Gothenburg joins smart cities bandwagon

Gothenburg joins smart cities bandwagon

Gothenburg in Sweden has become the latest European city to develop a LoRa wireless network as part of a smart cities project rolling out across the continent.

This comes as France and Italy recently deployed the technology. In Rome, telecoms firm Unidata has used the technology to create a low power, wide area network throughout Italy.

Meanwhile, France-based mobile operator Orange has adopted the LoRa wireless network in a bid to support the rollout of smart cities across the country.

Building necessary foundations

In the Swedish city of Gothenburg, telco Tele2 and IoT specialist TalkPool are in the process of building the infrastructure needed for customers to test and develop devices and software capable of working on the network.

The firms are currently looking at a variety of different applications, primarily covering smart cities, public transportation, smart metering, pest control, asset tracking and environmental monitoring.

Developed by an alliance of IoT companies, LoRaWAN is a specification using technology from chipset company Semtech. Tele2 expects its network to go live in Q3 of 2016.

Right decision

Robert Spertina, managing director at TalkPool, believes it made the right choice when it came to finding the right network technology to support a busy city.

“We chose a LoRa-based IoT technology because it offered a combination of long range wireless connectivity, low energy consumption, low cost and telecom grade security, which are all very important considerations when you plan to roll out a network to a large metropolitan area,” he said.

“In addition, the network substantially reduces infrastructure and end node costs by eliminating repeaters and increasing battery lifetime which means sensors can last for years without needing their batteries replaced.”

Related: Smart city projects squander billions as IoT standards go awry

Smart cities are essential

Remy Marcotorchino, director of marketing at Sierra Wireless, said smart cities are essential with urban environments and populations growing. He sees them a way of dealing with stress on infrastructure such as transport and water.

He said: “By 2050, 70 percent of the world will be living in urban environments, creating further stress on energy, water, transportation, and waste management systems.

“Smarter ways to manage cities growing at this rate are essential if vital services are going to work efficiently and this global trend offers unprecedented opportunities for governments and information and communication technologies (ICT) leaders to help make significant improvements to resource utilisation.

“The Internet of Things (IoT) offers new models for cities to significantly enhance livability while managing resources and creating new business models for how city authorities run and fund services.  It’s the opportunity to make cities more efficient, greener and safer.”

David Warrender, CEO of Innovation Point, also spoke about benefits: “The Smart City of tomorrow will put innovation front and centre, delivering better social and economic outcomes for its citizens.

“Smart city projects are often about bringing multiple sectors and markets together in a new way to offer solutions which enhance and improve daily life within a city, such as linking data from traffic congestion sensors to paramedic management systems.

Challenges ahead

Sarat Pediredla, CEO of Hedgehog Lab, told Internet of Business that despite the many benefits, smart cities bring a plethora of challenges with them.

“One thing I think that is not being answered is how are these ‘always on, device-driven’ smart cities going to be powered. While IoT battery and power consumption is improving rapidly, many urban areas are already facing a crisis of energy,” he said.

“Without abundant and constant electricity, smart cities will struggle with a plan B. To truly solve the smart city paradigm, we need to look first at clean tech, batteries and energy solutions which is something the tech world seems to have a completely blind eye to and policymakers don’t necessarily want to prioritise.”

Adam Leach, director of research and development at Nominet, said: “Developers can currently be hampered by uncertainty, caused by a lack of interoperability and security. It needs an agreed-upon, scalable and – most importantly – repeatable solution that can tie all the parts together.

“Then smart city technology should have a place on every councils’ budget, especially given the savings and efficiencies that could be gained in the years to come.”

Related: London ranked third in smart city index