Smart cities

Background

Smart City has become a broad term used to describe the use of the wireless communications devices & services deployed in the context of large-scale urban applications to improve public infrastructure and operations. The realization of Smart City networks involve a myriad wireless technologies, including LPWAN, NB-IoT, Cat-M, Z-Wave, Zigbee, SIGFOX, LoRa, ANT, Thread, Wi-SUN, Bluetooth and WiFi.

A few examples of LPWAN capabilities and applications for Smart Cities include smart parking, smart power grids, intelligent street lighting, supply chain management with asset tracking, smart utilities (water & gas metering), smart agriculture, animal tracking and geo-fencing. Along with the Ultra Narrowband (UNB) protocol, LoRa and its MAC layer implementation – LoRaWAN – is the LPWA network solution currently gaining the most traction to support IoT applications and services.

Today, cities use a variety of infrastructure technologies to satisfy different connectivity requirements such as fiber for backbone connectivity and radio to connect to the users. Radio options include cellular (3G & LTE) for voice and high value data, WiFi for high-capacity indoor and outdoor public access, and 900 MHz for ubiquitous, low bandwidth coverage, typically for sensors used in smart meters.

Individually and collectively, these pose special challenges such as power dissipation, transmission range, data rates, seamless connectivity, security and radio compliance. This diversity in deployed technologies presents a significant opportunity and challenge for the entire industry. Many hardware & software developers today must work to creatively overcome constraints from battery drain, power, signal integrity and the complexities of the RF chain like signal interference.

Connectivity topology becomes even more interesting with distributed machine learning, analytics and intelligence in gateways and end nodes making more efficient use of bandwidth. The speed at which WiFi can be deployed and the bandwidth it is capable of supporting will determine the foundation which will enable a smart city’s development given that it is the fabric upon which connected mobile devices gets woven into. Expansive wireless connectivity within unlicensed radio frequencies through the use of advanced capabilities can extend the range, reliability and performance of 802.11 technologies.

Cities are now finding ways to leverage expansive wireless connectivity for many applications that go well beyond free public access to the Internet such as e-routing traffic, monitoring air pollution, conserving water, improving public safety and encouraging more direct participation, interaction and collaboration with local government. Reliable wireless meshing can enable adaptive and reliable point-to-point or point-to-multi-point backhaul connections between access points, eliminating the costs of running copper or fiber to every access point thereby simplifying the deployment process. Cloud-based access management lets cities gather valuable user demographics while providing the ability to easily customize and control user experience by enabling proactive engagement with residents, citizens and visitors.

Why Unictron?

Unictron offers a variety of antenna solutions that can enable appropriate networks, GPS trackers combined with intelligence systems to improve highway safety, ease congestion, which can be easily reapplied to social distancing with the onset of COVID-19, and GNSS receivers for high-precision positioning applications. We love helping customers solve the most challenging, mission critical wireless connectivity challenges and continuously improve our knowledge for how to successfully deploy & manage antennas for urban systems. For cities, this means expertise in where to target deployments and how to design and plan network installs. Most of the time this means selecting specific areas or zones for WiFi coverage, and conducting site surveys to understand the RF environment and what is needed to ensure strong, pervasive WiFi connectivity.

Products featured:

  • Cellular/wifi antennas
  • TA 18 series
  • EI 18 series
  • Combo antennas (MT series for pole mounting)

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