Connecting the Dots – How Fiber Optics Supports Smart City Initiatives
Since its inception in 2012, the Lit San Leandro fiber optic loop has provided the opportunity for up to 10 gbps internet speeds throughout the City. In addition to providing businesses, public buildings, schools – and soon parks – lighting fast internet, the Lit and City fiber optic networks have enabled a number of Smart City initiatives in San Leandro. The City has been recognized nationally and internationally for its Smart City work, including most recently the Smart Cities Connect Smart 50 Award.
At the City Council Work Session on June 11, 2018, City staff and consultant Magellan Advisors presented the draft of the San Leandro Fiber Optics Master Plan. The goal of the plan is to assess current internet infrastructure and needs, identify broadband expansion opportunities, and develop a strategy for the City’s management of this valuable infrastructure.
As a part of the presentation, staff provided an update on the many Smart City initiatives in San Leandro and how they are integrated with our fiber optics infrastructure. Smart City activities can refer to a wide range of projects and programs that utilize technology and data to more efficiently manage assets and improve services. San Leandro has identified that its core Smart City goal is to utilize the fiber optics network to deliver technolgy that improves municipal operations and increases the quality of life for the community.
San Leandro’s Smart City initiatives are focused on eight areas:
- Digital Transformation – The City is continually working to convert analog and physical forms and procedures to the digital realm. The City has launched an Open Data Hub, making a wide range of information easily available through geoSL and CityDash. Meanwhile, mobile apps like mySL mobile 311 app allow residents to report non-emergency service requests, and ParkMobile is now available at meters throughout the City.
- Public Wi-Fi – The City has deployed Public Wi-Fi, known as SL Wifiber, in the downtown core and City facilities. A newly launched project is expanding the free Wi-Fi network to seven City parks and additional areas downtown. The network currently connects more than 13,000 devices connected, transmitting over 2TB of data, valued at over $30,000 in mobile internet service.
- Street Lights – The City has partnered with energy services integrator Climatec, to upgrade street lights to LED and connect each to a small data transmitter. Not only does this network allow for the City to remotely monitor and adjust street lights, it also has the ability to serve as a platform for future devices and sensors. These light poles will also be utilized for the installation of “small cell” wireless cellular devices, which will be deployed by carriers to increase service levels and mobile internet speeds, paving the way for the next generation of mobile technology: 5G. The Master Plan positions San Leandro to enable citywide deployment of this cutting-edge technology.
- Smart Buildings – With City facilities connected to fiber optic internet, they can be transformed into “smart buildings,” with the ability to provide centralized telecommunications services, integrated HVAC, security, climate control, and lighting systems. Through the Climatec project, in partnership with local tech firm OSIsoft, visitors will soon be able to view energy usage on a “dashboard” screen at City Hall and the Main Library, as well as online in the City’s Open Data Hub.
- Mobility/Transit – Connection of traffic signals to the fiber optic network enables the deployment of adaptive traffic signal technology, which adjusts signal patterns according to real-time traffic needs, optimizing traffic flow and reducing congestion. This technology has already been deployed near the new Kaiser hospital, and future expansions are planned, providing the groundwork for express buses, autonomous cars, ride-sharing, and more.
- Digital Inclusion – There is also potential for the City’s fiber optics network to address digital inclusion, improving resident’s ability to access the internet and communications technology. The potential to provide wider public internet access, and improve resident’s technology skills or “digital literacy” are being explored.
- Public Safety – In April, the Police Department presented a potential plan to utilize security cameras along the fiber network. The implementation of “smart” technology has the potential to improve public safety, opening the possibilities to better utilize available data in crime prevention analysis, which can ultimately improve the quality of life for residents of San Leandro.
To include the voice of the community in these initiatives, a potential next step is to assemble a Smart City Advisory Board to provide input on the development and implementation of this vision. Additional measures will include recommendations on managing the fiber asset and identification of policies and partnerships that will help San Leandro achieve its goals. This Smart City Plan will help San Leandro maintain its leadership in this area by maximizing the benefits of its fiber optics network.
While comprehensive in nature, the Smart City Strategy is only one component of the Fiber Optics Master Plan. Stay tuned for a future post on the Broadband Strategy, which will address the results from Magellan’s research, including a residential and business broadband needs and market analysis.