Empowering municipal government through data
By Chip Strange
Unless there’s an open stream of data collection and exchange between public and private organizations and businesses involved, smart city initiatives are doomed to fail. However, cities are sitting on a goldmine of data that they can tap into to support smart initiatives, and through deeper insight into users’ network experiences, can better understand what provides value.
The infrastructure make-or-break situation
Technology now exists to easily access and monitor countless data points via assets municipalities already own. It is no longer necessary to invest in high-TCO specialized devices and software to gather the data that smart initiatives require, nor to rely solely on costly drive tests that measure a modicum of the potential data that can be harvested at a single point in time.
Rather, municipalities can now easily leverage their existing network of assets to achieve their aims. Police, Fire and Medical emergency services, government vehicles of all sorts, and especially the local transportation systems can utilize current-generation mobile devices to gain complete, ongoing visibility into network effectiveness and Quality of Experience (QoE) at a device level.
Using a lightweight app or crowdsourced SDK on these devices around the city can help decision makers capture that data on their local wireless networks — at scale and on a daily basis – and then use it to their advantage.
In-building coverage can create or prevent initiative success
When envisioning a smart city initiative, it’s recognized that as more people rely on wireless connectivity at work and at home, they must have a seamless and high-quality coverage experience. Cities and the companies they leverage can succeed with a few basic tasks and requirements.
First, by proactively testing the quality of existing indoor coverage networks, gaps in coverage can be identified and addressed to the benefit of the municipality, rather than solely benefiting a third-party vendor. Ensuring adequate indoor coverage creates the seamless coverage experience required by citizens and governmental staff alike.
Then, small cell and DAS locations should be easily viewed via a simple-to-use platform. Through comprehensive, over-time data gathering and analysis via existing municipality assets and infrastructure, opportunities to enhance and improve these locations become apparent, and poorly performing third party operators can be identified and replaced. All without the need for new, costly infrastructure or reliance on yet more vendors, who are more concerned with company revenues than resident quality of experience.
Lastly, ensuring seamless in-building coverage is available enables first responders to function at peak effectiveness, utilizing the latest connected devices throughout the call response process.
Exploring the benefits to local communities
With in-depth, ongoing visibility into the entire spectrum of users’ QoE, both local leaders and businesses are in a better position to provide services, maximize technology investments and determine the overall quality of experience throughout the local area. City managers and IT departments can leverage the data and take ownership of their citizen’s network experiences to ensure networks are available in all areas, narrowing the digital divide. School districts can ensure coverage to campuses, and that all students have baseline network experiences, creating ongoing opportunities to benefit the local communities.
Exploring the benefits to local government and businesses
Always-on wireless data collection capability gives local decision makers information needed to determine whether they are using the best network provider for their city’s current and future growth. It enables local governments to get in the driver’s seat, to lobby for reliable coverage from their technology partners, and to have the data to fully support decisions and demands. Improved coverage also means better public services, more innovation and happier residents overall.
When designing and implementing smart city initiatives, cities empowered through data via ongoing monitoring within existing infrastructure are left with a detailed and unbiased view of the wireless communications landscape. This allows local leaders and businesses to confidently provide services to their communities, maximize technology investments and determine the overall Quality of Experience throughout the local area.
Chip Strange is the vice president of strategy and business development at Mosaik, a mobile coverage data and network intelligence company.