Smart Light Poles Shoulder The Heavy Responsibility Of Building A Smart City?

- Apr 11, 2019-

Since 5G base stations have the need to use high-frequency communications and support high-capacity and high-speed, the 5G era will require a large number of tiny base stations to complete more dense network coverage.

From the objective conditions, the promotion of smart cities is smooth, and it is closely related to the popularity of IoT devices, the maturity of broadband network deployment, the amount of data transmission and computing power of cloud data centers, and therefore the deployment of 5G base stations through streetlight poles. It will hope to drive the accelerated development of smart cities, and will also form a close relationship with the transformation and development of the 5G era.

The Internet of Things is helping, and the construction of smart cities is starting to take off

Take Barcelona, a model of smart cities in Europe, for example. Since 2008, it has started the pre-planning of smart cities, including the promotion of infrastructure from the beginning of urban planning and infrastructure; the use of monitoring technology in waste Material handling and intelligent street lighting to improve processing efficiency and achieve energy efficiency.

In many Asian countries, through the development of information-related policies, we have further developed a blueprint for the development of “smart cities” such as South Korea’s “u-City Smart City”, Japan’s “i-Japan Smart City” program, and MSC (Multimedia Super Corridor) promoted by Malaysia. Singapore's "Smart Nation", among which Singapore has adopted a number of smart transportation systems to improve traffic jams and traffic flow, ranking among the top in the global smart city rankings.

On the other hand, the pace of development of smart cities in China is accelerating.

From the 12th Five-Year Plan, China will build a new type of urbanization as a key development project, and encourage cities to accelerate the establishment of a smart city management system, including the establishment of a smart city pilot subsidy program to fully promote smart transportation, energy and monitoring applications.

For example, Taipei City and Taoyuan City in Taiwan will continue to promote smart streetlights in 2019. Among them, Taoyuan has planned Qingpu as a smart city test site, while Taipei has adopted a smart streetlight pilot as a powerful IoT platform to introduce intelligent lighting, safety warnings, traffic flow and flow count, parking space vacancy monitoring, and environment. Monitoring and digital billboard information broadcast and other functions.

According to the plan, Taipei will build 12,600 smart street lamps in 5 administrative districts in 2019. It is expected to gradually expand to Taipei throughout the next three years, and build more than 110,000 smart street lamps.

Smart light pole, 5G networked outpost

In the blueprint for the development of smart cities, street lights will be the central nerve for the city to transmit information. According to a report released by the American Wireless Communications and International Network Association (CTIA) in 2017, urban street lights will be an important infrastructure in the 5G era.

However, it is understood that the current range of urban street lights is about 20 to 30 meters, and the spacing of 5G base stations is about 100 to 200 meters. In other words, not every street light needs to be mounted on the base station, and it needs to be adjusted according to the coverage requirements.

In addition, the government owns the property of the lamppost. When the base station is placed on the pole, due to the increase of the current, the old pole must be subjected to cable reforming, power system configuration, etc., while the load capacity, wind resistance and mechanical structure are stable. Content must also be taken into account.

When the streetlight poles start to hang various monitoring devices, such as environmental monitoring, monitoring equipment and IoT devices, if there is no perfect integration plan, the scenes of various "hermit crabs" attached to the poles will appear. Taking into account the urban landscape will also become an important issue.

The more practical problem is that the funds and budget are limited. In recent years, the local governments have been encouraged to adopt a "multiple-in-one" social resource to build and share. However, relevant industry officials admit that although the government has specific targets for the promotion of 5G and has pilot programs in many cities, it is still difficult to apply a large number of applications in the short term. The reason is that the smart light poles used in the pilot are expensive, so the basis The re-construction of the construction will inevitably involve huge expenditures. It is estimated that about 240,000 streetlight poles in Shenzhen will be transformed into "multi-bar integration", and the initial calculation cost will be as high as RMB 50 billion.

Infrastructure construction is costly, business model needs to be established

It is worth exploring that the promotion of smart cities does not have to pass 5G. Although the basic functions of smart street lights need to be connected to the network, whether it is real-time traffic flow or security monitoring, environmental monitoring and other functions, through 4G LTE with NB-IoT ( Narrowband Internet of Things technology is still available. In other words, the smart city landing and 5G can't just be taken for granted. The biggest problem in implementing 5G is still whether the image transmission speed can be greatly improved, but if it is difficult to find a suitable business model, it will be difficult to recover huge amounts of money.

Although the outside world is full of good ideas for 5G and smart cities, the reality is that government funds and budgets are limited. After a small-scale pilot introduction, if you want to carry out large-scale and comprehensive promotion, you must first solve who pays and How to recover the cost problem. What kind of substantial benefits can be added by urban intelligence, and how much money the government can save is also a problem at this stage.

Perhaps the government, manufacturers and civilian funds through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) or Private Finance Initiative (PFI) model will have the opportunity to bring a win-win solution, but participants or only It is a small number of financially healthy companies: they must be able to support the transition phase of “investing first and then recycling” and then profit from energy efficiency and performance services.

In addition, the key to 5G promotion lies in the attitude of telecom operators. The dilemma facing operators today is that the 4G penetration rate has entered saturation, and as smartphone growth slows down, voice calls or networked charges are unlikely to bring revenue growth momentum, and a new wave of replacement is brought about by the 5G effect. The tide and application demand are regarded as market special effects drugs, but the 5G investment is huge, and the recovery period is unpredictable in the future. When the infrastructure construction is completed, what kind of business model should be used to make a profit. It seems that the prospect is still ambiguous.

Smart cities can't just be castles in the air or limited to small-scale test scenarios. The benefits of 5G bringing smart networking and urban transformation are visible and can be expected. However, the transformation of smart light poles must first solve the problem of the era of infrastructure construction. It also needs to be paired with 5G technology and mature commercial operation environment to get rich returns.