To Truly Become “Smart,” Cities Must Embrace Connectivity

04/05/2022 | Mitch Klein | 2 Min Read

To Truly Become “Smart,” Cities Must Embrace Connectivity

One of the hallmarks of the Internet of Things (IoT) is how many different devices there are and how many of them provide different functions, using different protocols and technologies, as part of different ecosystems. But what if I told you that there is one Thing that 4.2 billion people, or roughly 55% of the global population, interact with multiple times every day and have been for thousands of years? It's a bit of a trick question because most people associate the IoT with cameras, speakers, and other devices, but today we are talking about something more encompassing than those: cities.

Cities: New World Potential with Old World Problems

As I mentioned above, the World Bank estimates that 4.2 billion people live in cities. All of them interact with their city in various ways, whether that’s waiting at traffic signals, trying to understand when their bus will arrive, filing a request for city services like fixing an electrical outage, and much more. All of these interactions and daily monitoring of a city generate enormous amounts of data, with some estimating that a standard city generates 180 million gigabytes per day. To give you a sense of scale, that’s roughly the same amount of data needed to watch 26 million hours of streaming HD video.

However, with the exception of a few early adopters globally, much of that data resides in silos, collected and analyzed for a particular purpose while the potential of using it to help the city run smoother and to improve the ability of citizens to interact with it remains limited.

The forecast calls for Wi-SUN

To break down these silos and truly tap and exploit the potential of a Smart City, what’s needed is an end to end, unified system that links together all of the functions within the city not only to gather data, but to allow broad interactions for everyone in the city, from municipal managers to residents. We at Silicon Labs recognized this need early, and we started to build a set of solutions around a network called Wireless Smart Ubiquitous Network, or Wi-SUN.

Wi-SUN is the ideal Smart City network because it enables interoperable, multi-service, and secure wireless mesh networks. Wi-SUN can be used for large-scale outdoor IoT wireless communication networks in various applications covering both line-powered and battery-powered nodes. And cities have thousands of outdoor nodes, including stoplights, cameras, energy transfer stations, powerlines, sewage systems, and more. Everything that operates for the functionality of a city can be treated as a data node.

New Silicon Labs FAN-certified Wi-SUN Border Router Provides the Links a Smart City Needs

The near-incalculable number of these nodes requires a network like Wi-SUN that can spread easily outdoors and can be received and transmitted by a variety of devices, and being able to link all of those nodes together over a Wi-SUN network requires a robust router that can handle all of that traffic. That’s why today, Silicon Labs is announcing a new Wi-SUN Field Area Network (FAN)-certified Border Router. A border router manages the Wi-SUN mesh network, overseeing the network management and providing internet connectivity to other devices in the network. The Wi-SUN Border Router speeds time to market by quickening the pace of development, certification, and deployment in Smart Cities, and you can read more about it and how it can be implemented in a Wi-SUN network in our technical documentation, Getting Started: Silicon Labs Wi-SUN Linux Border Router Reference Solution.


Wi-SUN: Connecting the Smart Cities of the Future

However, it takes more than one router to make a complete and functioning Smart City. Over the next few months, we’re going to be having an ongoing discussion about Smarter Cities and Wi-SUN, diving deep into what Wi-SUN is, how it compares to other protocols in the market, how it can be deployed, and sharing industry perspectives and customer successes using Wi-SUN.

Is there a topic you’d like to learn more about on Wi-SUN? If so, let us know on our social media channels on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Mitch Klein
Mitch Klein
Director of Alliances Strategy, Silicon Labs
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