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Smart cities need strong foundations

Smart Cities | Marie Escaich on February 09, 2017

At the beginning of February, Stamford Bridge stadium played host to the Smart Cities UK 2017 Conference, Expo and Awards, which focused on best practice examples of smart transformation in cities across the UK.

The event forms part of a global initiative designed to share guidance and information on all aspects of Smart City design and implementation – whether it’s minimising air pollution, reducing traffic congestion or optimising energy management.

As a result of the close collaboration between industry leaders, the smart city concept is maturing. The first wave of investment takes UK cities one step closer to making the concept a reality. The Scottish Cities Alliance, for example, recently received £10 million in European Regional Development Funding for transformation projects in seven cities across Scotland.

However, many remained unconvinced of the benefits of smart cities. Indeed, two thirds of UK citizens recently surveyed believed that investing in smart city technology was not a good use of public funds.

To win over detractors, it’s important to spell out how they’ll benefit from these investments. With the country’s urban infrastructure and resources straining under the pressure of a growing population, the use of technology to address these issues and improve their efficiency is a necessary social investment which will benefit us all.

But this talk of civic altruism is all for nothing if the digital infrastructure isn’t resilient enough to support it.

The technology at the heart of the smart city depends on a secure and reliable communication network. After all, for devices to be connected, they must be able to connect in the first place.

Though a long way off, 5G with its promise of greater capacity, lower latency, and ubiquitous connectivity, will represent a huge step forward in the creation of this network.

The strength of a city is dependent on the strength of its foundations. In the case of a smart city, those foundations are the network connections that keep it running. A strong connectivity network will support a strong smart city.

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