Smart & connected communities – drivers & connectivity

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As the digital world evolves, citizens and visitors of towns and cities expect and demand to be served and communicated to in a way that reflects the world around them. Access to digital services is no longer a-nice-to-have, but a necessity. 

When out in public, people expect the same level of connectivity as they would have at home. If you’re looking to become a smart community, connectivity is the first piece of the jigsaw. Nothing is smart, if it’s not connected. 

What is driving the move to become ‘smart’ 

The three main drivers for digital transformation are: 

  • Economic
  • Social
  • Environmental

And these drivers need to have one of two outcomes: either increase revenue or decrease costs. 

Technology can be utilized to help with these drivers and deliver on these outcomes. Any solution that, in a cost effective manner, can contribute to things such as improving citizens’ lives, increasing safety, reducing crime, supporting health, improving transport, improving education and having the ability to impact local facilities should be evaluated. Cities that embrace technology will be the winners.  

Drivers – the virtuous circle

The drivers all impact one another and in effect there is a recurring cycle of events, the result of each one being to increase the benefit of the next, thus a virtuous cycle. 

When it comes to the economic driver, cities, towns and communities are competing against each other to attract a talented population that will contribute positively to the local economy and as a result increase revenue for the local government. The knock on effect being that an increase in revenues allows for more funding into environmental and social initiatives. Increased expenditure into these two areas then has an effect economically as it will help make the community a more attractive place to live and encourage that talented workforce to stay or move there and so on, the cycle continues.  


All devices which are interacting with each other in the Internet of Things (IoT) need to be somehow connected. A smart city or community needs a mesh of different types of networks that are most appropriate for each type of application. It’s down to being able to get data out of these networks and then being able to combine this data into a readable format.

Different applications require different types of networks and connectivity. For example something like bin sensors, which ping maybe once an hour can use GSM which may be something as simple as a 3G sim card/router being installed on the underside of the bin. An application which is much more data-intensive such as CCTV to monitor traffic flow would be sending a constant signal and would need something like WiFi.

In terms of public WiFi, people demand to be connected. People expect the same connectivity as they would get at home. WiFi is the infrastructure to support smart cities. Research by Ruckus shows that 76% of decision-makers think public WiFi is the first step in the creation of a smart city.

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