Mark Goldberg

How smarter policy can create smarter cities

Over the holiday weekend, I had a chance to read a recent post from the Verizon Public Policy blog, calling for reforms in policies governing antenna siting and access to rights-of-way in order to accelerate deployment of 5G networks. Verizon says a “fundamental building block for the networks of tomorrow are small cells that will be deployed on light poles and other ‘street furniture’ throughout cities.” One of the biggest challenges facing service providers is getting approvals to deploy small cells on a reasonable and timely basis.

As we heard at The 2018 Canadian Telecom Summit [watch the 5G panel here], the deployment of 5G networks is a journey, with incremental deployment of more cell sites and more fibre connectivity.

About 6 years ago, I wrote about some of my experiences as a member of a community advisory body assisting my local municipality in the development of a new tower siting protocol. At the time, I was writing about health concerns, saying that we need more towers in order to reduce exposure to RF energy, since that would allow the devices we carry in our pockets to dial down their transmitting energy. “Tell your local municipal councillor that you want more towers – attractive ones, or camouflaged towers – to reduce your exposure to RF energy and improve your mobile service.”

We want towers within sight of our cell phones; just not within sight of our eyes.

For more than 10 years, I have suggested that a city could be “better off with a declaration that it will no longer fight carriers looking to invest and it will get out of the way of service providers that want to improve fibre access to their customers.” Smart cities require advanced communications infrastructure.

If a service provider is looking to deploy capital to upgrade facilities, how should a community respond? Is there an existing communications facilities protocol to be followed? Are there administrative or financial inhibitors that may discourage the decision to proceed or do processes encourage and welcome investment?

A few years ago, I wrote a post called “A little smarter every day“, saying “Building a smart city means creating a culture that works to make the community a little bit smarter every day.”

When setting policies, it really shouldn’t be that complicated:

  • Set clear objectives.
  • Align activities with the achievement of those objectives.
  • Stop doing things that are contrary to the objectives.

If we want to lead in the development of smarter cities, more connected communities and delivery of better services for our citizens, we need to create an environment that encourages service providers and all levels of government to work collaboratively to stimulate investment.

It is all part of making our communities a little smarter every day.

Comments are closed.