Technology research company Gartner predicts that 6.4 billion connected ‘things’ will be in use worldwide by the end of 2016, a 30% increase from 2015. Smart cities promote numerous advantages for the public and organisations alike, improving communication response, remote control potential and innovative interactive experiences for public and private services.
The race to connect large metropolitan cities throughout Europe is fuelling innovation, improving business districts and increasing growth potential. This is demonstrated in the UK by the Smart London Plan that was originally created before the 2012 Olympics, with the objective of utilising the creative power of new technologies to improve the lives of Londoners.
Successful smart city initiatives are also starting to be rolled out globally, having been inspired by the “LinkNYC” project launched by the mayor of New York City. This offers free, encrypted, gigabit wireless internet coverage to the five core boroughs within the city by converting old payphones into Wi-Fi hotspots.
However, the question remains, if the benefits from smart city adoption are so apparent, being aided with the constant emergence of connected solutions (IoT, 5G, Cloud), what is limiting smart city deployment across leading nations in Europe?
Some nations attribute the restriction to a lack of connected infrastructure. The development of 5G and the increasing integration of internet-enabled solutions across all city infrastructure demands the creation of more antenna sites and the availability of fibre connectivity at a competitive standard.
Mobile operators owning the licensed spectrum that can improve and support wireless broadband signal maximisation, and therefore incentivise investment and opportunities in these selected regions, should be able to deploy antenna sites to improve and enable connectivity in a selected area. However a mobile operator’s business case is changing, and they are frequently reliant on a guaranteed user base, to ensure return on investment, before improving their services or offering collaboration to market incumbents.
This is continuing to restrict the speed of progression in relation to smart city initiatives and plays a key part in the future of these solutions.