The foundation for a smart city is really the assets it can provide. The key to good assets is to use what is existing. I am going to focus more on wireless, but there are great opportunities that the larger cities are already thinking of.
- Poles – there are plenty of poles throughout the city. They could be wood poles, lampposts, or poles to hold up traffic lights. Remember that these are valuable assets that could be utilized or rented.
- Small cells for dense networks is already happening. The pole owners, could be the city r a utility, have a great opportunity to rent these poles out or let people hang small cells and fiber on them.
- Cameras will be deployed more and more to track traffic conditions, track bad guys, and to help cities analyze foot traffic throughout the day.
- Lamp posts can be changed out to LED, which in the long run should save money. Solar panels can be put in, reducing the need for electric. Wind generators could be added, although a stretch, it can be done for energy. The city will have new sources for energy at each pole.
- Underground – there is an opportunity to not only run fiber underground, but equipment can be mounted underground also. This is a new item I had the pleasure of discussing with a company called BrandBumps. They make an underground box that is suitable to mount equipment, like routers or small cells. Really a great idea. The equipment can stay dry and it does not look ugly. It’s underground. The only people that see it are the people that open up the box to see it. How cool is that? WOW!
- Fiber should be thought of as an asset. I believe that it is going to be used by so many services to the pole. I think that the pole could be a main handoff for small cells and fixed wireless. So by putting fiber access at almost every pole the city should be covered. This will allow so many services to be deployed to each pole which could have wireless at each pole. Wireless is more than Wi-Fi, I will explain that later. Just remember that fiber is an asset, it is the key to internet and network access beyond the poles. It can be owned by anyone. Companies could own it or fiber companies or a carrier. If you have fiber and strands available, then someone will pay you to ride across it. Cities can regulate how much fiber is in or the utilities could regulate it or the fiber companies may have exclusivity to the poles and access. Just ask Google Fiber how hard it is to attach to a pole owned by the competition. Remember that the cable companies are also major players. They have a say, and if the competition, like Google fiber, wants to attach to a pole they will say NO to keep the competition out. It’s business folks. In Nashville pole attachment rears it’s ugly head, read about it https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/09/att-sues-nashville-in-bid-to-stall-google-fiber/ and http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/news/2017/02/02/pole-position-we-found-out-exactly-where-google.html to see that the legal issue is very real.
- Strands – that’s right, the strands that run from pole to pole along with some of the cable. Did you ever notice the cable companies started to put their Wi-Fi on the strands so that they would not have to mount to the poles? Do you know why? Permitting and zoning are almost nonexistent on the strand. They make strand mount radios with DOCSIS interface. The DOCSIS can provide power and backhaul to something like a low power Wi-Fi unit. It makes sense and it’s easy to deploy and all the cable companies are doing it. They also have the lowest spot on the poles, which is perfect for Wi-Fi and makes the strand mount easy and safe. It is well below the danger zone where power may be mounted. Don’t forget the strands that the traffic lights are hanging on! They too can be used in a wireless mounting situation as well as for cameras.
- Lamps – Yes, they have lamps that have built-in Wi-Fi. Thank you LED lighting! They can put the Wi-Fi radio in with the lamp. The cities want everything to look nice, something the carriers didn’t pay attention to until recently. They want it to look nice and be quiet. The way it should be.
- City Buildings – remember that the city has buildings all over. Why not use that as another asset to mount radios, lease to carriers, or maybe put public safety in the building. I know, you’re worried about the looks in these buildings, well stealth radios are a big issue, so make sure you set the rules up ahead of time.
- Bus and Train stops – Here are assets that may already have power and maybe even backhaul that can be turned into a hotspot or add digital signs to advertise. It’s all there and can be added relatively quick.
- Kiosks and billboards – here you have structures where you could add more digital video and Wi-Fi or even space to put radios in.
What do we mount on these assets?
This is one thing most people look at the obvious and then forget about all the possibilities. Here is a list.
- IOT sensors and radios
- Wi-Fi radios
- Small cells for LTE
- Traffic sensors
- Autonomous driving car sensors
- Fixed wireless for broadband to the business, could be CBRS or LTE or mmwave radios.
- Rent space to mobile carriers
- Rent space to internet service providers
- Rent space to cable companies
- Put in public safety radios
- Make sure we have power and backhaul at every site.
- Install backhaul radios where we can’t get fiber.
- Install solar panels for energy
- Install small wind farms for energy.
- Make sure we have low power lighting, LED, for savings.
- Connect sensors to detect open parking spaces.
- Smart meter hotspots
Be smart, be safe, and pay attention!
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