Nokia and the City of Hamilton: Smart City Innovations

By William Smith
Nokia Canada’s Shawn Sparling, VP Enterprise and Public Sector, Nokia Canada, discusses the company’s smart city work with the City of Hamilton...

“Our ambition as a company is to create an inclusive, digital world,” says Shawn Sparling, VP Enterprise and Public Sector at Nokia Canada. Achieving that requires network connectivity, something in which the company is a specialist. “We look at networks as foundational to bringing that inclusiveness to the world, whether we’re talking about smart cities or rural areas. That’s especially true in today’s world where our technology is helping communities secure access to healthcare and education.” Nokia provides the infrastructure that make this possible. “At Nokia, we offer the foundation through optical networks, high-speed networks, home IP routing, and of course, wireless 4G and 5G connectivity.”

In recent times, Sparling has seen the industry shift towards more efficient and greener solutions, alongside a move towards virtualization. “This creates complexity but also enables a quicker turnaround to new solutions. With technology changing so fast we’re focused on creating cities that are connected and smart, while simultaneously being safer and more efficient.”

It is precisely this impetus that has driven Nokia to partner with the City of Hamilton. “We're outcome-based, so the question really was: what do they need? What are the issues that they're facing as the city? Whether it's air quality, traffic, or responsiveness to health emergencies.” Aside from working directly with the city, Nokia also works with service providers. “We're one of the largest suppliers to network operators across Canada and our equipment is bringing connectivity to homes across the country,” says Sparling.

The benefits of a smart city are manifold. “It attracts industry for one, but it also enables new ways to provide education for our children and allows flexibility for workers,” says Sparling. “That ongoing work with the city is what we see as really beneficial. It's been exciting to work on this project. We're seeing a lot of opportunity and look forward to helping create the next generation of cities.”

Sparling anticipates that next generation to be driven by sensors which can be repurposed for different applications. “It was a very siloed world before. Now what we're doing is really looking at leveraging data into an integrated operations command and control centre. Leveraging those open assets while of course remaining secure.” Automation is another area growing in importance. “With that complexity, we need to start to automate so we can react more quickly. We can take information from four or five devices and have the system make a decision or notify an operator as to what might be happening.”

Another key trend is the move to operational simplification. “One of the things we've done is make it simple enough that with very easy training, you can take a piece of equipment, plug it in, turn it on, bring it up and operate that network within 10 minutes. Something that previously took weeks is now a 10-minute exercise to have a 4G or 5G wireless network fully up and running.” Going forward, the uptake in smart city solutions is only set to accelerate. “It's an exciting time to be in the industry, and we've enjoyed working with the City of Hamilton to bring innovative technology that will serve to make the community a safer and more efficient place.”

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