If the movie Back to the Future was any indicator, by now we should all be traveling around on floating hoverboards and blasting back and forth through time. We know that reality has not come to fruition – yet. Today in the media, we all hear the term ‘smart cities’ tossed around and we nod our heads and think ‘Yes, I know that is coming.’ – but what does it really mean and how do the business decisions that you are making today impact the Smart City of the future? The recent announcement by BlackBerry and L-Spark about a new autonomous vehicles accelerator offers some insight into how the Canadian IoT leader is preparing for tomorrow’s connected world.
What is a Smart City?
The term Smart City has a broad scope but at the center of it is the idea to build a community that leverages information and communication technologies to make things more efficient, streamlined and improve quality of life. There are three key elements that contribute to a Smart City:
- Improved communications technology
- The Internet of Things (IoT)
- Increase in available data
Imagine a city with public wi-fi areas, integrative public transportation streaming, tap and pay parking spots, autonomous public transportation, libraries that offer online services, live air quality monitoring – the possibilities are infinite as long as your network is ready to handle the demand.
Frost and Sullivan has predicted that by 2020 the smart cities market will be worth $1.5 trillion.
A Smart City is a Connected City
As cities grow, they have been integrating new technologies at a dizzying pace. As these innovations make life easier for city planners and citizens, the new services are often only as good as the quality of their link to the Internet. With more integration between these various systems, and with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), cities will need to adopt a flexible yet robust network infrastructure to keep up with the demand. Martello’s technology, chosen by BlackBerry as part of its accelerator program, maximizes network uptime across all sites, while prioritizing the applications and types of traffic that matter most.
Building a Network that is Smart City Ready
So how do you keep a Smart City up and running? The most important step is to set up a business continuity plan and build a rock-solid network infrastructure that includes:
1. Failover and Availability
The key to network performance lies in bandwidth and technology diversification. By using multiple different links from various providers, municipal institutions can avoid being sent back to the Dark Ages. With devices such as Martello’s Link Balancers, all connections can be used concurrently. If one of them goes down, the traffic is immediately redirected to other available paths, preserving active sessions. In the event where a municipal data center goes dark, it’s possible to redirect the traffic to alternate resources such as mirrored servers, either physical, or in the Cloud.
2. Application Control: Security and Uptime
One of the key success factors for a Smart City is to provide dedicated applications and city-wide public Wi-Fi to citizens and travelers. Distributing traffic across multiple sites improves performance, but there’s a limit to what the entire network can handle. This is when controlling what’s happening on the network becomes more important.
Safe Private Networks – Private municipal data and public Wi-Fi sessions shouldn’t share the same network. Find a solution that allows you to split the network into airtight compartments, preventing any leak from one to the other.
Promote City Applications – While cities can’t guarantee the quality of cellular networks, they have more control over the quality of their public Wi-Fi. Using a network performance solution like Martello’s allows you to set priorities for internet traffic. Limiting unwanted traffic or giving priority to city sanctioned applications (e.g. Live bus schedules, snow removal coordination) will give you more control over the quality of public Wi-Fi in smart cities.
Emergency Dispatch Services – Much in the same way, Martello’s technologies can prioritize real-time communications by relying on the company’s extensive experience in unified communications (UC) performance management. This is critical for emergency response, where dispatch centers rely on uninterrupted and stellar communications.
As technology accelerates, expectations for network performance skyrockets. While autonomous vehicles driving around on city streets might still seem like the stuff that you see in movies, the reality is that this is coming much faster than most people realize. Taking the time now to establish a rock-solid network infrastructure will mean that as the demands of Smart Cities grow, your network will be ready to handle it.
Interested in finding out more? Book some time with our enterprise network experts – let them help you put together the solution that will transform your network.