- Environment & Infrastructure
- Strategic consulting
- Specialist consulting
- The Living City
- Happold Consulting
Information technology systems deployed within the Living City are designed to provide local government and urban communities with a seamless SMART experience; computers and intelligent devices operating autonomously (and quietly) in the back ground of day to day life. Achieving this seamless experience is the continuity challenge that needs to be confronted by city leaders, urban planners and in some cases the community and individual citizens.
In the UK the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) provides advice and guidance on maintaining secure resilient infrastructure. Elsewhere in the world and in the wake of recent high-profile natural disasters, city planners are beginning to embrace resilience as the new norm particularly for data communications infrastructure deployed in urban environments.
Designing ICT and SMART city systems capable of ensuring resilient connectivity requires a step change in attitudes towards telecommunications infrastructure which needs to be acknowledged (officially) as the fourth critical utility. The extent of telecommunications infrastructure to be encompassed within a SMART city continuity plan should include (but not be limited to):
Effective management of data centres and computer rooms (arguably the fifth critical utility) inside and outside the confines of the city is also vital, particularly with the emerging reliance of private and public organisations on cloud services.
Uptime is a phrase used colloquially (and contractually) in the IT and telecommunications industries where it has always been acknowledged that no system is completely resilient to failure. With this in mind some organisations are beginning to develop proposals and systems that enable individuals and communities to continue to communicate and therefore function within the wider context of the city, even when disaster strikes. One such organisation, the Open Technology Institute, has developed an ad hoc, open networking platform called Commotion which empowers existing Wi-Fi enabled devices (e.g. laptops, smartphones, home wireless routers etc) to network directly and form a distributed (wireless mesh) communications infrastructure. Once deployed within the local community Commotion can even be used to mitigate day to day issues such as broadband poverty through shared internet connectivity as well as maintaining neighbourhood communications during a catastrophic event which may bring about the collapse of other ICT and communications infrastructure.
The physical security of SMART ICT infrastructure deployed within the Living City is every bit as important as the logical or cyber security issues discussed regularly in the media. Issues for telecommunication and computer rooms supporting SMART city systems include:
Issues for street side enclosures and equipment cabinets located in the public realm include:
Issues for civil and cabled infrastructure deployed in the public realm include:
The transmission of SMART city data across cabled and wireless media and associated interfaces should be monitored via network control centres where staff will watch for unusually high rates of dropped data packets along with quality of service issues. Infrastructure monitoring systems should flag accidental or malicious breaks in transmission e.g. disconnected drop and patch cables etc.
Finally the transition from copper cables, the legacy communications infrastructure deployed in most UK towns and cities, to optical fibre doesn’t provide automatic protection against malicious network hacking. Photonic transmission in communication networks still requires encryption to mitigate against the physical tapping of fibre optic cables where access to 1% of light will provide hackers with access to 100% of the data on that network…