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Connected Communities: The Digital Transformation of Infrastructure

Photo: Courtesy of Takashi Watanabe

The term “connected community” addresses the integrated infrastructure and connectivity needs of cities, states, commercial developers and other community entities. This phrase involves the role of both infrastructure and data analytics in the development and future of connected, intelligent infrastructure. The smart city industry has seen an upward trend in the digital transformation of infrastructure. The intersection between physical and digital assets requires communications, connectivity and a mechanism for analysis.

For connected communities to thrive, we believe three basic layers need to be deployed successfully in unison: the communication layer, a robust Internet of Things (IoT)/device layer and the data layer.

1.  Communication layer

Broadband includes pervasive wireless, wireline, and Wi-Fi coverage. Connectivity has become an “arms race” as cities compete for economic development, states for communication backbone and data center infrastructure, and countries strive to outpace each other in global competition. In addition, 5G will have a transformative effect on distributed infrastructure and technology deployment.

2. Robust IoT/device layer

Connected communities are searching for meaningful device and IoT applications. From sensing and monitoring to tracking and reporting, the possibilities around IoT and connected devices is the great frontier of the connected community. Some are being deployed now and many will be in the future.

3. Data layer

Data analytics help entities manage and optimize, and bring trends, issues and opportunities into focus that may be hiding in plain sight. Data analytics and rich graphical interface leads to precision use of data for beneficial outcomes.

New financing models are being developed to pay for connected communities. Traditional public private partnerships and other financing options are the trigger for new infrastructure development. Cities will benefit from network densification, new IoT amenities and enhanced economic development zones, while the citizens within will benefit from improved public safety, access to public information and better connectivity.

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