Smart Networks, Smart Cities & Smart Cows

pic for blog postThis is a blog post written by Frankie Brewer, Research Manager for the Broadband World Forum Global Series.

Since beginning work in this industry, I never cease to be amazed by the capacity for innovation in the most curious of places.

This week I’ve been reading about ‘Smart Cows’ and smart farms in my home nation of Australia.

Basically, the cows are fitted with tags in their ears that transmit their location to a digital map of the farm or property.  This allows farmers to track herd movements, find stock, understand pasture preferences and ultimately grow their farming business.

Appropriately dubbed ‘the internet of cows’ the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) in Australia says broadband and sensor networks viable because of the NBN, will ”transform” farming.

Pretty cool stuff.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  As more of the Australian population is given access to superfast broadband with the NBN, it seems the possibilities are endless.  Broadband hotspots and sensor technology being rolled out across farms are meaning applications like video conferencing can also be used for remote services like vet ‘visits’ which saves farmers crucial time and money.

But innovations with the internet of things and broadband enabled services which are revolutionising the way we live and do business obviously didn’t start in the Aussie outback.  We are all fairly familiar with the concept of Smart Cities with the latest example of “Connected Boulevard” in Nice taking centre stage in trade press last week. Over 200 different sensors on Boulevard Victor Hugo capture & analyse data to offer the city context-aware information on street lighting, waste disposal, parking, traffic as well as environmental quality as experienced in real time.

But Connected Boulevard is made up of more than just sensors and devices. The city’s hybrid network infrastructure, including its Wi-Fi network will allow a plethora of new applications and services to be developed for city managers, businesses and residents.

I’m on a bit of a smart city, internet of things kick at the moment also because this year Broadband World Forum for the first time ever is featuring a Smart City Keynote session.

Barcelona is one of the really interesting cases which use ICT as a vital motor for innovation. The city’s CIO, Manel Sanromá will give a keynote address on the achievements and experience in Barcelona’s smart city journey. His talk will be complemented by three very different Smart City Keynote Speakers – Taïsei Miura, President & Director General, of smart metering operator – M20 Smart City who will present his views on ‘The Promise of the Internet of Things & the Road to Successful Smart Cities’. We will also hear from the Chief Commercial Officer of London City Airport, Matthew Hall whose story is particularly interesting on the development of their “Smart Airport Experience”.

Ovum analyst Joe Dignan has described airports as “a wonderful microcosm of the wider city environment” because they have all the sorts of services a city has such as accommodation, safety, ticketing etc, which require the sharing of data between these ‘things’ via a common open operating system. I know I won’t be the only one keen to hear from Matthew on his lessons learnt from their experience and what the next steps might be!

So I suppose my question is, with smart cities, smart farms and smart cows – what’s next? Can we soon expect sensors to be embedded in sofa’s and lounge suites, able to determine our favorite sofa seated positions and tell us exactly how much time we spend lying around watching too much bad TV? It certainly seems possible these days – I’m just afraid of the answer!

For the time being, now’s a good time to learn more about advancements in smart cities.  I hope to see you all at Broadband World Forum for the brand new keynote feature!


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