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Planning for Australia’s smart cities of tomorrow starts today, and access to digital infrastructure will be critical in the transition to creating more sustainable, connected communities.

We spoke to Toby Harris, Indara’s Executive Director, Communications Infrastructure Solutions about how Indara is accelerating Australia’s digital future.

Bringing together towers and small cells

The merging of two telecommunication heavyweights (Australia Tower Network and Axicom) to form Indara signals a new era for digital infrastructure in Australia – one that is focused on offering an increasingly diverse set of solutions to customers.

“Indara is a leader in tower infrastructure right now, but we are also building for tomorrow. We are constantly scanning the horizon to add additional digital infrastructure solutions to our portfolio that will help drive a better digital future for communities across Australia,” Harris said.

As smart cities progressively become the bedrock of sustainable urban planning, the reliance on innovative digital infrastructure is increasingly important. Although tower infrastructure has always provided the overarching umbrella of connectivity within communities, the demand for faster, more reliable mobile connectivity is increasing the need for alternative infrastructure solutions.

“For example, 5G relies on high-band spectrum, which travel shorter distances than the lower frequencies that currently dominate mobile networks. Because 5G travel shorter distances, it relies on many small cells (low powered access points) for optimal performance, particularly in urban areas.”

“Indara’s ability to provide fast, unintrusive ways to install new technology enables us to broaden the existing solutions to our customers. For instance, ENE.HUB’s smart poles are designed to support small cell deployment while also providing other smart city services”

Leveraging smart infrastructure and data to improve lives and communities

Rich data and future-focused technology allow for smarter decision making, but what does this look like in our communities?

“On a basic level, technology is now available to sense the world around us, feed the data back and allow authorities to make smarter, more sustainable decisions,” Harris said.

“For local councils, the implementation of digital infrastructure, such as smart furniture, allows them to install sensors to monitor movement such as car traffic, foot traffic, scooter traffic, even push bike traffic in bike lanes, and usage of park pathways.

“Smart furniture can also collect environmental data, such as noise levels, pollution levels or rain fall, through sensors and make decisions accordingly. For example, if it’s raining, then there is no need for the sprinklers in the park to come on that morning.”

“The flow on effect is better decision-making regarding land use, the design of public open space and improved livability of our communities.”

Exploring the endless possibilities of the future

So, where to from here for Indara?

“For us, the natural extension of digital infrastructure to improve connectivity in indoor environments will be an interesting one to explore. There’s a clear trajectory to delivering these services in settings like hospitals, universities, and large-scale businesses.”

The growing awareness of these sensors to gather information also opens the door to endless possibilities to improve our lives. However, we need the underlying digital infrastructure in place to support the innovative technology and applications of tomorrow.

“Current networks are constrained by coverage and capacity and are unable to ingest and transport ever increasing volumes of data. We need to create more ingestion points and build the digital infrastructure to support continuous connectivity. From there, the ability to deploy sensors to understand what is going on in your environment will enable limitless options for improvement,” Harris said.

“Autonomous vehicles are a future consideration. When this technology becomes mainstream, it will be critical that we have the underlying digital infrastructure and reliable connectivity to support these vehicles on the road.”

“Smart farming is another example of the importance of having digital infrastructure in the right places to enable high-tech applications and better outcomes for rural and regional areas. For example, it has been shown you can use of sensors on vehicles to be able to make near instantaneous decisions on whether to spray water, weed killer or fertiliser depending on what it sees, resulting in both higher yields and less usage”

Continuing to partner with government, customers and industry to meet the needs of tomorrow is foundational to Indara’s plans for the future. It’s genuinely an exciting time to be working in the telecommunications infrastructure industry and playing a part in delivering services keep Australians connected.