Blog / Municipal Virtualization and the Future of Smart Cities
Municipal government budgets are almost always tight. Rarely do we hear about cities that are flush with cash, and for good reason. After all, most citizens would prefer their tax dollars actually be put to work and provide some value. However, most municipalities are expected to deliver a broad variety of services with those limited resources, which makes controlling costs all the more important. That’s where municipal virtualization comes in. We’ve spent a fair bit of time in this newsletter extolling the virtues of virtualization lately, so go ahead and take a read if you don’t know how the process can dramatically reduce any organization’s IT costs.
However, like healthcare clinics or industrial players, virtualizing municipalities comes with its own set of unique benefits and requirements. This is because, unlike clinics or chemical plants focusing on specific services and products like dental care or refined petroleum, municipalities need to provide a broad scope of services to their citizens. From traffic management and public transportation to waste management to recreational facilities and citizen engagement, municipalities need a variety of solutions most of which, from a technical standpoint, are configured and optimized in different ways. The result is a cobweb of interlocking networks, each one typically enabled by different proprietary products and software that doesn’t always play well together (not to mention being costly to maintain).
Now that virtualization technologies like software defined networks (SDNs) and network function virtualization (NFV) have become commonplace, vendor lock-in of this sort is no longer necessary. Municipal virtualization means local governments can create dynamic, interoperable, and programmable networks that can better meet citizens needs in a more cost-effective manner.
You see, SDNs can be used to create different segments of a network to optimize resource deployment for different services. The result is a single physical network that can be used to provide a broad variety of services. For example, in the event of a disaster or other emergency situation, resource controllers can temporarily divert bandwidth from traffic analysis to support emergency services. NFV technology, on the other hand, allows software to program network functions, rather than relying on physical hardware. Network functions can be placed to support a variety of requirements (including addressing latency), allowing for real-time information processing which in turn enables immediate action.
To put the difference between the two simply, SDNs redirect resources, while NFV allows resource scaling. This an extreme simplification, but hopefully an understandable one.
As the future marches ever onward and the adoption of mobile computing and IoT (Internet of Things) devices continues, municipalities should be rethinking how their leaders, employees, bureaucrats, and most importantly, their citizens, engage with public services. Indeed, it’s almost inevitable that in the future every city will become a smart city, which will require robust, reliable, and agile networks to support AI traffic management, parking, energy usage, or a wide variety of other crucial services. Virtualization is the key to unlocking many of the benefits smart cities offer.
If you have any questions about municipal virtualization, SDNs, NFVs, or any of the technologies involved, contact a TRINUS IT expert today. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have and help create a plan of action for virtualizing your city or county.
The TRINUS Team