Smart Cities and WiFi: A step in the right direction for our #travelgoals and woes?

Rebecca Moy November 14th, 2018

Digital technology has given us the tools to confidently explore the world around us with more ease and courage than ever before. We can communicate, search, navigate, pay, and play with the click of the button, as long as we’ve got an internet connection. So it’s no wonder that this digital arsenal makes it easier to be more curious about the world around us, and for better or for worse, has ushered in wave upon wave of growth in the travel and tourism industries. According to the United Nations World Travel Organization (UNWTO), international tourism continued to flourish in 2018, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down.

But while travel is powerful for broadening our perspectives (or at least providing braggy Instagram posts), we can’t underestimate impact it has on local communities – such as increased congestion of both the environmental type, as well as the “sidewalk” type (e.g. slow-walking, photo-snapping tourists). So how can popular tourist destinations, especially urban areas, make the most of (or grapple with!) all of this movement? What is the key to making travel easy yet sustainable for everybody involved?

Make way for the Smart City, where the use of technology is meant to improve public infrastructure and services in order to optimize city operations, drive the local economy, and increase the engagement of citizens. Specifically in terms of tourism, UNWTO recently called for smart cities to be a mesh between tourism governance and digital economy for “diverse and authentic experiences” while at the same time helping to “respond to the new demands of hyper-connected and hyper-informed tourists”. So where do we start when it comes to creating Smart Cities, or rather Smart Tourist Destinations? With WiFi.

WiFi is fundamental to Smart Cities, given the ease, speed, availability, and cost-efficiency with which it can be deployed and operated. That is, as long as the WiFi meets certain requirements: multiple deployment locations must be managed from a single platform, it must be flexible enough to adapt to any type of business model (with a customizable experience for end users), it must be hardware-agnostic, and most importantly, carrier-grade.

Luckily, all of Fontech’s WiFi solutions and products meet these requirements, which means that all there’s left to do is imagine the possibilities. Fontech’s solutions allow Service Providers (SPs) and municipalities to easily deploy public WiFi networks in a matter of days, either based on a Community deployment (in which operators can re-use their existing residential CPE infrastructure), or through premium APs at specific locations.

Once in place, WiFi can provide the necessary connectivity for broad-level applications such as WiFi access for citizens, or visitors, as well as everything from better traffic control and transportation (through WiFi enabled cameras, sensors, and mobility apps) to environmental protection (monitoring and alerting to important changes in air/water quality, etc.), and even public safety (download video from police cars, cameras).

No matter the applications, SPs and municipalities must be able to segment WiFi networks in order to offer a differentiated WiFi experience and business model for each application. For example, municipalities can offer free WiFi for citizens, and paid for visitors, or offer it for free in both cases but make it seamless for citizens through a connectivity app, while visitors would have to log in through a captive portal that can promote popular tourist activities throughout the city.

But it’s not only public administrations or large SPs that can leverage the benefits of WIFi connectivity regarding tourism. Since our solutions and products provide complete flexibility no matter the business model, there are opportunities that can be reached by all verticals relevant to tourists, allowing WiFi services to be offered to guests of all types (hotels, retail and large venues, and small businesses, for example). These applications undoubtedly benefit end users, be they tourists or locals, while also clearly benefiting local businesses.

Connectivity through WiFi is cornerstone upon which Smart Cities should be built, especially in the age of abounding travel and tourism. If you’d like to know more about the way Fontech can help make this happen, we’d love for you to browse our solutions for both carriers and enterprises of all types.