“The opportunities are enormous, the foundation of which starts with a connected city"

Technology is a big enabler and core for any smart city to supplement its citizens’ lifestyles whilst making a city more efficient and robust. Advanced technology can be leveraged to a city’s utmost advantage creating an enabling environment for its Government, residents and authorities alike. Sudarshan Boosupalli, Country Head, India and SAARC, Ruckus Networks in a candid interview to Chahat Jain, BW SmartCities exemplifies the importance of a connected city that can create a vibrant community of connected stakeholders.

How is Wi-Fi an enabler for a smart city ecosystem? 

Connectivity is the foundational layer for any Smart City. It provides a great starting point for cities to deploy public Wi-Fi to create a vibrant community of connected citizens, businesses and visitors. However, the benefits of Wi-Fi do not stop there. The same infrastructure is also used to provide connectivity to smart city applications such as public safety/ IP Video, traffic & parking control, air quality and many others. Ultimately Wi-Fi provides greater connectivity, helps bridge the digital divide, enables new and better citizen based services and spurs economic growth. As an example, Gandhinagar in the state of Gujarat is India’s first smart city whose connectivity is powered by Ruckus. The deployment included-

  • A robust public Wi-Fi with 900 Access Points (APs) with advanced IoT technology, Gandhinagar now boasts of over 1,000 smart street lights which have been equipped with smart sensors. These sensors save 30 per cent of energy costs for the administration. The smart street lights switch off/on basis the vehicular movements in night. 
  • Addressing e-governance and citizen services with digital signage cubes installed at major traffic intersections beam high definition videos, ranging from government notifications to real-time weather and environmental information. Under the aegis of the Gandhinagar smart city project, a public announcement system (PAS) has been set up in 13 zones to broadcast general and zone-specific communication.
  • Smarter citizen safety measures through CCTV cameras integrated to central management systems monitored by both police and traffic authorities.
  • The smart environmental sensors can alert the citizens on the quality of air and atmospheric conditions.

What is the importance of new age technology solutions for building a smart city?

Around the world, cities are evaluating how to leverage smart technology to enhance citizens’ lifestyle, increase economic growth and make the city more efficient. The possibilities are limitless with advanced technology in smart lighting, traffic and parking systems, public safety and much more. For instance, Wi-Fi can be deployed with or in LED streetlights to enable low-cost deployments over large areas. Smart trash bins can provide power (solar) and unique sitting opportunities to extend Wi-Fi coverage areas. Digital kiosks and signs can enable Wi-Fi using their existing network connections, and can provide funding to support larger Wi-Fi deployments.

The first few areas where we are starting to see some great technology and benefits are transportation, utilities – electricity, water, waste management etc., new citizen services, energy and sustainability. For cities faced with burgeoning populations, these technologies provide meaningful solutions in the face of aging civic infrastructure and poor urban planning decisions that were not made with future in mind. The opportunities are enormous, the foundation of which starts with a connected city that can deliver a personalized, connected experience to its citizens.

Easy access to Internet for citizens makes it vulnerable to threats and cyber attacks. How can all of this be avoided in connected cities?

Security and Privacy are important features for any smart city. At the same time for citizens to realize its benefits, ease of use is a key premise. If the process is complex requiring several levels of registration and authentication it will limit its adoption and not bridge the digital divide. The technology must operate just as your cell phone automatically finds a roaming partner network and securely connects no matter where you travel. All those warm fuzzies from your slick public Wi-Fi service will turn to cold stares if accessing Wi-Fi is a chore, or if it buries your IT team in extra work and trouble tickets. Today connected public services are more intelligent and Ruckus can make on-boarding millions of connected devices simple, seamless and secure. Hot-Spot 2.0 for instance is a technology that operators and municipalities, can let users connect using the same mobile phone credentials to the Wi-Fi from anywhere automatically, without having to constantly re-enter credentials.

In addition, certificate-based network access security solutions from Ruckus lets hundreds of thousands of users connect securely from practically any device, in seconds, through a self-service portal. And no matter how large your Smart City deployment grows, you can control everything easily and centrally from the cloud.