Smart technology through my lens
By Ankur Walia
Smart technology is quickly becoming a buzz word and everyone is talking about it. Individuals have started making their Homes into a Smart Environment space, whether managing their lighting, entertainment, security or gaming experience. Corporates are turning their infrastructure Smarter. Councils and government are in the process of getting Smart capabilities, enabling them to get better control over their city assets.
With this article, I would like to start with best practices to transition from a traditional model onto a Smart City Environment, and moving forward, discuss an overview of Network topologies that are available today.
The first step towards building a Smart network block, is building a trust relationship between the Service Provider, Hardware Vendor and software provider, integrating their services together and thus building a reliable and strong Network.
As Steve mentions in his article (Alexander, 2017): The rush to creating a smart city is understandable; it’s simply a better way for a city to operate. But it’s worth taking a step back, looking at the fundamentals and determining if we know what we are trying to accomplish with “smart.” Ensuring, first and foremost, that everything can work together, that we have the needed topology of connectivity, and that we have the capacity available to keep it working. Otherwise, while the smart city of tomorrow might be smarter than most, we’ll always be left wondering if we left some intelligence in the tank.
It is always a best practice to take advice from Consultants, who would bring in their skills and expertise to bridge the gap, between the various stakeholders. This approach limits the number of point of contacts for the Council or Municipalities, and makes them adopt multi-vendor products to a single network. Consulting also helps finding a feasible and a flexible approach for the transition, as they would work with multiple vendors simultaneously and will advise suitable hardware which can best fits the environment.
Network Topology plays a vital part to build a robust and cost effective Smart infrastructure. A smart city requires a strong and reliable communication network.
Consideration for Network Topologies is very important, as this builds the back bone for the Smart City Infrastructure. There are few questions to be considered before deciding on the right network topology that should be used in this instance. How many devices do I need to connect? What should be the range of my network? What is the topography of the region? Is it mostly a one-way communication or is it always a two-way communication? What is the size of the data to be transferred?
Below are 2 best available network topologies, that can help transition to Smart City.
1. Mesh Topology:
In its simplest form, Mesh network works similar to Chinese whispers, a game where message is sent from one to another after whispering from one person to another. Gateway or an Access Point replaces the First person sending a message and all the other connected nodes pass the message until it reaches the destination. The message is securely encrypted when passed. Industry standards (Brian Ray, 2018)using Mesh are Zigbee, Z-wave and Thread
2. Star Network:
This is the most commonly used network. In Star Network Gateway or an Access Point acts as a centralized hub connected to all terminal nodes. This Gateway act as a common connection point for all other connected Nodes.
Each Node has a secured encrypted connection to the gateway. One of the industrial standard is LPWAN (low Power Wide Ares Network) Smart technology has now a choice, however following a guided Roadmap can benefit smooth transition from a traditional approach to building a Smart environment. Scope and fundamentals should be carefully considered before implementing the network.
Clients are investing a lot on transitioning and building smart environment, to achieve energy efficient and cost effective solution, however if the infrastructure is not carefully built it can lead to more investment. Therefore, consulting experts, is always a Smarter choice.
At Sylvania Connected Solutions (SCS), we source multiple technologies to suit different client environments, whether these are networks, devices or platforms, and have the skills and expertise to help organizations achieve their goals in transforming Cities into a Smart environment.
References Alexander, S. (2017, July 5). Making smart cities a smarter way. Retrieved from Network World: https://www.networkworld.com/article/3210747/sensors/making-smart-cities-a-smarter-way.html Brian Ray. (2018, January 9). Comparing Mesh, Star & Point-To-Point Topology In IoT Networking. Retrieved from Link Labs: https://www.link-labs.com/blog/iot-topology
Written by Ankur Walia
Network Engineer SCS