The implementation of sensor networks and smart infrastructure systems can be done as part of maintenance efforts and for greenfield developments, which will help to improve infrastructure resilience and service delivery, says networking multinational Ruckus Networks sub-Saharan Africa sales director Riaan Graham.
South Africa is not implementing smart systems as part of its infrastructure roll-out. Smart city and infrastructure projects are developed in isolated areas and cities without a unifying framework to drive their use.
While there are pockets where smart systems and Internet of Things networks are being built, there are no national or provincial blueprints to ensure that all projects at least support the broader use of these systems in the future, adds Graham.Lagging Behind
“We are lagging behind international smart city trends and the benefits that smart infrastructure systems bring include better visibility, performance, reliability and lower maintenance costs of infrastructure,” he says.
However, while the dilapidated condition of much of the infrastructure increases the costs of routine maintenance and often necessitates extensive repairs, this provides an effective point for introducing smart systems to existing infrastructure, while helping to improve its performance and reducing the chance of these repaired systems falling into disrepair again.
“Smart infrastructure is not a one-off project, but rather a long-term change to the way that city and municipal councils function and how infrastructure is built, run and maintained. “Specifically, smart systems allow for better use of infrastructure and more efficient service delivery, which is critical if South Africa is to overcome its development deficit,” he explains.
Smart city systems can be retrofitted in most use cases, and the need is to have an overarching developmental framework to drive the deployment of smart systems within private- and public-sector developments, he adds.
Graham says the implementation of smart systems at private developments, including new business parks or residential areas, should be encouraged to implement smart systems as part of their development: “Smart systems can improve a range of services and public infrastructure.”
A precinct that uses smart systems to improve traffic flow, ensure the security of its residents and provide access to information for them reinforces the desirability of the development for residents and businesses, he explains.
Graham points to security camera systems that are linked to low-cost audio sensors. These sensors detect gunshots and all the cameras in the immediate area automatically focus on the source of the sound, helping to improve the detection of crimes and the apprehension of the culprits.
“Smart systems are about improving the everyday living environment for citizens and the underlying infrastructure to improve service efficiency.”
Graham adds that, to crowd in private-sector involvement, incentives will increase demand for smart systems, as residents of smart-enabled developments have access to a range of information while directly monitoring their own costs and service use.