The network is the cornerstone of smart cities.

Author:Ragmo, Johan

A cross the world, major cities, from Barcelona to Algiers, from Gujarat to Cape Town, have already started smart technologies to improve quality of life and city services. are foundations for smart cities being laid? Building advanced networking W infrastructure is one of the very first steps that needs to be taken to ensure that smart cities deliver on their promises. Johan Ragmo, Market Development Networks Director, NWE at ALE looks at the benefits and hurdles facing the inevitable growth of smart cities.

Research by Gartner predicts a 30 percent 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?

Consistency and capacity are key to security

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.

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, 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.

Urban networks can't be choosy

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.

Keeping smart...

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