Smart technologies: helping councils improve community services and sustainability

By Carmelo Calafiore*
Wednesday, 24 April, 2024

Smart technologies: helping councils improve community services and sustainability

When smart building technology is discussed, it’s usually in relation to how it can be put to use in commercial or residential settings. Smart access and lighting systems, climate control and security monitoring can add significant value to the businesses or individuals who opt to install them.

What’s less understood, however, are the ways in which smart building technologies can have a positive impact on local governments and the communities they serve. They can improve efficiencies, lower costs and boost productivity. This stems from the fact that one of the main challenges faced by local governments is the need to improve the quality of life for residents while at the same time maintaining a sustainable environment.

A smart building infrastructure can help reduce energy consumption and emissions through advanced technologies such as energy-efficient lighting, smart HVAC systems and renewable energy sources. This in turn can also lead to cost savings for both the local government and ratepayers, allowing for further investment in the community.

Another challenge faced by councils is the need for increased security and safety in public spaces. Smart buildings can help address this through advanced security systems, including access control, video surveillance and emergency notification systems.

Such systems can provide real-time alerts and situational awareness to first responders and key stakeholders, allowing faster response times and more effective emergency management.

How smart technologies can benefit local communities

As well as assisting councils in becoming more effective, smart technologies can deliver additional benefits to the communities they serve.

One example is the way in which technologies can provide improved data analytics and reporting. This allows government officials to make more informed decisions about resource allocation and community development. Smart buildings can also improve the delivery of public services, such as transportation, waste management and water conservation.

Smart technology in remote communities

Outside cities and towns, smart building technology can also have a positive impact for remote communities. These communities often face limited resources and complex governance structures.

Smart building technology can help address these challenges by improving energy efficiency, reducing costs and providing enhanced safety and security. For example, smart building systems can enable real-time monitoring and control of energy usage, HVAC systems and lighting, resulting in significant community cost savings. At the same time, advanced security and surveillance systems can help to improve safety and security in remote communities.

The community benefits of smart libraries

Councils can also deliver significant benefits to communities through the introduction of smart building technology into local libraries. Smart sensors can help library staff monitor occupancy and usage patterns, allowing for adequate space utilisation and resource allocation. Smart building technology can also help citizens find what they’re looking for faster, supporting mobile uses like translation services or contactless card scanning for a faster checkout. These tools can help libraries operate more efficiently while delivering better experiences for library patrons.

The network is at the heart of smart councils and communities

The key to smart building technology success is the network that connects the components. Smart buildings require a robust and reliable network infrastructure that is scalable and able to handle the increasing data needs of occupants. At the same time, the network needs to be secure and resistant to cybersecurity threats.

Traditional networks can be difficult to manage and scale, particularly for local governments that need to ensure network traffic for things like emergency services is both highly secure and separated from other uses like accessible guest Wi-Fi in community centres. Network fabric can help address these challenges, because it is easily scalable, highly flexible and enables IT teams to both segment the network and manage it from a centralised dashboard.

Further, new generations of Wi-Fi like Wi-Fi 6E and soon Wi-Fi 7 are making wireless networks more powerful, giving smart communities the infrastructure they need to support all these new technologies and ensure they can operate flawlessly, without latency or lag.

With the necessary network in place, councils can ensure that they can take full advantage of the capabilities of smart building technologies and deliver the best possible services and experiences for the communities they serve.

*Carmelo Calafiore is ANZ Regional Director for Extreme Networks and is responsible for leading the company’s regional growth strategies. He has over 25 years of experience in the IT industry having held senior positions with networking companies across the Asia Pacific region.

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