Thursday, 26 September 2013

Living in a Hyper-connected World – How Cities Need to get Smarter and More Digitally Enabled

Last week, I made this presentation at the South African Gartner Symposium ITXPO 2013.
The summary of the presentation stated "Cities are where the action is. That's where innovation is happening. A city is an interconnected system of systems. Infrastructure, people, processes and technology make a city. In modern cities, there's a lot of data about everything. Lots of sensors are already deployed everywhere - in buildings, roads, and utility grids; and lots of new information-based processes are in place. Everything is more information-rich, so you have to think about information as another significant resource you use to manage city life. Citizens are also more connected than ever before, they have access to a lot more information, and have powerful platforms of their own. Big data, mobile, social media, cloud, digital inclusion, open data, broadband, etc. are powerful forces that will impact on cities and organisations now and in the future - creating both opportunities and challenges. In addition to being relevant to government leaders, this presentation will be relevant to all CIOs and business leaders across industry regarding how today’s new technologies, global competition and business models will shift the focus from an internal efficiency view to a more outside-in view of the digital world and the role of their organisation within it."

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Affordable internet for South Africa's townships

It’s really good to see that the proof of concept phase of the Mitchell’s Plain & Khayelitsha wireless mesh project has finally arrived. It is happening at a very topical time, with lots of other WIFI projects being announced by municipalities across South Africa.

The City of Tshwane project to roll out free WIFI internet access across the city has been in the news a lot recently. Phase 1 of the project will concentrate on five locations by November 2013. These locations are TUT Soshanguve Campus, University of Pretoria - Hatfield Campus, Tshwane North College, Mamelodi Community Centre and Church Square in the Pretoria CBD. The project is being done in partnership with Project Isizwe which has emerged from the Stellenbosch Free Wi-Fi project earlier this year.

In May 2011, I worked with the Western Cape Government’s Economic Development Department to draw up a strategic framework for broadband in the province. One of the initiatives that we identified as a key intervention was a pilot project to deploy an alternative “open access” last mile infrastructure in high density, geographically suitable economic nodes. This project aims to:
  • Create a wireless (WiFi) mesh network as a last mile open access network providing access to all households in the selected communities. Pilots will be conducted in the metropolitan area (Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain) as well as in a smaller town outside of the metropolitan area (Greater Saldanha Bay).
  • Further utilise the wireless mesh network for government-related initiatives such as linking Public Safety and Disaster Management communications to this network e.g. CCTVs, Public Warning Systems, etc; the deploying of smart meters, intelligent transport sysems, environmental monitoring, etc.