This article was originally published by Sarah Wray on Cities today, the leading news platform for urban mobility and innovation reaching an international audience of city guides. For the latest updates, see Cities Today Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Youtubeor sign up for Cities Today News.
Dublin’s solar powered Bigbelly garbage cans were already smart, sending alerts when they were almost full to optimize collections. Now they are also being used to measure city activity and house small cell infrastructure to improve connectivity across Dublin.
This is the latest example of cities re-using existing smart infrastructure to meet the urgent new challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of a pilot with Dublin City Council, smart bin provider Bigbelly configured its system to include timestamps that are triggered every time trash is disposed of.
These data provide a snapshot of the “pulse of the city” at a time of unprecedented demand for these insights locally and nationally, said Jamie Cudden, Dublin smart city program manager.
“Our 350 containers are located in parks, downtown and in the suburbs so you can get an idea of what is happening in different parts of the city. The data compliments other data sets related to city activity and happenings, “he said Cities today.
Small radar sensors were also placed around about 20 of the containers to achieve better granularity of the data, e.g.[Read: How Polestar is using blockchain to increase transparency]
The Internet of the trash can
Dublin continues to run its trash cans and is exploring their use as a platform for small cell devices to densify networks and pave the way for 5G.
This is part of the city’s wider drive to improve connectivity in the city, including the creation of a new dedicated telecommunications department, as the pandemic has highlighted the importance of internet access to work, education and social connections around the world.
Dublin is chairman of the Connected City Infrastructure Telecom Infra Project (TIP) program that brings together companies such as Cellnex, Three, Siklu, Schréder and Ligman, and Bigbelly, to develop a standardized approach that allows radio and Wi-Fi equipment to be easily integrated into existing ones and new street-level infrastructure like street lights, smart masts, trash cans and more.
The initiative aims to help cities make the provision of telecommunications services easier and faster for operators. Expanding the market and size for infrastructure and equipment providers; and reduce visual clutter by increasing the number of small cells.
Vishal Mathur, global leader of engagement, Telecom Infra Project, said Cities today that TIP is working with a growing number of cities along with traditional actors and startups in the telecommunications industry.
He said, “The idea is that by introducing open interfaces and disaggregating networks, you bring hardware down to the lowest common denominator to achieve economies of scale and hardware – radio units, Wi-Fi access points -. and then “softwarize” as much intelligence as necessary.
“That drives competition and lowers the entry barriers for new players. We’re breaking these lock-ins [between buyers and providers] and we’re changing the way networks are invested in the future. “
The TIP initiative also follows the European Commission to adopt New specifications on the physical and technical properties of devices with small cells recommend exempting antennas that comply with these guidelines from the requirements for building permits.
“The new small cells (antennae) are less visible (either fully integrated and invisible to the general public or, if visible, occupy a maximum of 30 liters).”
Solutions developed as part of the Connected City Infrastructure project will be validated in the Smart Smartlands testbed in Dublin to be rolled out across the city. This will culminate in a blueprint that other cities and stakeholders can adopt on the operational and business models for delivering small cells on road goods.
Mathur noted that the operating models can vary based on the location and availability of the assets.
He said, “If Dublin can develop a digital map of all of its assets, street furniture and locations etc and see which ones have fiber and power, where the street lights are etc it is a massive strategic advantage that it can have very quickly to procure services, or attendees can come to the table with connectivity, small cell solutions, or street furniture solutions.
“What we are setting out is the framework.”
Dublin has now also set up its own telecommunications unit to optimize access, speed rollout and attract private investment. It works with the City of Glasgow recently created a similar department.
The team will act as a single point of contact for telecommunications issues and asset management. You create a data catalog and define the legal framework for the provision and use of the infrastructure.
“The reaction from operators in the industry is that they are absolutely thrilled,” said Cudden. “In the past, they may not have looked at the city because it was difficult to work across silos and with different property owners.”
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Published on February 12, 2021 – 16:00 UTC