BAI Communications (BAI), a global shared communications infrastructure provider, today published a new report revealing organisations’ support for building smart communities is high but upgrading the network infrastructure necessary to enable them is a key challenge. The report titled: The building blocks of smarter, more connected communities: Smart communities report 2022 also reveals collaboration between public and private enterprises is essential to delivering ubiquitous connectivity and high-quality services necessary to create smart and intuitive communities. Being strongly in favour of smart communities, organisations are actively seeking to partner with public and private enterprises to help build them.

BAI defines a smart community as one that uses state-of-the-art technology and real-time data analytics to improve environmental sustainability, reduce the digital divide and enhance people’s lives with smarter, personalised and more intuitive services and experiences. The inaugural report highlights the findings from a global study of approximately 200 enterprise and venue IT experts and senior decision makers across the United Kingdom and United States. It provides an in-depth look at attitudes and understanding of smart communities for organisations across industries ranging from manufacturing and health care to education and entertainment.

Brendan O’Reilly, Group Chief Technology Officer, BAI Communications, said: “An advanced ecosystem of networks underpins many of the public services that keep our cities running efficiently to deliver the high-quality connectivity experiences we have grown accustomed to. From our research, it is clear that collaboration is critical to enabling smart community transformations. This requires a coordinated effort between government, public and private enterprises, shared infrastructure and neutral host providers to bridge the gaps and develop a robust foundation for connectivity.”

The report uncovered three clear trends: organisations want their communities to be smarter; the network infrastructure required to build smart communities is both a challenge and an enabler; and overwhelmingly organisations are ready to move forward to adopt the technologies required to build smart communities.

Organisations want communities to be smarter, but better industry collaboration is needed   

Smart communities can deliver real-world benefits that enhance the everyday experience of residents, businesses, and visitors within them. Those surveyed recognise their responsibility to contribute to infrastructure development through sharing knowledge and expertise, technology, financing, and investment. However, the research suggests finding the right partners is impacting the ability for organisations to participate in smart community initiatives, demonstrating the need for a more coordinated industry-wide approach toward smart community development.

  • 73% of respondents say making their cities or areas more attractive to businesses is one of the key ways connectivity improvements will bring value to their own organisations
  • 87% of respondents cite a lack of awareness of potential partner organisations as a barrier to participating in smart community initiatives

Advanced networks are critical to supporting greater connectivity, but organisations are holding back on upgrading infrastructure

Robust networks are the building blocks of smart communities, enabling smart sensors, devices, and analytics platforms to perform effectively. Those surveyed are most concerned about network resilience and business continuity to accommodate flexible work arrangements which have become a higher priority in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. They understand the need to improve and future-proof their infrastructure, however, are delaying important network upgrades often due to high implementation and operational costs. While this may offer short-term advantages, delaying these upgrades is creating future challenges associated with lagging technology availability when organisations eventually do upgrade their networks.

  • 93% of respondents believe faster speeds and lower latency enable faster and greater adoption of cloud infrastructure and applications
  • 72% of respondents plan to upgrade their network by at least two generations, including 16% who plan to leap four generations in their next upgrade

The right partners are key to enabling organisations to adopt new technologies that facilitate enhanced connectivity

While many organisations are putting off network upgrades, they understand the need to adopt technologies like distributed antenna systems (DAS) and small cells to enhance connectivity experiences for their customers. BAI’s research shows the neutral host model offers significant benefits to organisations, with virtually all respondents believing shared infrastructure is relevant to meeting their connectivity objectives of servicing multiple networks, enabling coverage in areas with limited space and increasing coverage at lower costs.

  • 74% of respondents cite better speed and latency as the primary driver for improving their networks
  • 55% of respondents believe DAS and small cells will help increase public connectivity across buildings, factories, and campuses

“It is promising to see in our research a strong appetite from organisations who are eager to participate and invest in a new era of smart communities that are empowered by digital technology. Shared infrastructure addresses many of the challenges that are currently preventing organisations from upgrading their networks and being able to deliver enhanced coverage and connectivity services in the most cost-effective way. By laying the foundations through advanced networks and shared infrastructure today, we can all help provide the connectivity needed to transform communities for many years to come,” concluded Mr O’Reilly.

For more information, contact:

Vivian Kobeh, Group Head of External Communications & PR, BAI Communications
P    +1 917 781 2726
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