Much like cars and homes, cities are also getting the smart treatment. Major urban centres around the world like London, New York and Singapore are pushing for increasingly connected city infrastructure which integrates Internet of Things technology to help empower citizens through better contact with government, as well as reduce costs and resource consumption.
However, while much attention is focused on the end vision of a truly connected city, an often-overlooked detail is how these new smart infrastructure projects and systems will be managed and held together.
A smart city is powered by a multitude of devices, sensors, connectivity paths, network nodes and gateways which deliver both critical and non-critical services to respective communities (for example, services that may involve traffic management, energy consumption, or waste management). These complex networks and the connected devices they support must be maintained at a level of robustness that provides consistent, reliable communication.
The bottom line — smart cities must be built using smart (and resilient) networks. Ensuring that networks are meeting operational performance standards (i.e., are up to the task) is crucial otherwise how do you know if the connected infrastructure is being maintained properly or is delivering services the way it should.
Wired or wireless – it doesn’t matter, it all needs to be tested. According to Gartner, in three years, 10% of smart cities will be using streetlamps as the backbone for a smart city WAN. And at the same time, much of the connectivity that powers smart city devices will also come from mobile networks; not to mention that smartphones themselves will play a pivotal role in smart city applications. Put another way, the routine network testing and monitoring performed on today’s mobile networks should also factor into any wider smart city deployment plans (we’re talking about controlled, rigorous benchmarking).
To put it all into perspective — testing helps a city’s managing authority catch any faults before they impact critical city services such as emergency, energy and environmental services. Thus, network testing ought to be considered now as part of the planning process, as smart cities simply cannot succeed without proper network benchmarking. Those in charge of connected city deployments and management must ensure that a sound, rigorous monitoring process is in place to enable measurement, evaluation and intelligent investment decisions.