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The Role of Industrial Switches in Smart City Network Connectivity

The Role of Industrial Switches in Smart City Network Connectivity

Article by Henry Martel, Field Application Engineer, Antaira Technologies

BREA, CA — According to the World Bank, 56% of the world’s population, representing 4.4 billion inhabitants, currently live in cities. With the population set to double its current size by 2050, nearly 7 of 10 people are expected to reside in urban areas. Accommodating the citizens of these municipalities will require greater investment in Smart City technologies by local governments.

Smart Cities use Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) data-driven solutions to optimize public safety, increase sustainability, and deliver higher-quality services. In addition, they may incorporate revenue-generating strategies such as using digital platforms for ticketing, deploying fee-based services, and streamlining the paying of fines, utility bills, and taxes. Experience has shown that as cities grow smarter, they become more livable and responsive to human concerns — benefits that attract businesses and investment at a time when municipal budgets are being stretched to a breaking point.

Although the concept of Smart Cities is still in its early stages, it is rapidly gaining momentum alongside growth in IIoT technologies. Today, more than 1000 Smart City projects worldwide serve as test sites for population health initiatives, safer traffic management, and enhanced urban living. Smart City infrastructure investment is forecast to reach $150 billion this year and has led some to estimate a market potential of $3.5 trillion by 2026.

In this article, we explore the role of industrial Ethernet switches in providing stable, efficient data transmission capabilities and network management functions to Smart Cities applications. These applications include video surveillance, parking systems, intelligent transportation systems, traffic signals, WLAN access points for public Internet access, meteorological and environmental monitoring, and lighting control for energy efficiency, among others. By connecting various devices, basic services, and systems, industrial switches improve the management and operational efficiency of the city and the convenience of residents’ lives.

Smart City Infrastructure & Technologies

Digitally connected Smart Cities collect diverse sets of data from the urban environment. Software tools are then used to analyze the data to pinpoint city needs, develop strategies to efficiently manage city operations, assets, and resources, and to optimize operations and services. Reaching these ambitious objectives calls for highly efficient networking and communication infrastructures to support data transmission and provide management of the components used for individual services.

Basically, the Smart City infrastructure is made up of three layers. The first layer is a critical mass of cameras, sensors, meters, radar detection, drones, and other IoT devices that gather real-time data 24 hours a day. These smart devices and smart technologies are connected by high-speed communication networks to a central server, either wired, wirelessly (e.g., Wireless Sensor Networks), or a combination of both. Besides collecting data, the IoT devices and sensors monitor smart infrastructure and, in some cases, enable automation.

The second layer consists of data-analysis applications that refine this raw big data back into time-critical alerts, insight, and action. Cloud computing is often leveraged here for its powerful processing capabilities, large and scalable data storage, and advanced software services. Fog computing may be integrated with the Cloud since it allows some functionalities to move from the Cloud closer to IoT devices for more localized, lower latency processing.

The third layer is the actual utilization of information by city government, officials, municipal workers, companies, the private sector, and the public. Websites and apps help Smart Cities engage with residents to share traffic reports, energy usage, local news, and safety alerts, among other information, that make citizens feel more connected to their community.

Reliablity, Management and Scalability

Industrial switches are at the core of the three layers, bringing the reliability, management and scalability needed to make the Smart City concept a working reality.

Most Smart City applications have at least medium reliability requirements, while others have high-reliability requirements such as legacy systems or new technologies like smart grid or intelligent transportation. By ensuring maximum reliable connectivity, industrial switches facilitate real-time data transmission that drives smarter decision-making in urban planning and encourages behavior change. While redundancy is important in any network switch, it is mission-critical to the reliability of a switch supporting a highly integrated Smart City.

Besides transmitting data, industrial Ethernet switches also excel at remotely managing and monitoring the network, providing real-time diagnosis of network status and device health. Open standards and protocols promote interoperability among the devices, systems, and services to ensure seamless integration and data exchange.

Of course, scalability is also important for Smart City networks. Advanced industrial switches accommodate new devices without appreciable loss in the quality of the provided services and associated traffic flows. Multi-port industrial Ethernet switches with both copper and SFP ports easily scale up to meet growing demands plus have Quality of Service (QoS) prioritizing higher volumes of traffic.

Antaira Smart City Solutions

Antaira offers one of the industry’s broadest selections of industrial switches for Smart City deployments. Managed or unmanaged, with speeds up to 10G and advanced features for copper and fiber installations, Antaira’s industrial switches get the job done to empower citizens and help city leaders and technology providers create more livable, responsive communities.

Antaira industrial Ethernet switches are rugged for deployment in harsh, outdoor environments to assist Smart City applications. Antaira’s environmentally hardened switches offer robust protection against wide temperature fluctuations, dust, water, vibration, and EMI, helping to minimize switch maintenance and data loss. In solutions that demand hardened equipment that can withstand extreme shock and vibration, such as transportation, Antaira M12 gigabit Ethernet switches are available in IP67-rated metal case designs. Because fiber optic cables are often laid in long-distance runs between the switch and the control center, Antaira industrial switches feature SFP ports for fiber connections to give smart technology system integrators flexibility around their requirements.

Many Antaira switches today feature the convenience of Power over Ethernet (PoE, PoE+, PoE++). PoE is critical because the locations where Smart City devices are often mounted — high on street poles or inside remote cabinets — don’t have ready access to power. Recognizing the importance of PoE, Antaira has been at the forefront of developing several patented PoE technologies built into Antaira industrial switches and media converters. For instance, Antaira’s patented Safe PoE Disconnect feature ensures the protection of a high-power PoE++ network when operating high-power sourcing devices. In addition, Antaria’s patented Persistent PoE technology allows an Antaira switch to reboot while still delivering PoE power to a connected PoE Powered Device. 

A Smart City installation may take hundreds or even thousands of switches, making configuration and device management a major challenge. To meet this challenge, Antaira offers its NMS web-based network management suite that allows administrators to monitor and manage connected devices on a local network remotely. Administrators can also monitor network performance remotely such as data, bandwidth, and traffic control.


How communities are planned, constructed, and organized for the future is being transformed by Smart City networking. A robust network infrastructure is essential for the collection, processing, and sharing of data from different sources to enable informed decision-making and improve the quality of life for residents. Ensuring that different systems, devices, and services can seamlessly communicate and interact with each other is the role of industrial Ethernet switches.