support POS data, internet delivery with public access Wi-Fi, CCTV and corporate LAN extension, they needed a high capacity, robust and perhaps more critically, a small form factor radio link given the limitation of mounting equipment on a historic England site. A number of Siklu EH-600TX™ links are dotted around the castle grounds, most with a camouflage vinyl wrap to ensure the radios blend in with their surroundings.

Around the world, many large cities have begun to invest in a high bandwidth network infrastructure to support more smart city initiatives. This includes London, San Francisco, and Singapore, who are considered to have the most advanced initiatives because they include smart grid technologies, the use of information technology to improve traffic, Wi-Fi access points and smartphone penetration, according to an article by the Internet of Things Institute.

These multiple solutions and services can now sit on the same network, thanks to higher bandwidth, better connectivity options and interference-free solutions, available with millimeter wave wireless. Today there is an increasing acceptance of Siklu’s mmWave technology and people are starting to recognize the benefits our solution provides when compared with installing new fiber or a traditional Wi-Fi-based wireless infrastructure network.

Siklu recently introduced a new solution called MultiHaul™, which uses beamforming technology within a point-to-multipoint network topology which simplifies installation immensely. The solution’s 90-degree scanning antenna auto-aligns multiple terminal units from a single base unit, serving multiple locations while reducing installation times and the total cost of ownership for end users. Technologies like this will help make smart cities possible because the networks are becoming easier to install, cost less and the radio frequency being used for these devices is located on an interference-free spectrum, all while providing multi-gigabit capacity to enable the network to grow with the needs of the city.

Thanks to improvements in high bandwidth network infrastructures, the possibilities for smart cities are endless. Only the future will tell which technologies and initiatives will develop over the coming years.