A Tale of Many Cities
Cities Must Use Hi-Tech Communications to Compete
The move to a global economy sees cities and regions all competing with each other to attract investment from global corporations. These cities and regions are in competition for talent, investment, businesses and even students. This has led to the emergence of the competitive city as a key concept, with successful cities and regions spending time and resources in developing their own special “brand” image.The World Bank Group report “Competitive cities for jobs and growth: what, who, and how” shows that improving competitiveness improves prosperity for all citizens, with those able to compete successfully seeing significant growth and prosperity for their citizens. However, those unable to compete, risk seeing a drop in the quality of life for their citizens as they fall behind the competition.
All successful cities and regions need to be Smart, and have a number of things in common:
- Smart Transportation: Easy access to high-capacity air, rail and road transport
- Smart Employment: Ability to attract a globally sourced highly skilled workforce
- Smart Education: Innovation and research
- Smart Business Communications: Reliable, high capacity, business communications
- Smart Cities and Smart Living: Attractive, safe, living environment
All of these factors are enabled by a state of the art communications network.
All transportation networks are undergoing major modernization activities. The aim of this modernization is to allow more people to travel; more safely, more quickly in a way that is more environmentally friendly.
A real time communications network is used to provide reliable connectivity between the sensors located on the travel infrastructure (e.g. road, rail, etc.) and the control systems. The communications network can also be used to provide the connectivity between different systems to allow a truly integrated transport network.
Whilst the city/region and work environment itself must be attractive, the most highly skilled employees also want and need to have flexibility to work whenever and wherever they want. An employer (and city) that can offer its employees this agility, whilst maintaining secure access to state of the art technologies and applications is most likely to attract and retain the most highly skilled employees.
An integrated communications network is fundamental to achieving this.
More and more, successful regions and cities need to foster a reputation for expertise and excellence in a particular area. A city/region that has educational establishments at the forefront of certain technologies are likely to attract students and businesses that require this expertise. However, research is not driven from a single institution it requires collaboration from multiple establishments across the globe. To make this collaboration effective, extremely high capacity communications links are required to share vast amounts of data or even share computing resource.
Smart Business Communications
The businesses themselves must be able to gain access to high capacity, flexible connectivity. More and more businesses are demanding a much more agile connectivity model than we have today. In this model they can instantly turn-up connectivity to a new site and then flexibly increase/reduce bandwidth, only paying for what they use. In a modern communications network, integrating access technologies like fixed wireless access, mobile and fibre and techniques like SD-WAN can help with instant access and SDN provides the dynamism to allow for bandwidth on demand.
Smart Cities and Smart Living
The Internet of Things now allows a city to become a much more safe and comfortable place to live, examples include:
- Sensors placed around the transportation network allowing users to be provided, in real time, with the most effective route to a location, including identification and reservation of parking
- Smart lighting allows the lighting systems to be adapted to the environmental conditions
- Smart law enforcement enabled by remote cameras and tracking
- Smart information with augmented reality used to provide users with information about attractions, restaurants etc., including real time translation of signs.
The list of smart city applications is virtually endless. However all the systems are pretty much identical in that they rely on a communications network to provide real time data from sensors in the network to central analytic engines.
Governments now recognize the importance of a countries digital communications infrastructure in supporting this competition between cities and regions. This is why many governments are reviewing their communications infrastructure policies and setting, new, extremely ambitious targets for this infrastructure. For example; the UK government launched the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review in July this year and the Indian government launched the National Digital Communication Policy in June this year.
These reviews focus on an integrated communications infrastructure, with fibre, 5G, wireless and transport connectivity all working together to deliver an integrated communications solution. This integrated approach allows cities and regions to evolve into smart cities that offer smart business connectivity, smart education and smart transportation.
It is clear that a next generation communications infrastructure is required to allow one city or region to compete successfully with another. This competition, with its next generation communications infrastructure, will drive major socio-economic changes that if implemented correctly could act as the catalyst that launches the 4th industrial revolution. By providing the incentives and support to build the communications infrastructure a country, its government and its corporations can decide where, and if, it wants to play in this new game.