Using 4G WiMAX technology, municipalities can now cost effectively and efficiently manage their day-to-day operations, writes WINSTON SMITH of Alvarion South Africa and Nigeria.
Local municipalities are the backbone of any functioning city, providing valuable services including water, electricity, sewerage, traffic management, security and refuse removal, among other things. With the continued pressure for adequate service delivery, municipalities can now invest in multi-purpose, city-wide broadband networks that will help them optimise their utility network infrastructure. ‚Smart City’ projects, as they are being called, use 4G WiMAX technology to provide a cost-effective and efficient approach for managing the city’s day to day operations by means of a single, multi-purpose network.
A municipal broadband network based on WiMAX 16e broadband wireless can address multiple municipal applications and requirements. The technology provides functionality ranging from simple parking meter monitors and traffic light synchronisation, to more sophisticated video surveillance applications in both stationary and mobile environments.
The goal for these Smart City initiatives is to invest in a single scalable network infrastructure that can satisfy the diverse requirements of multiple city agencies. It can be utilised for public safety and security efforts, connecting multiple city buildings and agencies, intelligent traffic systems, automated water, gas and electricity meter infrastructure, educational networks, healthcare and broadband access to address digital inclusion initiatives.
Smart Grid is one of the Smart City initiatives that incorporates information and communications technology into every aspect of electricity generation. It involves electricity backhaul, distribution automation, substation backhaul, video surveillance, backup communication and renewable energy components. A number of municipalities in North America, Europe, China, Australia, and Brazil have already undertaken deployment of Smart Grid electricity management systems and are experiencing the benefits of improved reliability, minimised environmental impact, reduced costs and improved efficiency in their power utility grid.
Alvarion’s WiMAX 16e solution, based on the IEEE standard 802.16e-2005, supports a range of multipurpose network options, including point-to-multipoint (PtMP), mesh and point-to-point wireless topologies for optimal coverage. PtMP provides the majority of coverage with each base station supporting multiple stationary or mobile terminals. With this architecture it is very easy to add or adjust terminal sites to address changing conditions. Temporary terminals can also be installed in a matter of hours within the base station coverage area to provide added surveillance for special events or planned gatherings and demonstrations.
Most current deployments for video surveillance and other public safety applications have been application specific and been dependant on the use of existing wireline infrastructure to provide the necessary broadband backhaul connections. Wireless technology on the other hand has lower deployment costs, lower operating costs and a fast implementation time. It can be deployed in virtually any terrain and makes it easy to deploy additional temporary or permanent terminals as necessary, to address safety and security requirement for special events.
Municipalities have already realised many of the benefits of broadband connectivity for public safety applications and video surveillance with limited, application-specific solutions. A citywide broadband wireless access network based on the WiMAX global standard provides a common infrastructure with all of the attributes and features required for a high performance, cost-effective, multi-purpose municipal network. I believe that 4G WiMAX technology is clearly emerging worldwide as the wireless infrastructure of choice for the Smart City.