Johannesburg shows Africa is getting smarter about connectivity


The City of Johannesburg is nearing the point of extensive enhanced broadband connectivity and is closer to acquiring the status of ‘Smart City’, a first in Africa claim organisers. The large-scale project is in the final stages of the construction phase.

Willie Olivier, Chief Technical Officer at BWired. (Image: BWired)

BWired, The City of Johannesburg and Ericsson South Africa have collaborated to form the Johannesburg Broadband Network Project (JBNP), a 1.2 Terabyte capacity foundation and the backbone established to support the realisation of the ‘Smart City’ concept.

A Smart City is one in which several key components, namely e-Health, e-Learning, e-Governance, residential and enterprise, are combined and inter-connected for the benefit of residents within the city perimeter.

According to this criteria numerous important facets of society are connected and residents can take advantage of anything from online medical consultation to distance learning, and will notice visible differences to general governance including public security and surveillance and power management systems.

“When these concepts all come together, they form a Smart City. This concept is more about connectivity of everybody within the City of Johannesburg. One of the first Smart Cities and one of the most well-known is that of “Stockab” in Stockholm where the average citizen has fibre to the home (FTTH) of 40Mb/s, a realisation that is still a number of years away for Johannesburg, but something that the JBNP will be instrumental in building towards,” says Willie Olivier, Chief Technical Officer at BWired.

“In turn, this Smart Citywill assist the City ofJohannesburg to increase its economic growth and deliver faster and more efficient services,” he adds.

Olivier says they are using fibre as a delivery and communication medium as well as Internet Protocol (IP) for service delivery.

Despite the challenges of a shortage of skilled personnel in fibre-optic infrastructure and the on-going need to liaise with local communities to source labour in each ward, BWired says the project is on track and the expectation is a rollout of the entire project by May 2013.

A grid with details of wards and areas that will form part of the connected Smart City. (Image: BWired)

Johannesburg is considered a pilot project and Olivier says that based on the success of implementation, there are plans to present the opportunity to other municipalities.

Chris Tredger

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