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Digital services and infrastructure of a Smart City

30.07.2019

We are living in fast changing times, moving towards the digital world. The role of data transmission becomes crucial when entire factories are being automated using robotics and artificial intelligence, doctors are performing surgeries remotely and self-driving cars populate the roads.

5G technology has been developed to meet the new data transmission requirements, including capacity, reliability, information security and low latency (delay).

Building of data communication networks is changing, which requires new solutions, together with interdisciplinary cooperation.

Smart City services

Smart City älypylväsCabling will be hidden out of sight

Compared to previous mobile technologies, 5G is operates in higher frequencies and the signal distance is much shorter. This means that we need a denser network of base stations.

Orbis Oy ensures that its own production and product development can meet these changing needs. Orbis produces its own fibre optic and power supply cabling solutions. We now utilise this know-how to develop new, easy-to-use products. One such new solution is cabling for a smart light pole.

One aim in the development process is to make the technology invisible in urban environment both for aesthetic reasons and to prevent vandalism. Benches can be placed at the foot of the streetlight pole to hide the technology. Smart light poles are just one example of how to hide technology, other options include bus stops, property façades and street signs. Time will tell what kind of solutions will be developed.

Data centres by the street

If a self-driving car is driving along the streets of Helsinki but the car's server is located in Oulu (600km away), this adds a delay of ten milliseconds to the data transmission. So, a significant aspect of digital data transfer is where the data is located and where it is processed.

We are used to data centres consisting of large halls of several thousand square metres, with rows of racks with servers. Smart cities will have small data centres such as remotely controlled street cabinets. To have this kind of technology where these small street cabinets can become reality, new products and services need to be developed.

Automatic optical switch has no delay

The number of fibre optic cables used in data transmission will increase and several cross-connections will be required when building networks. Manual network maintenance and modification is slow, expensive and prone to human error.

Huber+Suhner, one of the principals represented by Orbis, manufactures fully optical Polatis switches. Fibre optic cables are connected to the switch once, after which all operations over the network are conducted remotely. In addition to remote control, optical switches can also be used to backup critical services. If a line is about to break, the switch will automatically change to a pre-programmed alternative route. When a device is fully automatic and optical, it is also completely free from delay, which is extremely important in 5G technology.

Partnerships provide comprehensive solution

Infrastructure on its own does not make a smart city, so partnerships are required in order to build a comprehensive solution. Several components have to work together in order for end-users to be able to use the new digital services. Optimisation of just one area is not enough.

We look forward to hearing about the needs and ideas that the new technology brings. Let's solve these together!

(This text is a summary of the Orbis presentation given by CEO Jani Linna-Aro and Account manager Pasi Hopponen at the Trade Fair for Electricity and Information Networks 2019 in Finland.)

Written by: Paula Meuronen

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