A Smart City is much more than a trend, it’s a reality that offers tangible advantages for its inhabitants. But they wouldn’t be fully functional without the intervention of WiFi technology. Do you know how do these networks participate in Smart Cities? We give you the answer and bring you an analysis of its current situation.
What is a Smart City?
According to the EIP-SC European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities, Smart Cities and Communities can be defined as:
“A place where traditional networks and services are made more efficient with the use of digital and telecommunication technologies for the benefit of its inhabitants and business. A smart city goes beyond the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for better resource use and less emissions. It means smarter urban transport networks, upgraded water supply and waste disposal facilities and more efficient ways to light and heat buildings. It also means a more interactive and responsive city administration, safer public spaces and meeting the needs of an ageing population.”
In other words, in a smart city, technological solutions are used to optimize urban management, in the pursuit of better living conditions for citizens.
With the growth of Smart Cities, a set of standards was shaped in order to homogenize the concept. In 2016, a project was started by the Secretary of State for Telecommunications for the Information Society (SETSI) and AENOR. This project resulted in more than 20 related standards. These are some of them:
- UNE 178201, which includes the requirements that any smart city must meet.
- UNE 178501, on smart tourist destinations.
- UNE 178202, with the management indicators to be displayed in dashboards.
- UNE 178101-3, for urban transport.
The flows that make up the smart city are fundamentally based on data of different kinds. That’s why the development of WiFi networks is an essential element in the “smart” urban model. Let’s focus on it.
Reality and trends of Smart Cities
Smart cities have been boosted by institutions at all levels. As an example, the European Union has invested more than 1,000 million euros in Smart Cities as part of its Europe 2020 Plan.
Among the community initiatives, one of the most important is WiFi4EU, which provides financial aid to municipalities for the installation of public WiFi networks.
At the Spanish level, the Digital Agenda for Spain, created by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, includes the National Plan for Smart Cities.
“Contribute to economic development by maximizing the impact of public policies on ICT to improve productivity and competitiveness, and transform and modernize the Spanish economy and society through efficient and intensive use of ICT by citizens, companies and administrations.”
We must also consider the existence of the Spanish Network of Smart Cities (RECI), which has almost one hundred members. Private companies also contribute to the development of smart cities with the development of appropriate solutions, as well as consulting work.
Thanks to all this, Spanish cities are among the smartest in the world, according to the Smart City Index, produced by the IMD World Competitiveness Center’s Smart City Observatory and the Singapore University of Technology and Design.
According to this, Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Zaragoza are among the cities with a better perception of the effort made by their leaders to make the city smarter.
To this panorama, we must add the influence of the health crisis. Teleworking, e-commerce, video calls and other factors have emerged to be an essential part of the new city models. This will translate into changes in mobility, new preferences regarding the types of housing, greater demands for connectivity, etc.
Besides, from the point of view of health, the acceleration in the development and implementation of mobility analysis solutions will also be extremely useful for the study in the case of future pandemics.
WiFi networks and Smart Cities, an essential relationship
The permanent, quality and safe connectivity that a Smart City requires make WiFi technology essential. An infrastructure capable of responding to the demands of these scenarios is necessary.
In a Smart City, data of all kinds is generated: road and pedestrian traffic, energy consumption, water consumption, internet, waste management, use of public transport, etc. This requires systems capable of collecting and transmitting all this information in real time to provide an optimal response.
So, a very important part of any smart city is its sensorization, which is the deployment of sensors used to quantify determining variables to know the reality of the city. To this, must be added the need for citizens to access the internet anytime, anywhere.
In this scenario, technologies such as IoT and WiFi are practically mandatory, and they complement each other. IoT sensors and internet access points (external and internal) play an important role in smart cities. These devices will be properly prepared for the environmental conditions of a city (extreme temperatures, dust, dirt, impacts …).
In addition, the development of the recent WiFi 6 standard (802.11ax) and WiFi 6E, facilitates the development of IoT in Smart Cities. WiFi 6 responds perfectly to high demand situations and contribute to the energy saving of the devices, which usually work 24/7.
Besides, this continuous flow of data is improved with solutions that give access to intelligent and automatic management of WiFi resources. Thanks to them, roaming between users and access points, bandwidth, adjustment of channels and frequencies, reaction to incidents and data security are managed in the best possible way.
Applications and benefits of using WiFi in smart cities
As said at the beginning of this article, Smart Cities should focus on providing a higher quality of life for their inhabitants. This is not about applying technologies without a defined goal, but about doing it with strategy and looking for the well-being of people.
This is a summary of the most important contributions of smart cities to the lives of citizens:
- The digital divide will be reduced, as smart cities will provide free and open internet access.
- Companies will improve their business figures. They will know the habits of their potential clients, their preferences, places of greater influx. So, they will be able to offer them the demanded information at the right time and location.
- Municipal services will be improved. Local managers will have a more realistic understanding of aspects such as water supply, garbage collection, poor lighting, traffic conflicts, use of the metro and buses, etc.
- Concerning tourism, visitors will have more accessible information to make the most of their stay.
- Better attention to emergencies and greater security. Now it’s easier than ever to notify a medical emergency or request roadside assistance. In addition, communication between different institutions, such as firefighters and the police, is facilitated.
- It’s responsible to the environment, reducing gas emissions by vehicles and having greater control of air quality.
- An adequate response in high demand events. For example, sports celebrations, popular festivals, concerts, professional fairs, etc. In short, any event with a high number of connection requests in tight spaces.
In conclusion, we can say that the moment for Smart Cities has arrived. Social demand and technological development prove this point. To make your city really smart, at Galgus we offer you solutions for comprehensive management of the WiFi networks involved.
Networks that we have developed thanks to the CHT, will be fast, robust, secure and prepared for situations of high demand. In addition to the intelligent automation of your resources, you will be able to remotely monitor the key elements of the network, allowing you agile and flexible decision making.
Additionally, you will have extra information, such as a record of the network users movements. Location Analytics is extremely useful when it comes to analyzing the behavior of citizens in public spaces or commercial environments. Thanks to this, it’s possible to know better the habits of customers, which is really useful for marketing.
If you think that the time has come to take the leap to turn your city into a smart city, contact us and we will help you make it happen.