Smart cities and WiFi in digital evolution

Cities worldwide are harnessing the power of telecommunications and fast-paced technological developments to get themselves connected and working smarter and more efficiently in terms of use of resources, improved service delivery and quality of life, while supporting the low carbon economy.

By 2020, it is estimated that there will be 26.5 billion physical objects embedded with technology in an industry worth $1.9 trillion by that time. Therefore, key stakeholders in IT needs to understand the opportunity, the value and their role in developing Smart Cities.

Better services

According to the European Commission, digital technologies translate into better public services for citizens, better use of resources and less impact on the environment. By generating huge amounts of data then using that data intelligently, the possibilities are endless and the operational costs of delivering services will be reduced.

Smart cities and WiFi in digital evolution

The topic of smart cities is vast and incorporates a range of areas from green technologies to stricter, more measurable governance to improve efficiency around transport, buildings and other public services, amongst other things. All of these require digital solutions to get the cities properly connected.

Cities that don’t embrace the digital evolution won’t be able to keep up and will lose the consumer dollar. The benefits in terms of public service will be significant with everything connected - from traffic lights, to street lighting and parking information. Another trend will be the growth of open, accessible data that will be used to develop the apps that will deliver information to people’s fingertips, via mobile devices.

It’s expected that up to $40 billion will be spent on smart city technologies by 2016, making it an incredibly exciting market for businesses to be involved with. This also means things are moving very quickly as innovators come up with the technologies to deliver what cities need in terms of information and connectivity.

Efficiency and information sharing

Smart cities these days extend way beyond free WiFi and bus stop information displays. While some of us are still getting to grips with the roll out of controversial app-based schemes such as Uber taxis, certain cities across the globe are leaps and bounds ahead.

Boston taxis carry technology to identify potholes as they pass over them and send this real time information with a grid reference to public services officials who can then implement the necessary repairs. Major transport hubs are also jumping on the “smart-wagon” with airport’s installing smart toilets which send alerts to cleaners after a certain number of people have entered. Many cities are also investing in making their motorways and highways “smarter” by installing technology to monitor traffic, provide information to drivers and ease congestion by using variable speed limits. Railways are looking at RFID sensors on the lines and tiny cameras, to help report back via WiFi when lines are obstructed or damaged.

The success of these schemes can only be measured through the creation and sharing of data; something that Purple WiFi enables.

How venues benefit

From retailers to concert stadiums, helping visitors move around a city by pushing out information that will help them travel more easily, improve their environment and spend their consumer dollars in venues that genuinely meet their needs, is beneficial. If traffic is moving steadily, parking availability is communicated and sales and promotions are shared with them, consumers are more likely to invest their time visiting city and town centres, plan to come back soon, hopefully stay longer, and potentially spend more too.

Purple WiFi, the cloud-based social WiFi platform sees location services taking off massively in the next few years with Smartphone savvy citizens and existing users of legacy IT systems being the driving force for more location content and services to rival virtual environments. The outdoor WiFi market will rise from $15bn a year to 37bn by 2018; the indoor WiFi market will be considerably more, representing an addressable market that needs a business model to reap its projected rewards.

By allowing venues and outdoor public spaces greater connectivity, the future will be a digitally-led, improved experience for consumers and businesses alike - with less wasted resources and much more efficiency.

City WiFi

From Bangalore (India) to York (UK), entire cities are becoming free WiFi zones to support demands from residents, visitors and businesses.

In early 2014 Business Insider shared details of the nine cities with the best free WiFi globally and surprisingly very few were in the US or Europe. However given the explosion of cities realising they need to put city-wide WiFi in place we would expect the results to look quite different, just six months on.

As local authorities grasp the need to get their citizens online, wherever they are in the city, WiFi providers are in demand and the ones who offer the most value will come out on top. From a straightforward approach, to ease of installation and 24 hour technical support, the requirements are mainly the same. Purple WiFi can offer a whole lot more including presence analytics, heat mapping and location-based services.

Find out more about some of Purple WiFi’s city-wide WiFi projects: City of York and Faringdon.

With over 15 years experience working in technology led or enabled businesses, Purple WiFi CEO – Gavin Wheeldon has a deep understanding of the impact of technology on the bottom line of an organisation. Having recently sold his last business, Applied Language Solutions, a global language technology and services business, he set up So Purple Group with the prime focus on building an enterprise guest WiFi system that was end user friendly.

Smart cities and WiFi in digital evolution