Network Infrastructure is Crucial for Smart Cities Projects

Network Infrastructure is Crucial for Smart Cities Projects

As smart city projects take place all over the world, having good network infrastructure in place makes adoption much easier. “Smarter cities are enabled by technology that is more available with a lower price point and the ability to handle the Internet of things,”said Dave Bartlett, VP of Industry Solutions for Smarter Buildings, IBM. “Connectivity is placed in every physical object in cities. Look at smartphones and what they are able to do today, such as streaming live video. Cell towers went from transmitting voice data to multimedia, which sometimes create a big backhaul of data that is available at everyone's fingertips.”

A smart city does not necessarily fit in a single category. “Arguably, how a city uses strategic information to engage its citizens; enhances its amenities for greater public usage; creates buzz to boost its tourism, commerce and trade; and coordinates and deploys resources efficiently and effectively would give us a better sense of a ‘smart' city,” said Boon Chin Tan, MD of the Regional Competency Centre (Public Safety) and Senior VP of Government Solutions Business Unit for APAC, NEC Corporation.

As safe cities evolve beyond city surveillance, security management platforms are being used for other applications. Surveillance helps achieve citywide goals with more data that is not necessarily for security, such as watching for how many cars turned left or right, rather than crimes. Smart-city success will require more security technology and services.

The physical safety and security (PSS) of cities face challenges. “Organizations and cities need PSS programs designed to address traditional crime and violence, but also sophisticated terrorist attacks and natural disasters,” said Faiyaz Shahpurwala, Senior VP of Advanced Services and Emerging Solutions, Cisco Systems.

Security provides multiple benefits to city management. “For insurance claims, if someone falls on the curb and files a lawsuit, the city authority is liable for certain issues,” said Dave Gorshkov, CEO of Digital Grape. “With security in place, you have validation of who did what. The savings on insurance and frivolous claims are an immediate cost benefit and a quantifiable ROI for using security systems.”

Modern systems support change in a targeted manner. “Video technologies will be used for monitoring public space which assists in preventing crime and protecting people,” said Erika Gorge, Communications Manager, Bosch Security Systems. “At the same time, they can be used to steer traffic in a more efficient and thus more eco-friendly way. Automated video systems can simplify trade and economic processes and therefore enhance the work flow and business profits.”

Hikvision Digital Technology successfully went from making DVR cards to implementing smart-city projects. It won a $1.2-billion smart-city project in Chongqing, Sichuan Province, marking a renewed position as a system integrator. This transition was not only lucrative, but indicates that physical security has a place at the “smart” table.

Security is opening up to a whole new world. “We are not just here to control access or to apply video surveillance,” said Maarten Mijwaart, GM of Automatic Vehicle Identification, Nedap. “We are here to ensure business continuity not only by helping manage security risks, but also to facilitate optimal use of the real estate by collaborating and exchanging information with HVAC production or other systems that are operational within the building. The convergence to IP networks and the rise of IT standards that upport system interoperability have supported this trend.”

The new security paradigm emphasizes greater integration. “Another growth area in smart technologies applied to safety is software for the multidisciplinary use of systems, like public-address systems used for wide-area alarms, public screens in the city used for security messaging or security cameras used to extract traffic density, just to mention some examples,” said Maria Ruiz, Strategic Project Manager, Fire Safety and Security Strategy, Siemens Building Technologies. “The benefits are twofold: investment optimization and safety optimization.”

More comprehensive integration enhances coordination among agencies in the event of an incident. “The police, fire brigade and civil-rescue teams can use real-time data from the security and safety management network, accessing it through personal-communication devices like a smartphone or a tablet,” Ruiz said.

“The messages delivered contain not only an alarm notification, but also precise instructions on how to act or detailed status data on graphical and textual mode, depending on whom the recipient is.”

Security is not just about detecting hacking or preventing a virus, but also ensures the right person makes infrastructure decisions for the city. “The worst security breach in the city often isn't malicious; it's the wrong person who executes a command that affects the infrastructure when they shouldn't have had access to that system,” Bartlett said. “With Internet and smartphone accessibility, operators could erroneously perform a command online that affects a city process.”

As humans are fallible, it is wise not to put too much faith in technology. “The security system is just a tool,” Tan said. “What is more important is the actual intent.” Security plays a crucial role in smart cities, helping cities meet their goals. In the next article, we examine smart applications, challenges and upcoming developments.

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