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Why the Bay Area Needs to Get Smart About Smart Cities

Jonathan Adelstein

President and CEO, WIA

One of the first building blocks of a smart city is the broadband infrastructure that provides connectivity so that municipalities can communicate with residents. The wireless industry is evolving to 5G technology to enable this vision, and there is massive expected growth in the Internet of Things, where machines will communicate with each other. Water, energy, waste and transportation are a few areas where forward-thinking municipalities have generated such initiatives.

Serving end users

To handle this growth in mobile broadband connections, wireless infrastructure needs to get closer to the end user. These advances will require not only an expansion and densification of wireless networks that serve end users, but also of the fiber networks that backhaul an increasing amount of wireless data and traffic.

This requires creative use of existing infrastructure and new methods to embed sensors, cameras, radios, etc. that will form the platform of a smart community.

Policies need to be in place to encourage more wireless broadband deployments and investment. Sensible policies must be implemented that make placement of Distributed Antenna Systems equipment efficiently. This can be accomplished by ensuring providers have access to place equipment on structures in public rights of way and by assessing reasonable and nondiscriminatory fees for collocating equipment on existing structures.

New policies

Municipalities should consider enacting wireless siting ordinances that simplify or eliminate time-consuming review processes.

When appropriate, municipalities should approach municipal projects with a “dig once” policy where public works projects include inexpensive conduit as part of any project where streets are opened. If conduit is already laid, this can reduce project costs by 90 percent or more.

The Wireless Infrastructure Association has developed state model legislation that encourages collocation on existing facilities and provides municipalities guidelines on how to effectively develop their own wireless siting ordinances.

Smart buildings have a role as well. A plethora of sensors and monitors that help to enable smart buildings will require a robust in-building solution. In-building connectivity is a safety issue as well because about 80 percent of consumers used cellphones to make 911 calls.

The Bay Area, long a leader in technology, needs a strong mobile broadband foundation to flourish and continue to lead the world.

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