Smart buildings, connected campuses light the way for smart city infrastructure

Future-ready, converged networks set to boost mobility, safety and efficiency

Sponsored The vision of a smart city is being formed by smart buildings serving as catalyst for practical design and the connected campus as proving ground to understand the infrastructure needed to make it a reality.

Beyond colleges and universities, connected campuses – which are miniature smart cities – include medical and technology parks as well as corporate campuses and airports. For ex-ample, connected hospital-anchored campuses with outpatient facilities and doctors’ offices may enable the use of drones, robots and touch-free technology for improved and efficient operations. Within hospitals, remote surgery requires low-latency applications. Management of car parks can be optimized to enhance drivers’ experience, safety and security.

Connected smart buildings and campuses rely on most of the same network infrastructure elements needed for a smart city – wired and wireless networks, licensed and unlicensed spectrum, and software to manage them. They are building blocks of seamlessly integrated fibre, copper and high-speed wireless networks that combine to form the central nervous system of the city.

Matching the evolution of smart building networks, three consistent needs have emerged in efforts to boost efficiency, mobility and security in a smart city:

  • Mobile connectivity and ubiquitous wireless coverage for network access anywhere;
  • Convergence of disparate networks onto a unified IP over Ethernet physical network layer for simplicity, security, and adaptability to connectivity changes and bandwidth demands; and
  • A future-ready infrastructure foundation to support the still-evolving, ever-growing Internet of Things (IoT) efficiently.

Planned connectedness

Already, a network of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors connected to data centres are generating data that fosters analytics, intelligence and insights for smart city applications and services. An estimated 24.1 billion IoT devices will be connected globally by 2030.

IoT-enabled applications and services such as connected transit and bike shares, smart parking, connected CCTV, smart lighting and smart locks make smart cities, campuses and buildings safer and more efficient to manage. Additionally, cities can monitor air, water and pollution quality to improve public health while smart-home and smart-office experiences help to increase property values and rents, while reducing operational costs.

One of the initiatives poised to shape the landscape of smart cities is the smart lamp pole that serves not only as a streetlight but also integrated with security, networking, power, communications and IoT technologies provided by various service providers.

Businesses that rely on providers of such new services and consumers of data generated from a myriad of connected things require high-quality and reliable connectivity. Broadband infrastructure will increasingly be viewed as a utility like gas, water and electricity.

A resilient, redundant and intelligent network infrastructure minimizes the chances of an unplanned outage and ensures safety, which are also top concerns for utilities.

Following implementations of smart concepts in private sector or enterprise environments, the public domain will equally embrace universal, flexible, and future-ready communications infrastructure.

Smart cities like Singapore, for example, are laying high-speed fibre infrastructure as the foundation of its next-generation nationwide broadband network capable of supporting IoT devices and applications well into the future. This fibre infrastructure extends to converged networks inside buildings – Ethernet or fibre backbone carrying voice, data, video and wire-less traffic. A converged infrastructure also creates opportunities to integrate real estate; IT and building management and facilities applications.

Converged connectivity

Further, demand for ubiquitous Wi-Fi connectivity and the rollout of 5G services and applications in populated urban areas require targeted, localized small cell densification.

This need for higher network density elevates the importance of crosshaul and backhaul, as many smart building applications and services depend on extremely low latency, an ad-vantage only found in advanced fibre infrastructure. Deploying an optimized converged network in advance can help to reduce the net cost of fibre-optic crosshaul and backhaul significantly.

Small cell sites or poles are critical to smart city technology, serving as a hub for cellular service, sensors, cameras and other devices. The sensors, access nodes and small cells must be connected and powered without impacting public spaces. Again, these challenges can be solved by a high-capacity, future-ready converged network built on high-performance fibre infrastructure extending through both public and enterprise domains.

Network convergence clearly removes costly network silos. It creates a unified, interoperable infrastructure that can scale easily and accommodates cellular and Wi-Fi, cloud ser-vices and IoT solutions as well as new devices, sensors and applications as needs grow.

Smart building or campus networks can help the operations or facilities manager to reduce monthly utility expenses, ensure safety and security, and ramp up IoT deployment to im-prove user experience. The IT manager, on the other hand, gains visibility and control to support the OT network while managing a variety of connected devices and traffic.

Integrated connectivity, coupled with reliable power and data, requires fibre and copper ca-bling, Power over Ethernet and automated infrastructure management (AIM) all working together.

Unified management

The AIM integrated hardware and software system automatically detects the insertion or removal of cords for quick troubleshooting. It also documents the cabling infrastructure and enables data exchange with other systems to manage and enhance operational efficiency for each system it touches. Additionally, it automatically generates alarms to alert staff to any unauthorized or problematic events.

Meanwhile, the emergence of intelligent building systems has led to more devices and ap-plications integrated within an enterprise network. Public spaces in a smart city will likely experience a similar trend with the growing adoption of IoT.

This makes reducing operational expenses (OpEx) and deferring capital expenditures (CapEx) for as long as possible a top priority for both enterprises and municipal authorities. To this end, AIM helps to identify underutilized resources and prevent unnecessary investment in additional resources.

Challenged to keep up with a growing number of users armed with multiple and more powerful Wi-Fi enabled devices to stream video and multimedia-rich applications, the City of San Jose in the US replaced its existing municipal Wi-Fi network with high-speed dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity.

The move also allowed the city to reduce CapEx from deploying fewer access points be-cause of their higher capacity. OpEx also dipped due to wireless mesh networking easily expanding capacity and coverage as needed without expensive fibre trenching to access point locations.

A reliable Wi-Fi infrastructure has become essential to the city’s future economic development, attracting new businesses downtown and efficiently delivering and supporting many new city services — from Wi-Fi-enabled parking meters to streaming video.

But smart city projects are technically complex and involves multiple stakeholders, each with unique needs and agendas. Having a partner that can deliver a broad range of prod-ucts and services reduces complexity and risk. Infrastructure needs may include RF and fibre connectivity, cellular and Wi-Fi, converged network management, small cell and back-haul, along with the services and expertise to bring it all together.

CommScope offers these as well as solutions based on Wi-Fi 6, IoT, 5G, FTTX access and Universal Connectivity Grid. In multi-faceted smart city projects, CommScope’s professional services can help to optimize critical network and IT infrastructures and to leverage automation for enhanced mobility, safety and efficiency in the urban community.

All in, CommScope’s unique and broad wired and wireless portfolio is geared to serve your end-to-end connectivity needs in building smarter networks for tomorrow.

Sponsored by CommScope®

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