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In our previous blogs, we’ve taken an in-depth look at smart cities and the transformation of physical infrastructure that will be required to make them a reality.Interestingly, the Financial Times recently published an article exploring in more detail how range, cost and speed will be the key factors determining which technologies will be used for which jobs in future smart cities.

There is a host of technologies included in this analysis, from 5G to AI, all of which will undoubtedly have a role in the future of smart cities. The article also references the importance of a much less heralded technology – fibre optic cables.

“Range, cost and speed will be the key factors determining which technologies will be used”

The general principle behind smart cites is that technology can be used to link authorities and interested organisations with the wider environment and enable a level of insight and automation that improves a range of health, commercial and quality of life outcomes for citizens. This means that there is set to be an exponential proliferation in sensor, communication and control technologies in cities in the coming years. What is required is something that can handle all of the data these networks will produce.

In recent years fibre optic cables have been installed extensively throughout urbanised areas. More importantly though, a single thread of fibre can carry a stream of data, of virtually limitless capacity. And this is the crucial glue that will hold smart cities together in the future.

“We are entering the age of a ‘million sensors’, the potential impact to our urban lives being unprecedented”

As accurate as this analysis of the importance of fibre optic cables is, there is another piece of the puzzle that city planners need to take into consideration. With Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS), fibre optic cables can be optimised to do so much more than just carry torrents of data.

DAS converts cables into a network of state-of-the-art sensors, allowing municipalities to not only send and receive information, but also to monitor city infrastructure continuously, in real-time and on a much more detailed level.

This would provide newly digitalised departments with a whole new level of insight into the state of city assets. With DAS, local authorities would be able to detect issues and prepare responses in real-time, minimising disruption. Whether it be increasing perimeter security around key buildings, detecting leaks in water and sewage piping or maintaining the National Grid, these fibres enabled monitoring platforms bring a whole new layer of intelligence to smart city projects.

By deploying DAS alongside other smart city technologies and applications, municipalities will be able to monitor, safeguard and optimise an entire range of public services and utilities. If a city is to be truly “smart”, then fibre optic cables need to be seen as much more than a conduit for data.DAS Smart City Future