The city of the future will be smart and will rely on technology to guarantee the safety and comfort of its inhabitants. It will also be part of a movement towards greater ecology, at a time when waste reduction and energy savings are at the heart of citizens’ concerns. The development of this smart city implies the implementation of IoT networks adapted to the different uses that will be made.
The importance of the choice of communication infrastructure for the smart city
Today’s cities are already equipped with a multitude of sensors and information flows, particularly with remote metering and the emergence of smart grids. Other examples include Wi-fi in urban areas, public transport management or data digitisation systems used by local authorities.
The IoT is at the center of infrastructures, creating huge meshes of connected devices. There are many different technologies: 5G, fiber, M2M connectivity, LPWA LoRa, Sigfox… These networks all have different characteristics, which make them suitable for specific uses in the smart city.
The challenge of the smart city is to interconnect these networks and make them work in synergy. This is what will allow us to create smart cities that are both more energy efficient and focused on the well-being and comfort of citizens.
Which IoT network for which service?
For each need of the smart city and its users, the most suitable technologies must be selected based on various criteria:
- energy consumption,
- data security,
- network reach,
For applications requiring a very high throughput, such as video surveillance or autonomous transport, the 5G network is preferred, as it offers unparalleled data transmission speed. However, this type of infrastructure is very expensive and energy consuming, which makes it impossible to extend it to all connected devices. However, there will be many of them, since the development of the smart city requires several sensors for each use.
Indeed, the challenges of the smart city also include waste management and the deployment of smart grids to rationalize electricity consumption. This means equipping each home with sensors, which only transmit “light” data. A low-speed network such as Sigfox or LoRa will then prove to be very relevant in terms of cost and power consumption. These technologies also have the advantage of providing very good coverage of the territory, with good penetration rates in buildings.
They can also be relevant at the periphery of smart cities, with applications in farming for example:
- management of livestock waste,
- production monitoring,
It is certain that a single technology will not be able to provide the community and users with all the services needed in the city of tomorrow. It will be necessary to reuse as much of the existing infrastructure as possible and to make the right technological choices to reconcile maximum efficiency and energy transition.