Cities across the United States and around the world are quickly becoming aware of the importance of integrating Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Internet of Things (IoT) in a valuable yet secure manner to manage a city’s assets. These assets include schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, law enforcement, water supply networks and other community services.
ICT projects allow city leaders to interact directly with their community and monitor the city infrastructure to know what is happening in the city, how the city is evolving, and how to enable a better quality of life. With everything connected to everything, data can be collected from the city’s residents and devices – processed and analysed in real time to allow the information and knowledge gathered to be used to tackle inefficiency. It can be used to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to improve contact between people and the local businesses and government.
The same holds true for smaller towns and smaller communities – rural areas which are far from the central hub of activity – where people are unable to receive a stable Internet connection, let alone a high-speed Internet connection? The same quality services and IoT deployments can be achieved by designing and delivering their own “muni open broadband networks”.
We caught up with Raj Singh, founder and CEO of Network Design Decisions Inc. (NDDI) whose vision is to aid communities, developers and educational institutions access high-speed broadband easily and cost-effectively by helping them design economically smart fiber deployments.
NDDI has developed a unique software-based solution to help bring “broadband for all” one step closer, NOCPlan.
“Typically, the first stage would be planning and building a fiber-optic infrastructure,” Singh said. “Key is the creation of a solid project plan; details should include goals and objectives of the network including demographics, determine locations, required space, access points for the cables and equipment needed.”
NDDI has sought to automate a lot of this work. “Routes that the cables are going to take need to be planned if they do not already exist – this can be checked using GPS/mapping technology.” After identifying the assets, Singh explained that “Permits need to be obtained, a list of materials and an estimate of budget needs to be known beforehand. All this should be recorded in a GIS/Facilities Management system.”
The second major step is to find an engineer and construction company to contract. All the information gathered in step one is critically important at this stage. In the final stage, the contractor can begin work, ongoing work should constantly be checked for Q/A and changes should be fully documented.
NDDI offers a network design service which allows communities and service providers to explore their options advantageously. With the use of NOCPlan, a customized network design and the whole plan from start to finish; including costs can be visualized based on the priorities of the community.
These networks can then go on to support local incentives including:
· Smart parking meters – Sensors which are fixed to parking spaces to give drivers and authorities real-time information on parking use and availability via phone applications or other software. In turn, this would also reduce traffic congestion.
· Fiber to the Home (FTTH) and Fiber to the Building (FTTB) – As more and more consumers manage their daily activities online, expectations increase and will continue to do so until everyone can connect to a satisfactory broadband infrastructure. This is where FTTH and FTTB come in. They can provide high-speed broadband services to both the individual for personal use and to businesses so that they can compete on the global stage no matter their size.
· Smart farms – Through the use of a management system; observation and measuring, mapping and storage of important information through what is called “precision agriculture” can be achieved.
· Community Safety – With the use of street corner cameras, street lighting, etc. real-time information access by local authorities can increase accuracy and efficiency.
“Every community, every college campus, every real estate development is different,” Singh said. “Planning is becoming even more interesting and important as Internet of Things grows, with connect meters, traffic systems, lighting and security systems and more. We are seeing high demand for more bandwidth given the current and upcoming IoT projects.”
NDDI has recently signed agreements with communications service providers who are using the platform to plan their own networks as well as those they are building for their customers.
Edited by Ken Briodagh