A smart city is a profitable city

‘Smart pavements’ may make the headlines, but it’s future-proof connectivity married to a sustainable commercial model that will deliver true smart city growth.

Reported widely in the press last month was Chesham, the UK’s first town to be fitted with a public WiFi network, powered by access points installed under it’s pavements. Just another example of how WiFi – a bastion of efficient wireless connectivity for the 15 years – has the constant means for reinvention, to be harnessed in innovative ways for the connectivity needs of today.

WiFi pavements are doubtless impressive and sure to grab the headlines, but then so are sheep fitted with WiFi, or the fact that Mount Fuji, Japan, now has WiFi connectivity. The fact is, such innovations in providing WiFi connectivity and, indeed, even public WiFi projects that draw upon more traditional forms of providing coverage, are only one piece of the puzzle.

Putting sustainability into a smart city

The provision of WiFi to towns and cities (no matter how elaborate or innovative it might be) in a bid to, in time, make them ‘smarter’, has to go beyond simply being a means of getting people online. It needs to provide councils with the further incentive of benefitting commercially from the project – either through the removal of significant and prohibitive capital investment, or the prospect of sharing in associated revenues. A case then, not so much of the technology itself, but of the wider implications.

As an example from the broader connectivity arena, take the implementation of ‘Oyster’ technology to the transport system in London*.

The cost of producing tickets accounted for nearly 15% of the London Tube’s running overheads before the introduction of Oyster. Now it is below 10%, with the introduction of Apple Pay and debit/credit card payments suggesting further cost reductions to a cost as small as 7.5% in the future.

Oyster – a smart technology – has therefore gone beyond bolstering the efficiency of London’s transport network (benefitting billions of passengers a year) to unlock significant funds for its operating body (Transport for London).

Choosing the right provider is key

The two biggest financial hurdles for councils looking to implement a public WiFi network – which is, crucially, free for users – are, firstly, the significant costs of installing and managing the network itself, and secondly, being able to fund the network in the longer term as a sustainable project.

While some providers may offer to install and manage a WiFi network, there are implications for the user – either costs to get online, restrictions in the amount of time that can be spent connected or in bandwidth. Furthermore, as a council, can you afford to pay to retain a network for a long period of time – long enough to take advantage of the future benefits of a connected, smarter city?

It might come as a surprise that there are expert providers out there that can not only deliver efficient, open, truly free WiFi networks – at no cost for the councils, or users, at any time in the lifespan of the service – but can also make those networks work, providing broad revenue-generating opportunities to benefit town and city economies.


Get In Touch

Whether you’re a local authority looking to provide public WiFi or seeking a connectivity solution for Smart Cities, the IoT or 5G / Small Cells in your town or city, or if you are interested in partnering with us around the Connected City Platform in any of our forthcoming town and city roll-outs, we’d love to explain more about who we are and what we do.

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