The technological landscape is ever-dynamic. There are new advancements every day, be it artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, metaverse, or the Internet of Things. The applications of these technologies are enveloping several aspects of our everyday lives.
Previously, we were fascinated with the advent of smart gadgets. As time went by, smart homes, farms, schools, and hospitals became the rage. As time passes by, governments envision complete smart cities and are executing them on some level.
Connectivity is at the center of all of these breakthroughs. We can attribute the headway mankind has made to the invention of the internet. None of the above developments could have been made possible without consistent internet coverage.
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What are Smart Cities
Smart cities are complete city infrastructures rich in operational efficiency with the help of information and communication technology. Municipality improves the quality of life for the citizens by keeping them informed, inflating economic growth, and optimizing functions.
The city governments are aiming to create smart cities using IoT, data science, and smart technology. The different parameters upon which we can ascertain a smart city are:
- Environment-friendly and sustainable projects
- A functional and sophisticated public transit system.
- Technologically advanced infrastructure
- Well-defined urban planning
In a smart city, the government, the bureaucracy, and the private sector all need to work in complete harmony to achieve a strong balance with a digital backdrop.
What Roles Can Telcos Play in Building Smart Cities?
Telecommunication companies can play an instrumental role in building a smart city in a multitude of ways. You can say that telecommunication infrastructures can easily be the backbone of smart cities. Let’s look at some of the ways different stakeholders can benefit from telcos in this endeavor.
Telecom companies hold comprehensive data on a myriad of things. They can prove to be a reliable partner for city governments in devising infrastructure and cost-effective solutions. The areas in which telcos can assist in transmitting data are energy solutions, traffic management, air quality, etc.
Because they are a powerhouse of user data, telcos can act as an informational bridge between the public and governmental bodies, allowing the authorities to make more informed decisions to build a smart city.
Other advantages of telco involvement are transparency and community engagement. They can also play a key role in green initiatives in the transportation sector with the help of this data. Telcos can also provide data on the utility needs of the citizens to decrease resource wastage.
There is no city without its citizens. As discussed before, community engagement is a big piece of the puzzle when it comes to innovations like smart cities. Citizens have a huge potential in identifying the areas of improvement.
To get the most out of citizens’ insights and harness this information, there is a requirement for a trustworthy platform that is publicly available, is user-friendly, and unifies the voice of the citizens. Because of being a neutral party, telcos can provide this platform.
The need is to converge holistic solutions sourced directly from the community to identify the pain points of the citizens like crime, pollution, congestion, etc., and to work on them.
For the Private Business Sector
The local economy thrives on sensor data insights. Telecommunication companies are a rich source of information on consumer needs. This data comprises user location and information in addition to the preferences of the larger consumer body.
There is a massive cherry on top of this cake. While providing this data to the business sector to address citizen needs through innovation and introducing new trends, telcos withhold the right to protect the privacy of the citizens.
Contrary to popular belief, smart cities are not just a buzzword or a distant dream. We see implementations of the above-mentioned practices in real time. Let’s discuss some cities that are making use of telco data to improve their smart city initiatives.
Chungwa Telecom – Taiwan
This telecommunication company is acting as a major connectivity provider in the city of Taiwan. The major manifestation of this is the smart city lights that Chungwa has created and installed in the city. These lights save energy for a greener future.
Their services are not limited to street lights but also provide sustainable solutions in smart garbage collection, disposal, and recycling. The company also gearing up to incorporate 5G Smart services in their offerings.
Telefonica – Spain
Telefonica is moving up the value pyramid by creating an end-to-end platform for the government for the deployment of smart cities. This company provides solutions for creating smart transit, environment, economy, government, and people services.
This platform aggregates sensor data in the abovementioned parameters for the authorities for more informed decisions. It does so by managing and predicting the requirements of a smart ecosystem.
NTT Docomo – Japan
This company takes it a step further by being the co-creator of smart city development along with the government. This is the highest degree of participation a telco can offer in this regard. The cities in Japan that are facing a major population decline like Yunaguni island, the authorities are using smart city initiatives to encourage the citizens to stay in the area.
This initiative employs IoT in revolutionizing healthcare, education, and agriculture. Additionally, it also assists in environmental monitoring and helping the local industry thrive.
Cisco reports a 17-fold rise in mobile traffic data from 2015 to 2020 which tripled until 2023. You can dub this data as the goldmine that can power an idyllic smart city. The need of the hour is for telcos all over the world to translate this data into value by helping governments identify actionable steps with the help of citizen insights.