Anatomy of a 5G smart city

17th January 2018
Alice Matthews

As smart city technologies begin to emerge in volume, their network requirements will have to cope with 5G workloads, and will need to do that in a 5G way. This month Rethink Internet of Things (Riot) takes an in-depth look at a smart city approach which is built around the municipality’s own fibre, Software Defined Networks and cloud analytics software – a system which will survive the transition into a 5G world, as it searches for a formula to monetise next-gen citizen services.

The report is entitled Anatomy of a 5G Smart City.

Each week, around a million people migrate to cities, in a trend that will continue for the next thirty years – meaning that by 2050, two-thirds of the expected global population of nine billion will live in cities. Many cities are already embracing smart city tech, with the likes of Singapore, London, Barcelona, San Francisco, and Tokyo usually populating the ‘top smart cities’ polls. This month, in a special report, Riot looks at the leading Smart City in the UK - having overtaking London in many key measures.

The city in focus is Bristol, which has a goal to create an operating system and applications to run a city, allowing it to manage data and services in a technology agnostic way. It has sucked in the local municipality, multiple universities, key trading partners, including tier one providers looking to crack the smart city markets, as they open up around the world. It has built its ethos around wide-scale experimentation and vendor access to the data this throws up.

Its services list is enormous – from smart lighting and parking which can save money, to tracking dementia patients and using AI to analyse videos of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic to relieve congestion. It takes in social care, urban mobility, green energy and sustainability, public city transport, carbon emissions, social inequality, housing issues, citizen employability, CCTV, telecare services, air quality and alarm monitoring. It has experiments in autonomous vehicles, electric vehicle charging and outputs data on ethnicity, religion, population, social deprivation, quality of life, child obesity and road maintenance – to name but a few.

The city has tinkered with Apps that give access to free WiFi, and with proof of concepts for LTE and 5G. It has built a Wi-SUN RF mesh network to manage lighting, and has a comprehensive city operations centre, and as we said its own fibre network.

Riot would argue that this is just the starting point for any truly smart city and that 5G communications, small cells, millimetre wave and MIMO will just make all of this more possible, and make it more desirable to access and make the best of all that data.

Bristol’s results and experiments are now stretching to take in nearby cities as it lines them up as partners and extensions of its services, and opens up the Pandora’s box of city life in other towns.

To read this 20 page profile of one of the world’s most advanced smart cities, you just have to be a subscriber to Riot, Rethink’s IoT and Enterprise disruption research service. An individual subscription costs $650.

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