Wireless ‘Fabric’ Connects Smart Cities—Easily and Securely

By Atul Bhatnagar   April 17, 2017

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently solicited vision statements from cities across the country and to date has received 78 applications. As stated on their site, many cities face similar transportation challenges; it’s no surprise the ideas encompass increased efficiency, safety, and security. These needs, in fact, go beyond transportation and are common to education, public safety, and overall well-being of citizens and industries. Across many disciplines, the idea of collecting data, performing automated analysis, and rapidly making the best decisions to enhance overall efficiency has immediate and lasting value.

In the coming years, everything that can be measured will be. This includes traffic speed and density, weather related parameters, pollutants, various environmental factors, and indicators of potential threats. These measurements will provide raw data that will be passed to operations centers, where predictions will be generated based on the associated decision-making algorithms. These systems will create informed recommendations and deliver the best possible action to maximize efficiency, security, environmental responsibility, and safety.

To achieve these solutions, millions of sensors will be embedded at strategic locations to provide the relevant information in a seamless manner. An all IP-based wireless network will be the medium of choice, because it provides the flexibility to connect from 2 meters to hundreds of kilometers, with sufficient high-capacity throughput to simultaneously support streaming video, voice, and data applications. Composed of Point-to-Point links, Point-to-Multipoint distribution networks, and WiFi access, these networks can be rapidly deployed in a cost-effective manner to start producing value much faster than wired or fiber infrastructure. Operation centers are able to manage the entire communications system from end to end on a single screen with the Cambium cnMaestro™ management system. 

The Wireless Fabric of Connectivity

Think of the Smart City connectivity and integration as a wireless “fabric”—the weaving together, in effect, of individual threads to create a stronger whole. Already, wireless technology is proven to be reliable, safe, and affordable, able to connect any location and communicate with sensors, exactly where it is needed.

Like any fabric, blanketing wireless coverage will be tailored to meet the needs of the immediate environment. This is done by designing the network to  satisfy demand with an eye on the long-term need to share data across multiple applications. While wireless networks are composed of specialized radios optimized for a variety of applications, network operators must focus on selecting the right technology – which must be resilient and affordable in the near term, and continue to perform as demands evolve and grow.

Does this sound far-fetched? It isn’t! Many of these solutions are operational today, enhancing the connectivity wireless broadband provides to business and residential customers. Around the world, cities are implementing wireless solutions to create a tightly woven and flexible fabric of connectivity:

  • Emergency Communications – In major cities such as Chicago and Cleveland, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) has deployed city-wide video surveillance systems with a wireless infrastructure. LEARN MORE
  • WiFi Connectivity – At public parks, shopping malls, and events, city leaders are deploying high-capacity WiFi networks. LEARN MORE
  • Traffic Control – Traffic control centers are able to get immediate information on traffic conditions and streaming video to dispatch first responders, manage traffic lanes, and alert commuters with automated signs. LEARN MORE
  • Utilities – Electric, water, and fuel industries are able to read meters and conditions, and manage field area networks to optimize quality of service and operation efficiency. LEARN MORE
  • Local Industry – Where a metropolitan area has a dominant business, industrial, or agricultural operation, the wireless network fabric can be tailored to meet the needs of the community. LEARN MORE
  • Rural Connectivity – In sparsely populated areas where wired or fiber connectivity is cost- prohibitive, wireless technology is a proven solution for providing streaming video, voice and data solutions. LEARN MORE

A wireless “fabric” will boost the efficiency and ROI of each application it carries. The all IP-based wireless network shows its value in providing affordable and resilient connectivity applied to solving real-world problems. These Smart City solutions create jobs for many people with expertise in equipment installation, network management, and designing new value added services.    

The network fabric will increase public safety through consistently safe and reliable utility services. Just imagine the possibilities! Stretching the fabric into rural and underserved communities will ultimately be a key contributor to the removal of the digital divide and provide equal access to opportunity for all citizens. Cambium is creating such a wireless fabric—secure and resilient but also affordable. This “wireless fabric” will actually bring the world closer and provide a higher quality of life for all citizens.