Wi-Fi could be crucial for smart cities, if barriers are broken, survey finds

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Interference, power and backhaul have been identified as the three main barriers to installing public Wi-Fi, but the technology is seen as "crucial" to enabling smart cities, new research has found.

The survey, from Wi-Fi provider Ruckus Wireless, found 76 percent of respondents from across the public sector in Europe said the technology was the most important factor to successfully deploying a smart city and 34 percent arguing its deployment should be prioritised.

The vendor said the technology's main advantage was its familiarity. Nick Watson, VP of Ruckless Wireless EMEA, said: “If you want to be able to connect with your citizens and make the offered services more effective, you will need the appropriate infrastructure to connect with the public in a way that benefits them.”

To do so, smart city providers will need to overcome the most common barriers. Respondents said these were power-supply, listed by 53 percent of respondents, interference (52 percent) and backhaul (45 percent). These issues will become more pertinent as the number of connected devices increase.

Other areas that need attention are ensuring a cross-organisational approach from city-planners. Almost 40 percent of respondents said siloed organisations were a roadblock to truly connected smart cities. Funding was also another difficulty raised although 78 percent of respondents said they expected to have the necessary budget to deploy smart city solutions.

However, the survey found a clear appetite for smart cities, with 78 percent of respondents saying there was a "strong" business case for investing, 20 percent saying prestige was another plus, building infrastructure for the future was an advantage for 19 percent of respondents, and 18 percent saying it would attract new businesses.

Watson added: "While it is reassuring to see a widespread belief that smart cities can provide value to society, if governments and public-sector bodies don’t invest in the right technology, they risk missing out on the fantastic opportunities for cities, citizens and officials through additional revenue.”