Connecting the smart city

The push to make cities smarter with wireless broadband connectivity

Cities are the engines of modern society that consume huge resources. By 2020, there’ll be 20 million electric vehicles in cities. By 2030, about two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. By 2050, cities will consume 80% of energy, emit 75% of CO2 and consume 75% of raw materials. Being smarter is a competitive priority for survival.

Cities will need to harness massive consumption and provide its citizens with more efficient services. To do this, they need to rely on a platform of wireless network connectivity to enable smart city applications and the ability to power the Internet of Things (IoT).

These new smart city applications will help improve operations of city services and enhance the quality of life. Cities are seeking:

  • Wireless equipment to blend in with the urban environment
  • Fast deployment speed to minimize disruption
  • Improved public safety and civic services
  • Ease of deployment – a single point of contact and experienced partner to help meet their connectivity goals

Deployment of wireless broadband infrastructure and network-based sensors will help create IoT applications devoted toward these objectives. For example, analysts predict massive savings of 50% and more in energy costs with LED-based street lighting. Central street light management will improve energy monitoring and billing, provide performance monitoring, enable color controls and adaptive lighting and assist with emergency response.

Enabling wireless network capacity for smart city applications will raise new challenges for city planners. Their goals will include swift permitting for faster deployment of small cell technology in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing to blend into the current cityscape, without adding unsightly pole attachments, which will improve the mobile experience of citizens and visitors and facilitate the rollout of smart city applications. They need to work with an experienced partner who understands municipalities and help streamline their efforts to deploy quickly and efficiently.

At the end of the day, the smart city vision must have infrastructure to enable its execution. American Tower’s Innovation team will be exploring solutions to help smart cities accomplish their goals.

Patrice McAree is Vice President of Innovation at American Tower Corporation. He can be reached at
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