Smart spaces: enhanced, connected urban environments of tomorrow

Smart spaces are physical environments enabled by technology to make life easier and more comfortable, campuses more pleasant, companies more efficient and productive, and cities smarter and more sustainable. They are immersive, interactive spaces that use digital solutions to connect people, processes, services, and systems to the benefit of all.

The rapid advance of digital technology has seen smart cities fast become part of everyday life: intelligent waste management systems, smart street lighting and traffic management, and connected air quality sensors are just a few real-world examples already in place. But more than that, we’re all now becoming used to digital workplaces, connected factories and smart homes—which all leverage connectivity and data to give us better experiences.

Moving forward, smart spaces are expected to keep transforming daily life in so many ways. Smart buildings, smart campuses and smart cities are all set to enhance experiences for visitors and residents, to help businesses reduce costs and drive sustainability, and—thanks to data analysis—improve services and systems on an ongoing basis.

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In this article we will look at the technologies that are powering smart buildings, smart campuses, and smart cities today and equipping them for continuous transformation tomorrow.

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Our connected world

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Connectivity: the fourth utility powering smart cities, campuses, and buildings

 
By 2050, 68 percent of the world’s population of 9.8 billion will live in urban areas1 . It is projected that India will have added 416 million urban dwellers and China 255 million by then.

It’s not difficult to predict that this shift will likely require urban areas to leverage digital tools to drive innovative and sustainable infrastructure solutions that efficiently harness data, energy, space, budgets, and time. It’s a more sustainable and efficient approach that also improves the quality of life for citizens in these communities. This is the vision of a smart city: a sustainable space built on ubiquitous, high-performance, reliable connectivity and data.

Whether a university, hospital or corporate headquarters, all campuses face unique challenges around communication networks. Speed, capacity, flexibility, scalability, and cost all must be factored into connectivity decision-making.

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One common error in planning smart spaces is developing siloed applications to solve short-term challenges. Instead, we recommend taking a long-term, visionary approach using a federated solutions model: It will be more cost-effective in the long run and provide a digital connectivity platform on which communities will be able to build applications and hardware. It isn’t enough for site developers to focus on isolated projects like hospitals, corporate HQs, or sports venues. These assets all need digital interconnection throughout to give end users an enhanced experience. This thinking should extend to parking, traffic management, crowd management, retail outlets and restaurants around buildings and spaces, and how they can positively impact the user experience.

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What is a smart space?

What are the differences between a standard building, campus or city and a smart building, campus or city? Digital innovation that puts the user experience in the space first.

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Standard space

Independent and separate infrastructure for different networks

Proprietary space management

No infrastructure to support IoT

No dedicated indoor mobile network or coverage from outdoors

Separate power and connectivity grids, often siloed by applications and not always covering entire space

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Smart space

Convergent network, single, unified IP over Ethernet physical network layer

Integrated, IP-based space management systems

Future-ready infrastructure able to support Internet of Things (IoT) applications and devices

In-building cellular coverage

Integrated power and connectivity systems

 

Different types of spaces

Smart trends and drivers

Our vision for connected smart spaces

We help our customers prepare themselves and their networks for each technological paradigm shift, and our experts have helped shape the standards for each new generation of tools and solutions.

We see smart campus networks in a very similar way: a high-tech grid of power + connectivity + infrastructure distributed through an environment—enabling the addition of plug-and-play devices and applications without the need for construction and related time, expense, and disruption. It is a modular, adaptable, agile approach.

As wireless technologies like 5G, Wi-Fi 6, IoT and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) rapidly evolve, we believe a more robust backbone will be needed to support connectivity and power to new edge devices. Low-latency applications like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and remote robotic surgeries require processing closer to the edge. We expect the use of mobile edge computing (MEC) to increase greatly moving forward—prompting a need for more concealment solutions in public spaces and fiber deeper into the network.

Our extensive solution portfolio—including copper to power edge devices; fiber to deliver broadband connectivity; and licensed, unlicensed and private wireless network solutions—makes CommScope uniquely qualified.

In smart buildings, networking applications and technologies like 2.5G/5G/10G Ethernet, power over Ethernet (PoE), and HDBaseT are continuously evolving. However, this evolution is taking them all closer to a single, converged infrastructure.

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As this convergence continues, new opportunities to integrate real estate, IT and building management and facilities applications into a single, simplified network infrastructure running on twisted-pair copper cabling (Ethernet cabling) will emerge. Today, the convergent network supports diverse applications such as:

  • Wi-Fi
  • In-building wireless (IBW)
  • Intelligent LED lighting and sensors
  • Audio/visual systems
  • Security and access control
  • Building automation
  • Sound-masking audio systems

Improved cost, reliability, and agility: From an operational standpoint, this integration is preferable to maintaining a variety of wired and wireless topologies—each requiring its own materials, expertise, and management. A single intelligent network infrastructure that can manage all on-site traffic in the enterprise could reduce installation costs by up to 50 percent and significantly reduce operating expenses in the long term.

Reducing how many separate networks you have delivers greater reliability, security, and availability. Because the framework is flexible and adaptive, it’s simple and economical to change or expand the systems it supports when you need to, while also maintaining maximum uptime.

Converging technologies onto a common infrastructure helps you solve multiple business challenges: Improved cost, reliability and agility are essential in today’s fast-changing world.

Technologies that enable “smartness”

Case studies: real-life examples

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City of San Jose
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Smart City Case Studies

Smart spaces resources

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Infographic

Future of smart cities

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Brochure

Welcome to the CommScope connected campus

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Solutions

Smart Cities

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White Paper

Connectivity as the 4th utility in smart cities

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Interactive

Tomorrow’s campuses need future-ready networks

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eBook

Introducing the Smart Campus

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Interactive

SYSTIMAX environment

Smart and sustainable: building the future with enhanced experiences and green benefits

Smart infrastructure can drive sustainability. We look at the technologies that can help your smart building drive you towards your net zero goals.

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