The key to making a smart city happen: Networks, infrastructure, and more

The key to making a smart city happen: Networks, infrastructure, and more Joy Gardham is head of Western Europe at Brocade.


Modern life is demanding. Technology has taken us to a new level of connectivity and now we are almost always available. It has never been easier to follow the salient points of your life by organising it online. Whether work-related or personal, we are constantly tempted to update or plan our next move by entering a password and logging back in. Instantly. It is almost too easy.

Businesses have been tasked with keeping up, delivering the products and services required, without compromise. Yet the impatience of modern society has escalated this demand for instant everything in to the use of public services and infrastructure too. Citizens in modern cities, expect that the services they use will be available, instantly accessible and smarter than ever before, matching advancements in technology. Adding to this demand, more people are moving from rural areas into city environments, concentrating populations in very specific areas, providing an additional challenge to city planners tasked with modernising the city.  

It is only a matter of time before such responsive, intelligently connected urban environments become a reality.  The arrival of 5G provides us with the opportunity to completely transform our cities, altering our lives for the better. Conversation on how this will affect the Internet of Things (IoT) has been relentless and for good reason. 2 key areas to transform from this are remote health and city infrastructure.

A smart city sounds very attractive – a highly responsive landscape filled with sensors, intelligent urban systems and services. But how do you implement it? How do you put the pieces together? What do those pieces look like? The key to make a smart city happen lies within the network.

Remote healthcare

Healthcare infrastructure in cities could soon be subject to significant change. With the growing popularity of mobile health apps and wearable technologies enabling to make a ‘remote healthcare’ concept to become a welcome reality, removing the issue of finding patients location when they are too ill to travel. There is already an overwhelming pressure from on the NHS, but with this hospitals will finally be able to relieve stress on healthcare professionals. Patients will be able to use technology to feel more empowered and informed about their own healthcare by monitoring it themselves more closely, whilst care staff will be able to use the data acquired from continuous monitoring to support informed decisions on treatment.

When planning to put these kinds of concepts into practice, network infrastructure has to be a key priority. Without a superior networking solution in place, hospitals could quickly find themselves inundated with more data than they can handle, putting patients at risk when agile decisions are needed. The problem shifts from struggling to cope with growing patient numbers, to struggles with data flows. Patients and care staff could also find themselves frustrated if connectivity is an issue when attempting to send data remotely; the implications of which could be obvious if not given due respect.

City infrastructure

Road infrastructure is one aspect of a city that needs to be given close attention in order to keep city life running smoothly. Thousands of cars on the road at any given time in one location could be a total nightmare if not managed adequately.

The importance of 5G to connected vehicles, a potential solution to that problem, is obvious and well-documented. Lives will be at risk if information is not exchanged quickly enough in all the relevant places. Those ‘relevant places’ could simply mean other connected cars, pedestrians or cyclists with wearables. From a city development point of view, ‘relevant places’ could mean the installation of smart traffic lights that respond to real-time traffic demands, or road signs that respond to variables like weather conditions, road works and other hazards.

However, such innovations cannot be relied upon without a network infrastructure in place that will support 5G demands and exchange information without potentially life-threatening latency issues. 5G could change our roads forever, but not without a network that can keep pace with their need for speed.

From theory to practice

So how can we prepare for smarter cities? In order to achieve true innovation, governments and businesses across all industries need to make sure they have a fast, scalable and secure network in place. Without the sufficient infrastructure to cope with the demands of 5G, cities and their ‘smart’ plans will not be achievable. This will become increasingly obvious to wider city planning as it becomes more crucial to support advancements made on connected devices and the IoT.

It is clear that a system must be put in place by governments and businesses. They need to be adopting a New IP approach – a superior approach to networking that offers a more automated, agile and dynamic range of capabilities based on software and virtualisation. The New IP gives businesses a platform for innovation that means they can change with technology, instead of chasing advancements from ten paces back. It is of huge importance that cities have agile networks with greater performance, in order to increase city management and efficiency but also by saving lives too. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their IoT use-cases? Attend the IoT Tech Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

The show is co-located with the AI & Big Data Expo, Cyber Security & Cloud Expo and Blockchain Expo so you can explore the entire ecosystem in one place.

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