What Is a Smart City?

Smart cities are the future, but what are their benefits and how are they built?

Smart cities in a nutshell

According to IBM, “A smart city is an urban area where technology and data collection help improve quality of life as well as the sustainability and efficiency of city operations. Smart city technologies used by local governments include information and communication technologies (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IoT)”. In a smart city there are hundreds to thousands of sensors to collect this data from not just people, but infrastructure as well in order to to improve the city itself. Interestingly enough, National Geographic notes that city workers and civilians could have access to apps that would allow for the improvement of the city’s functioning, including city services; sending and viewing outage, accident, and crime reports; and more.

But what happens when there’s a catastrophe or natural disaster? Cities are aiming to be more resilient in these circumstances, and both smart and regular cities have to develop resiliency in their technological infrastructure. A Resilient Cities Network speaker series accurately described how to develop this: “Proper planning and design of data communications pathways will enable not only reliable and sustainable future-ready data needs but will also provide a multi-use backbone that can provide additional value for a wide variety of life safety and resiliency-benefitting monitoring services for the cities.”

How to build pathways for the future

The city requires optical pathways and infrastructure to be installed in a way that is scalable and flexible to pave the way for new applications as technology advances and to reduce future costs. Resilient Cities Network notes, “Networks that are cyber-secure, dynamic, and designed to maximize future applications are foundational to sustainable and resilient digital infrastructure.”

Funding and the benefits of smart cities

Increased funding can be seen across the U.S. per a Smart Cities Financing Guide provided by the National Recreation and Parks Association, however, the cost of implementing this digital infrastructure is still an issue as well as making sure the services are provided to each community within the city.

Benefits of smart city infrastructure include security, improving life safety, and maintenance or damage reduction of integral assets like utilities.

Fiber is also an asset that is not to be overlooked as it can be used for sensing as well as communication. The advantages of fiber optic sensing include traffic monitoring, warning of events like earthquakes and fire hazards, and much more. For more information on fiber sensing technology, check out this article by Lightwave.

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