Data is the Base
The most important thing to remember as you consider any kind of Smart City project is that a decision will only be as good as the data you enter. Therefore, taking advantage of advances in processing and analytics means figuring out what data you need, how to get it, how to transfer it to where it is needed, and how to store it.
Historical trends are critical to urban planning and development, so any solution you use should be resilient, meaning you've taken all the necessary measures to ensure it will last no matter what. It also means you have to be selective about what data you need to store and for how long.
Modern smart cars, for example, can generate up to four terabytes of data per day. You may not need to keep all that data forever. So, setting up local storage and sorting it regularly for long term use in Cloud network is key. It's important to focus on what it takes (and for how long) to make the most of the Cloud's resources.
Network Is a Structure
If data is the foundation on which Smart Cities are built, then networks are the structures that allow you to build them. After all, your data will only be as useful as your ability to manipulate it, and that means being able to pull information from across the network at a moment's notice.
To understand how networks should operate at the kind of scale we're talking about, it's helpful to look at other implementations out there that approach the kind of complexity that Smart Cities require. As Julie Song, President at Advanced RF Technologies wrote for Forbes:
“Sports stadiums, or any venue that accommodates thousands of people in one area at the same time, are fundamentally incapable of supporting sufficient cellular connectivity to send pictures, texts or even phone calls. To increase cellular coverage and capacity, most of these venues install distributed antenna systems (DAS), with multiple remotes and strategically 'hidden' antennas for all major US carriers on the premises.”
It is very important that the placement of these network nodes is easy to reach. When it comes to connectivity, distance and architecture matter, as do materials. Most of us have experienced that one room in our homes where the Wi-Fi signal can be sluggish, and usually, it has to do with what material your signal has to pass through on its way from the router to your device.
Facilitating IoT Connectivity
In addition to the physical demands of your network, there are also digital requirements. The biggest priority is to create a low-latency environment that allows your decision-making process to follow the fast-paced rhythm of 21st century urban life.
Think about which IoT (Internet of Things) devices need to be connected and how. A sensor that reports water levels once a day, for example, may have very different requirements than a traffic camera at a busy intersection.
For devices that need to run on battery because it is difficult to get power to them, a low-power wide area network (LPWAN) protocol is key. This allows them to continue to report information without requiring constant replacement. Cameras, on the other hand, need bandwidth to support moving large files as quickly and smoothly as possible.
If you've spent any time reading or working on network security, you know that it's very important to keep your device up to date. New vulnerabilities are discovered all the time, and you should be able to patch, update, or replace any device on the network without interrupting daily operations. The modular infrastructure allows you to keep everything up to date while giving you the flexibility to make upgrades as needed.
It goes without saying that the digitization of civil infrastructure carries some pretty significant risks. Coordinated cyberattacks in which hackers gain control of IoT-connected devices have the potential to wreak havoc on the physical world.
This concern is fairly common in any conversation on the Internet of Things, but it gets even stronger when we talk about the scale of smart cities. Because of their civilian infrastructure, attackers can be motivated by a number of reasons, from financial gain to political reasons.