Why the network is the cornerstone of smart cities

Research by Gartner predicts a 30% rise in connected “things” to 6.4 billion devices in 2016. These machine to machine (M2M) devices, networked into the Internet of Things (IoT), are starting to appear in urban, industrial and city environments – from security cameras and utility-monitoring sensors, to ticket barriers at stations and healthcare equipment in hospitals. All these applications require the support of 24/7 network availability that ‘knows’ what’s happening, so how can today’s network environments handle this?

Let’s take security as an example. We are all aware of the heightened security concerns in major cities and the need for reliable and interruptible security feeds. Installing devices, such as IP cameras and security sensors, at key assets and infrastructure across an urban area is straightforward, but the challenge is two-fold. Firstly, guaranteeing continuous, real-time communication – these data feeds need high availability networks and cannot be subject to limited capacity.

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In the event of partial network failure, intelligent routing has to be able to mitigate the impact while ensuring critical assets remain operational

Secondly, how to ensure a consistent Quality of Service by effectively prioritising the right users, devices and application data for uninterrupted high-priority communications.

To address these issues, there are now ‘smart’ network switches, or in other words application aware switches, that carry and deliver data across Application Fluent Networks. These switches have the added value of being able to prioritise users, devices and applications depending on the situation – normal day-to-day or emergency.

Of course, network infrastructure needs to be capable of enduring challenging conditions such as outages, heavy demand, changing temperatures and harsh weather. But in the event of partial network failure, intelligent routing and prioritisation have to be able to mitigate the impact while ensuring critical safety and security assets remain operational.

Departments responsible for the transport links in a city can leverage M2M connectivity to create smarter transportation systems – this is IoT in action.

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Urban traffic management can be handled far more effectively by analysing conditions and traffic flows. But gathering data multiple times a second from thousands of roadway and transport sensors, CCTV cameras, vehicle detectors, weather stations, signs, ramp meters, traffic signals, and other devices all relies on connectivity – and connectivity relies on the network.

But collecting the data is just one connectivity issue. It is of little value unless you can connect with public displays and user devices to inform travellers of road conditions, events, and incidents and keep the transport network flowing.;

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