SmartGrid2We’re hearing more and more about smart cities these days – and as a new report from the Smart Cities Council released today notes, this is an opportunity for communications service providers. The Smart Cities Council is an advocacy and educational organization whose lead partners include companies such as AT&T, Cisco, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft, and Qualcomm.

In the 280-page report, titled “Smart Cities Council Readiness Guide,”  the council defines a smart city as one that “uses information and communications technology to enhance its livability, workability and sustainability.”

Specific applications, each of which gets a chapter in the report, include:

  • Smart buildings
  • Energy
  • Telecommunications
  • Transport
  • Water and waste water
  • Health and human services
  • Public safety
  • Payments

The world’s 700 largest cities are projected to spend $30 to $40 trillion on smart city infrastructure over the next 20 years, the report notes. And communications is one of three key enablers of the smart city, along with collecting information through sensors and systems and analyzing data, the report notes.

Service providers will be encouraged to learn that the report recommends ubiquitous high-speed broadband access to all or most buildings as well as wireless access throughout the city.

“An advanced telecommunications system that includes high-speed broadband and city-wide wireless not only makes it easier for city residents and businesses to access the Internet anywhere; it also enables [other] important targets,” the authors note.

One of those targets is providing access to a central geographic information system, eliminating the need for separate city departments to have their own GIS, the authors note. In addition an advanced telecom network can provide access to comprehensive network and device management – an important requirement as many smart city applications rely on huge numbers of sensors.

Also good news for service providers: The authors advise those involved in smart city planning to “investigate the viability of existing public networks before building your own private network,” The authors note, for instance, that “existing cellular networks have the capacity to support smart grids, smart traffic management and smart water networks.”

The report also includes some useful case studies from cities that have implemented smart city initiatives.

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