Laboratory infrastructure and research projects support

Laboratory infrastructure and research projects support

In the urban renewal process towards the smart city model, the network infrastructure plays the fundamental role of an actuator and aggregator element. One of the strategic objectives of this infrastructure must be the ability to transport, in a transparent manner, both specific and exclusive services of the Administration (infrastructures information, raw data air quality, weather, monitoring of the transport network, energy checks, public security, video surveillance, etc), both services aimed at citizens and the community in general (aggregated data for information to citizens and tourism, traffic information, multimedia content, special services connected to events, etc).

In continuing this process effectively and taking a look at the future, Smart Cities must therefore adopt an architectural model capable of ensuring a constant technological development of the network itself and related services. This objective must be achieved through an advanced convergent infrastructure that prevents obsolete and inefficient proliferation of proprietary infrastructures mapped on individual services. Furthermore, the increasing diffusion of sensors requires infrastructures that allow ubiquitous and high density connections.

The emerging technological solution of the transport network that is emerging and that best meets the needs of operation and provision of services of a Smart City is, without a doubt, the one based on LTE (Long Term Evolution), an emerging standard for wireless communication broadband supported by a wide range of objects, including terminals connected to sensors of various types and modern smartphones. Used in trunking mode, the proposed system will be able to carry the disparate types of data with an appropriate bandwidth capacity using different transmission media, including wireless and fiber optic of which Cagliari is notably equipped (fiber optic city MAN and WIFI network covering some neighborhoods).

The architecture of the LTE transport network must necessarily be open, that is, it must present open communication interfaces for integration with other communication infrastructures in operation owned by the Administration, in order to allow the maximum possible reuse. Lastly, the LTE transport network must guarantee the maximum possible adherence to the international reference standards for networks of this type, in order to avoid technological lock-in problems linked to a particular supplier. In addition to the network, it will be necessary to provide a reliable and scalable IT infrastructure, able to acquire data, store it, validate it and return it to citizens in the various forms studied in the project.

Many cities, including Cagliari, have operated or are making investments to install or expand a wide network of specialized sensors, for example for monitoring environmental or traffic parameters. Many of these choices refer, however, to proprietary technologies or the use of a few specialized collection points.

Taking advantage of the possibilities offered by technological evolution, which on one hand allows the widespread Internet connection without the need for capillary wiring and on the other sees the emergence of low-cost sensors, the goal of the project is to explore the most current technologies' data collection. For the purposes of this project these should be as open and accessible as possible, and may therefore include specialized devices, managed by the municipal administration but possibly based on open-hardware and open-software technologies, to allow their replicability and community development; but also unconventional and low-cost devices, always based on open technologies, up to the smartphones, widely diffused among the citizens. In any case, the easy scalability and replicability of the proposed prototype solutions must be guaranteed.

The specific activities envisaged will be focused above all on the experimentation and study of an infrastructure capable of acquiring data in two scenarios which, it is expected, will be among the most relevant for future developments:

  • the first part from sensors based on low-cost hardware platforms (for example, of the Raspberry Pi class) and explores how to package and convey data from the periphery to the aggregation level through a hybrid Wifi/LTE/fiber network depending on the geographical location of the sensors and the availability of an adequate communication infrastructure;
  • the second considers the use in crowd-sourcing mode of sensors on board smart-phones both as a stand-alone device and as a personal device.

The creation of a sensor system, the acquisition of data and their processing require an infrastructure and the applications able to manage them. Within the JIC will be acquired high performance computing clusters and for the treatment of BigData, data storage systems, systems for network and security management, video surveillance systems, systems for presentation and data management, radio links for the connection of the Polaris headquarters and the city of Cagliari, the infrastructure of the LTE network, the sensors useful for the realization of the project and the interconnection gateways of the IoT systems.