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Smart City Technology

Cities across the world are rapidly changing into smart cities. The transition to smart city infrastructure is becoming increasingly attractive to government entities and residents alike, promising to improve many environmental, financial and social aspects of urban living. Across the world, spending on smart city technology exceeded $80 billion in 2016, and current projections show that spending will grow to $135 billion by 2021. The future is well on its way, but what does it mean for cities?

What Are Smart Cities?

There is no fixed definition for what counts as a smart city, but the features of a smart city are very similar. The International Data Corporation, or IDC, defines a smart city as the use of smart initiatives to leverage technology to increase efficiency and share data across a city network. The purpose of this data connectivity is to provide services and insights that can be used by residents and city planners to live within the city, make decisions and shape infrastructures. In short, smart cities are cities that use technology to improve the lives of residents and visitors alike.

How Do Smart Cities Work?

Smart cities rely on interconnected technology to communicate and analyze information. This transfer of data requires a strong technological infrastructure. To achieve this level of interconnectivity, many smart cities use fiber optics instead of traditional copper cable networks. Fiber optics are the basis of how a smart city works, supporting the transport of large volumes of data through high-speed fiber networks. Fiber optics offer such high-speed transfer rates that artificial intelligence, automated alarms and other capabilities become more feasible on a city-wide scale. 

Some uses of fiber optics in smart cities are described in detail below:

  • Communications: Fiber-optic communication systems enable smart cities to communicate effectively with residents. High-speed connections mean residents can access real-time data and interact with it in a meaningful way. These connections enable smart cities to effectively communicate public and commercial services.
  • Public services: Fiber optic technology enables cities to monitor and control public utilities more effectively. Through comprehensive data, cities can watch electricity, sewage and gas utilities and manage them more efficiently to meet the needs of the city's residents and businesses.
  • Security: City-wide surveillance systems provide residents with a sense of safety and security. Surveillance backed by fiber optics enables cities to have widespread surveillance with high data transmission speeds.
  • Traffic control: Big cities invariably face traffic congestion issues. If traffic is not managed effectively, citizens' quality of life can be impacted through long commute times and limited access to services. Smart city fiber optics enable citizens to enjoy more closely managed traffic controls that react to need rather than a fixed timer.
  • Transportation: Not only do fiber optics help with traffic control, but they also facilitate better transportation services. Smart cities can provide consistent updates on public transportation services to those who use them by tracking buses and users. Additionally, cities can learn where to expand or reduce public transportation with ever-changing resident needs.
  • Smart lightings: Fiber optics can be integrated into smart lighting across the city. For example, street lights may contain small cell wireless antennas — this way, the street light provides illumination as well as good, consistent cellular service.

All of these capabilities provide real benefits to businesses and residents living within a city, and the more access and interaction they can have with the network, the better. In many smart cities, the interconnected data is sent to city databases or cloud systems, which can then be communicated to residents through apps or websites. For example, some smart cities provide a mobile app that gives immediate access to data, communications and more. This allows residents to be easily updated on city matters such as traffic conditions, waste management and events.

Why Do We Need Smart Cities?

The world is quickly turning toward smart cities, with increased spending dedicated to related technologies. However, the question that arises is why smart cities are so important. What are the benefits of the smart city concept that makes it so essential to adopt? Here are some of the most significant benefits of smart cities to our changing world:

  • Adapt to urbanization: Urbanization is on the rise. Today, over 50% of the global population lives in cities, and that proportion is expected to exceed 66% by 2050. Considering population growth, this means an additional 2.5 billion people will be added to cities over the next few decades. All cities across the world are currently handling increased urbanization and city sprawl. With these increases in population, it becomes harder for government entities and services to provide meaningful assistance and residents become less aware of happenings in the city as populations swell. Smart cities solve this problem by leveraging data in a way that both civil servants and residents can use to improve efficiency and gain insights into the city.
  • Enhance communication: One of the biggest benefits of a smart city is the improvement in communication between residents and the city at large. With smart city data, residents can communicate, interact with and learn from the city around them, making it easier for them to interact with the city's streets, services and events.
  • Greater utility efficiencies: Smart cities use sensors in a variety of applications, which are particularly beneficial in the management of public utilities. Smart utility grids allow for communication between providers and users to identify outages, usage peaks and other data metrics. Cities that adopted this system saw a 40 to 60% drop in water consumption after adopting smart technology for water utilities. 
  • Reduce environmental impact: Smart cities also benefit the environment in a real way. Smart cities use data to more effectively use water and energy resources. Additionally, energy-efficient buildings, air-quality sensors and renewable energy resources leveraged in smart cities help significantly reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Reduce spending: Technology is generally expensive to implement, especially at a city-wide scale. However, the efficiencies and improvements offered by smart city technology easily offset the cost of installation over time. For example, Barcelona saved €75 million in city funds. Additionally, the city created 47,000 new jobs in smart technology.
  • Increase digital equity: Smart cities provide more residents with access to high-speed internet services and devices. With better, more reliable internet service, more of the population can benefit from digital services, enabling more people to leverage digital services and educational opportunities.
  • Improve quality of life: Ultimately, smart cities are beneficial because they positively impact the lives of people living in them. With greater efficiencies, reduced costs and better access to services, residents can experience better outcomes in their daily lives.

Smart cities make an impact on residents' and visitors' daily lives directly and indirectly, improving every aspect of city living through leveraging high-speed data transfer. That's why smart cities are the way of the future.

Fiber Optic Cables, Closures and More From Multilink

Smart cities now and in the future will rely on high-quality fiber optic cable tools and products. At Multilink, we can provide these quality smart city components backed by experience and expertise. With more than 35 years of experience in creating innovative and versatile solutions for the telecommunications industry, you can depend on Multilink to provide comprehensive fiber optic solutions. 

The Smart Tracker is a prime example of a Multilink product that can aid in smart city development. This remote power manager boasts ethernet compatibility, allowing administrators and technicians to keep track of operating parameters and remotely turn each of its eight independent outlets on or off to save power no matter where they are. Users can also schedule drops or increases in voltage and current, so if they want to power cycle a switch or small server to prevent a truck roll at an intersection, they can from anywhere.

Part 1 in our series of video overviews on the Smart Tracker introduces viewers to hardware and shows how to configure the embedded web page.

The Smart Tracker’s embedded web page also includes options for setting up email notifications for alarms, such as when voltage or internal temperature reaches a user-specified threshold. There is also a full events log tab where administrators can go to see a list of events that the unit has experienced, such as when certain outlets are turned on or off or when a scheduled action has occurred.

Automating operational procedures and keeping track of data are two of the most important factors when choosing what equipment to use in smart cities, and the Smart Tracker performs both tasks easily and effectively. The device’s web page is updated in real-time every 10 seconds, so anyone with access can record data over time or copy and paste the events log into spreadsheets or documents to monitor the unit and make decisions. This data can then be used by traffic monitors to improve traffic flow and use less energy at intersections.

Because smart cities rely on the use of large amounts of fiber to expediently carry information from one place to another, there’s always going to be a need to manage new fiber and any slack that is leftover from previous applications.

Multilink’s plastic Sno-Shoes® not only provide a safe and easy method for storing additional lengths of fiber along the strand for later usage, such as a pole change or fiber damage repair. They also ensure that any technicians who encounter the cables housed within follow proper installation practices by keeping fiber contained in the proper pole space.

Many similar products are made of metal, but Multilink’s slack storage solution is composed of a molded, UV-inhibited plastic that prevents cables from being sliced by sharp edges while preventing damage to the cables during lightning or other high voltage conditions.

Multilink's Sno-Shoe® is the ideal slack storage bracket for smart cities, keeping excess fiber safe and allowing for easy technician access.

The Sno-Shoe® sports a user-friendly design, aided by Multilink’s patented Cable Trough™, which allows installers to lay cable down, leaving both their hands free to secure cable to a unit. The trough also has oversized slots to accommodate different tie wraps to secure the fiber to the trough, and also features countersunk nut wells to install mounting brackets, making installation simple and easy.

To learn more about the fiber optic networking products Multilink offers, browse our selection online or contact us for a free quote today.

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