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Smart city is a concept of urban development, designed to deliver all the information, crucial for better city management, in real time. Its popularity has further increased with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of smart city solutions and emerging technologies, including IoT infrastructure and monitoring centers, information and communication technologies are used to collect, analyze and implement key information about the core systems for smooth city operations.

Infinet Wireless is at the forefront, implementing its industry-leading solutions in the smart city infrastructures globally. The company offers cost-efficient ways for network extension and provides the connectivity needed to eliminate the ever-increasing cost of leasing networks.

Roman Smirnov, commercial director at Infinet Wireless, talks further to Telecom Review about the current opportunities of smart city concept and its challenges.

What smart city projects have Infinet Wireless been engaged in?

Infinet Wireless has a long history of deploying solutions in smart city infrastructures. One of the first cases supporting this evolving trend was the provision of the best bandwidth and the most fluid, manageable infrastructure through a wireless broadband solution in the framework of the regional traffic operations program in Georgia, USA. Since then, this kind of application has only continued to expand. We have implemented similar projects in countries such as Kazakhstan, Turkey, Mexico and China.  

One of the most prominent recent applications was the one we completed in Saint Petersburg. At the end of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic started, Profi-Svyaz, a long-time Infinet Wireless partner in the region, faced the task of quickly connecting video cameras installed in St. Petersburg and nearby cities with radio links, and integrating them into a single city monitoring system. It was quite a challenge, especially taking into account the dense population of St. Petersburg, as well as the shortage of free radio frequencies in 5 GHz and 6 GHz ranges. Fiber-optic connection lines cannot be organized everywhere mainly because the city with all its canals and the Neva River is literally standing on water.

Within a brief period of time, specialists deployed network segments based on Quanta 70. Hundreds of video cameras were installed in schools, kindergartens and other municipal facilities and connected with radio links. Real-time data collected in all the locations became available for operators of a single city monitoring system. 

This project marked the first time our then brand-new Quanta 70 solution was applied in such a large-scale project. It embraced the capacity of the 70 GHz frequency range which stays unlicensed in Russia, and demonstrated impressive performance, even more so considering the fact Quanta 70 is a budget-friendly solution. Moreover, the Octopus SDR technology at its core is perfect for the infrastructure of large cities. This software-defined radio technology is designed to increase network performance several times. This was particularly valuable in the face of the new challenges introduced by COVID-19.

Another remarkable smart city project has been recently deployed in Chile. We helped provide infrastructure to build a safer community in Las Condes, which is a very lively and vibrant part of the capital city Santiago de Chile’s metropolitan area. A range of Infinet Wireless solutions, including InfiLINK XG 1000, were used to set up 110 ‘smart posts’ to manage the area in a better and more efficient way.

As we know, despite its flexibility, smart city projects implementation can demand huge efforts. From your experience, what were the main obstacles you faced and how were you able to overcome them?

Indeed, some projects are not as easy as they seem. We learnt a lot from the smart city project deployed in Guaratuba, a coastal city in the southern state of Paraná, Brazil, in 2019. The city’s administration faced troubles of implementation, including the best type of network infrastructure to underpin the interconnectivity of the smart applications. As the project was progressing, we witnessed some delays in agreement, because there were some issues that needed to be fixed. Frankly speaking, those are not problems that concern us, as thanks to our solutions’ adjustability and flexibility we’ve managed to complete the project on time.

To support a wireless infrastructure, it is important to have specialized standards and effective data management tools. Can you cite some of these tools?

Specialized standards are vital, because spectrum regulation and the use of licensed and unlicensed wireless technology to establish connectivity in commercial, residential, and industrial premises can support telecommunications services, energy management, personnel management, and smart building systems. Apart from that, the centralized management of big data is crucial, as smart city infrastructure collects a vast quantity of data from different applications every day. Big data analysis can give actionable insights into a city’s operations, such as intelligence on traffic patterns or service outages, and allows city authorities and businesses to make strategic long-term decisions on the best way to manage the city.

Over 500,000 Infinet Wireless devices have withstood the most challenging environmental conditions across continents and are still in operation after years of continuous use. Based on years in the field, how would you define your company?

We develop durable products, equipped with thoroughly thought-through software. Infinet Wireless has been known for its high-quality solutions for years, and 2020 has proven our resilience and openness to new challenges, while still remaining true to our traditions. 

The world’s growing population demands embracing the capabilities of advanced technology – like 5G and IoT. What improvements can these technologies bring to a smart city? And what are the benefits this city can offer to its people?

5G and IoT are definitely technologies which will be implemented in the everyday life of every single person, sooner or later. All these technologies, operating in synergy, not only help to improve urban management methods, but also influence the lifestyle of people who live in densely-populated areas. Control of energy and power consumption, profitable distribution of resources, efficient interaction with citizens, not to mention safer spaces and improvements to quality of life, are benefits smart city concept can bring.

Which application is highly-demanded in the scope of the smart city concept at the moment?

Actually, all of them are equally important nowadays. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) for monitoring urban zones, big data collection and subsequent analyzing, last-mile access for connecting ISPs directly to customers to reduce iterations and lagging are the most important. In the scope of the current climate situation and the necessity to control power consumption, an application such as electricity supply control, will be in even higher demand. Also, sustainable economy is a hot topic, thus, controlling assets using AI and cloud technology is today's agenda.

Another relevant application is the creation of mobile radio access networks. Wireless points are installed on various vehicles, including urban public transport, utility vehicles, taxis and unmanned aerial vehicles. Moving access points can interact with each other, creating wireless self-organizing networks. Thus, it is possible to provide passengers with Internet access and receive data from various onboard sensors – for example, to optimize routes and monitor urban transport.

The most important thing is to understand that deploying smart city infrastructure requires multi-level approach. It means that the system being implemented should be flexible and scalable, with the possibility to further develop it and apply to many interconnected applications.

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