• Technical Conference:  30 March – 03 April 2025
  • Exhibition: 01 – 03 April 2025
  • Moscone Center, San Francisco, California, USA

The Smart City Challenge at OFC

By Casimer DeCusatis

Loyal readers of my blog will recall that during last year’s OFC rump session, I reported that audience members felt the next step for OFC would involve discussing connected cities. That time has come faster than you might expect, with the introduction of the Connected OFCity Challenge on Monday at OFC 2016. This unique event is the sort of experience that you won’t find at other technical conferences, and promises to generate lots of interesting discussion. 

This workshop is set against the backdrop of the partially fictitious OFCity, where the municipal council is trying to improve broadband access infrastructure by the year 2020. OFCity isn’t alone in this effort; across the globe, many major cities have been making significant investments in developing so-called “smart cities” or “connected cities”.  These efforts rely heavily on technological innovations such as broadband networking for the public, and always-on networks that provide connectivity from anywhere. Urban planning for public spaces is essential to creating sustainable, vibrant communities and enclaves within the world’s largest cities. These communities may include public parks and recreation areas, artwork, museums, restaurants, business spaces, and much more. Each of these applications has different requirements for bandwidth (for example, the museum may require streaming media services while restaurant reservation systems require precise message timing). Security is pervasive across all of these areas; many people feel that the emerging IoT will create so many new network endpoints that we will be forced back to a 3 tier network architecture in public spaces. These public networks represent new revenue opportunities for conventional telecommunication providers, but also present many new challenges. Upgraded network infrastructure needs to be backward compatible with installed legacy systems, and should be deployed in an energy efficient and cost efficient way. 

In the OFC workshop, several multi-disciplinary teams including experts from both industry and academia will present their proposals for OFCity. In a town hall meeting format, the speakers will be questioned by the audience and asked to defend their proposals. You’ll have an opportunity to question the feasibility, impact, cost, and motivations behind programs that seek to redefine what it means to live in a large connected city. Would you want your taxes spent on innovative network architectures, video surveillance, or building out the Internet of Things? Can a better network help you find parking spots, manage water quality, improve power plant efficiency, or make your community a safer place to live?  What about the impact on local jobs and the opportunity cost of these innovations? The OFCity workshop provides you with direct access to these questions and more; at the end of the event, the winning proposals will be selected by popular vote, and a panel of expert judges will also weigh in with their opinions. You won’t want to miss this workshop to learn about the future of municipal optical infrastructure.

Wondering what happens when the city gets smarter than you?  Drop me a line @Dr_Casimer on Twitter and let’s talk about it.

Posted: 14 March 2016 by Casimer DeCusatis | with 0 comments

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition (OFC)  or its sponsors.