Communication in smart cities

Information and communication are key to the intelligent city of tomorrow. Communication, data exchange and interconnectedness are the basis for all other key subjects of the smart city: Power supply, mobility and public safety. Communication technologies in the smart city are no longer limited to fixed-line telephony, mobile communications and internet. The modern city is based on a new communication concept that combines the traditional, separate communication infrastructures – from sensor networks to information networks and mobile communication. Furthermore, there will be new actors involved in the communication. Besides users with popular end devices like smartphones or notebooks, for example, vehicles, streets, buildings or other household devices will be integrated into the new infrastructure. The focus is no longer on the simple connection between two persons or end devices but on the interconnectedness of countless users, devices and systems via mobile internet.

Newly accessible municipal information represents a significant development not only in the sense of public access but also in regards to general transparency. Smart cities make it easier for citizens, institutions and businesses to access information. Freedom of information and involvement in communal matters can be greatly enhanced in an intelligent city, of course in total compliance with data protection regulations and based on the reliability of data transmission. The development of new information sources and the constant exchange between users and public infrastructure combine to take communication to a new level.

Mobile internet and smart administration

Nowadays, the internet plays a leading role in everyday communication. The mobile internet will become more and more important and will represent the lion's share of the internet traffic by 2020 at the latest. The increased use of the mobile internet and the associated rapid increase of the data volume pose new challenges to the existing communication networks. The existing networks no longer provide sufficient capacities for the increasing data volume and growing quality standards. New broadband networks that can meet these requirements are being researched worldwide, including in Germany. The so called future internet will revolutionize communication as we know it today. It is the goal to configure existing communication networks to achieve compatibility and interoperability. That way, a flexible communication infrastructure can be created that allows for seamless data transfer in case of network switch-overs without quality loss and that controls and maintains itself thus providing the highest level of security and reliability.

However, this not only applies to the communication infrastructure but also the content and the availability of information change. In addition to current popular commercial apps for smartphones, that mainly serve consumption and entertainment, smart cities are meant to make data from municipal administrations available for everyone. Whether it is the current traffic report, environmental data like air and water quality, pollen count or the faster and more efficient exchange between public authorities – communication in the public sector has an immense potential for development and offers new opportunities for making everyday life easier.

Importance of open data

The open data movement aims to increase the availability of public and municipal information. It supports access to non-sensitive municipal data that can be accessed publicly on a larger scale than it is today and its interoperable use. Collecting this public data in a virtual city data cloud allows for companies to develop new apps that provide each citizen with access to diffuse quantities of data and statistics via a practical smartphone app. The areas of application are numerous and applicable to almost all areas of life.