The Living City: fixed SMART urban infrastructure

Buro Happold SMART urban infrastructure

13/09/2013 Written by: Paul Goff Be the first to comment

Typically implementation of physical, SMART city infrastructure refers to the deployment of resilient, fixed and wireless data communications and telecom outside plant (OSP). These OSP assets can be encapsulated within the physical (layer1) and data link (layer 2) layers of the OSI model as developed by the international organisation for standardisation or ISO.

In the context of the SMART city, layer 1 infrastructure incorporates the physical space allocated to cable routes, underground civil infrastructure, street furniture, cellular and wireless antennae and access points (APs), central plant and equipment rooms. Layer 2 infrastructural assets are a little harder to visualise as they are closely linked to network technology and the impact of that technology on the proposed topology, or layout, of SMART city infrastructure.

For example, considerations for SMART city fibre optic infrastructure include the practicability of deploying a point to point (active Ethernet) or point to multi point (passive optical network) topology. This decision has implications for the size, cost and availability of network components  along with determining the characteristics of civil infrastructure and the deployment of cable.

The strategy developed for both layers should be standards based in order to avoid constraining future development of the city’s data communications  through the deployment of proprietary systems. Inevitably the deployment of SMART infrastructure and technology assets within the public realm will require city leaders to consider capital expenditure, tenure, operational efficiency and possible revenue generation. For example city leaders may aspire to deploy SMART systems via an open telecommunications access infrastructure with cabled and civil networks remaining the property of the communities they serve. In this scenario revenue will be generated through the charges raised against incumbent telecommunication operators who will utilise the community owned network to deliver voice, data and video services to the occupants of the city.

Constructing and maintaining an open access telecom infrastructure may prove to be cost prohibitive for many cities and municipalities, however it is important that city leaders consider all opportunities and levels of network ownership, maybe such as allowing other organisations to deploy cabled networks in the city but opting to retain civil infrastructure whilst leasing cable placement within duct space to those organisations.

Alternatively city leaders may opt to deploy higher level infrastructure such as a metropolitan area network (MAN). Such a strategy could be employed where authorities plan to develop a core communications network for the city by interconnecting major municipal hubs such as the town hall, fire stations, police stations etc. utilising city owned, high bandwidth optical links and light wave equipment. By deploying an appropriately specified MAN the city can relinquish practical and financial obligations to incumbent telecom operators for interconnecting city owned buildings. The MAN will also provide the platform required to support the collation of telemetry from city wide services such as transport  and security whilst supporting back haul data traffic generated on municipal Wi Fi located in the public realm.

Finally the implementation of a municipal MAN can be used to provide city leaders with a communications backbone that will enable true SMART functionality through the integration of city wide systems with control rooms and city operating platforms.    

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