Communication in Smart Cities

Information and communication, data exchange and interconnectedness are the keys to the intelligent city of tomorrow. All other key components of the smart city, like energy supply, mobility and public safety are built on this. Communication technologies in the smart city are no longer limited to the land line network, 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, new actors will enter the field: Besides users with devices like smartphones or notebooks; 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-user 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 – while in total compliance with data protection regulations and based on the reliability of data transmission. The development of new sources of information and the constant exchange between users and public infrastructure combine to take communication to a new level.

Communication infrastructure of the future

Nowadays, the mobile internet plays a leading role in everyday communication. The increased use of the mobile internet and the associated rapid increase of the data volume pose new challenges to the existing communication networks, which no longer provide sufficient capacities for the increasing data volume and growing quality standards. New broadband networks that can meet these requirements are currently researched worldwide, including in Germany. The so called “Future Internet” will revolutionize communication as we know it today.

The central goal is 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.

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Open Data as a key issue

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.

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.