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iODN: A key enabler for smart city


Integrating the optical network and Internet of Things technologies, the intelligent optical distribution network (iODN) provides the basis of building a smart city. Delivering smart management to the passive fiber infrastructure, iODN can also be applied to municipal facilities like the power grid, drainage system, and transportation system.

Smart city and its challenges

A future-oriented kind of city, the smart city highlights the importance of the telecom network and the Internet of Things. The smart city covers various aspects, including road monitoring, smart hospital, city management, security, family nursing, as well as personal health and digital life. All these require a higher service level assurance (SLA) to ensure smooth operations.

The optical network infrastructure and other parts, like the power grids, buildings, and bridges are all passive elements or “dumb resources.” Manual operation is needed to check these assets and this incurs low efficiency and possible errors. For example, some operators in Japan spend about 10% revenue to maintain their optical networks; and some operators see 30% of their optical resources in an idle state due to improper management. This cannot meet the development of smart cities.

To balance the development of urban and suburban areas and better cater to people’s needs, a smart city should enable smart management by first collecting massive infrastructure information. As interconnection and coordination can be applied to share the information, the infrastructure can be utilized in a more flexible and efficient way. The smart city can also help to ease the conflict between the surging population and inadequate public resources, ensuring a safer, more efficient and convenient and greener city environment.

In a smart city, the telecom network should provide high bandwidth, wide coverage, massive data, mobility, and collaboration. This will result in an explosive growth of broadband network in the coming years. China Telecom, for example, planned to expand the FTTH network with 100Mbps access to pass 30 million homes in 2011, raising up the total capacity to cover 40 million homes. Statistics also show that 800 million FTTH lines will be deployed globally in the next three years. In this context, high investment will inevitably be needed due to the increased maintenance and manpower costs.

“Dumb resources” is one of the challenges facing the smart city. As the basis, the telecom broadband network needs to be highly efficient, automatic and intelligent so as to enhance the efficiency and ensure the smooth operations of network infrastructure.

iODN eliminates “dumb resources”

Through an identification (ID) technology to identify relevant resources, iODN can intelligently identify, position, trace, monitor, and manage the optical network resources in the following ways.

First, intelligent optical network elements are applied as the hardware basis for intelligent management. ID sensors are added to optical fibers, manholes and hand holes to eliminate the “dumb resources.” Moreover, automatic cable distribution technology has been applied to realize remote control of optical fibers. All these serve as the foundation or platform to manage the optical lines, optical resources, and equipment information. Operators can also use iODN to detect and monitor fiber connections, navigate and schedule operations on optical fibers.

Second, iODN sets up a data collection and monitoring system to make network resources visible. The system serves as a data transmission channel between optical network and the network management system (NMS). It transmits information like equipment attributes, connection details, as well as remote maintenance and engineering data. In addition, the system stores data related to GIS and engineering.

By analyzing engineering data, the system can guide the engineer for easy and correct operations. By comparing the collected data with the legacy one, the system can detect the change and report any possible fault to the NMS. All data is recorded and reported automatically.

Finally, iODN makes network resources manageable and controllable through the NMS. Operators can monitor the network routing topology, utilization of network resources, and line quality. They can also perform active O&M based on how the optical routes are assigned, scheduled and implemented, realizing remote monitoring and maintenance of data related to the devices and lines.

With these features, iODN enables the legacy passive optical network to become a “smart network”. Operators can not only learn of the utilization and geographical location of various types of network resources in real time, but also can allocate and connect resources automatically. In addition, iODN can sense the “health status” of network resources by means of self-inspection and implement self-recovery using backup routes.

By deploying a “smart network”, operators can enhance their optical network utilization and maintenance efficiency. With lowered optical network investment, operators can build a smart network that meets the diversified requirements of families, enterprises, and governments.

Smart city, starting from iODN

Jin Dongbin, Deputy Chief Engineer of China Telecom, remarked that, as a means to manage the Internet of Things resources, iODN can not only be applied in the telecom field, but also be used for the management of pipelines, infrastructure, and other resources of smart cities, and all these can be centrally managed through cloud computing technology. In addition, specific cloud terminals can be developed for the smart city.

Smart drainage system

Since 2011, many cities in China had been affected by heavy rainfall, which made drainage systems a key area of concern for residents. iODN can be deployed to build a smart drainage system to solve the challenge.

The smart drainage system identifies the water supply and drainage pipelines and facilities. In this context, the drainage condition can be monitored around the clock, while systematic analysis of the overflowing and water-logging process can be applied. Monitoring personnel can then remodel the drainage pipelines and avoid possible flooding.

In addition, through real-time monitoring, the system can identify the domestic and industrial wastewater, and discharge them at different times and phases to avoid secondary pollution. With the effective control, problems like aging pipeline, pipeline rupture, and water spills can be detected and solved in a timely manner, realizing in-service detection and repair of water pipelines.

Smart grid

iODN can identity key power supply devices and realize online monitoring of power generation, transmission, distribution, supply, and utilization. Obtaining the running status, iODN can deliver alarms in advance, identify the faulty device in time, facilitate troubleshooting, and ensure the best performance.

The advanced technology can also be integrated into the legacy systems of a power enterprise, optimizing the operation and troubleshooting process, while strengthening the management capability. Power grid designers can also have better tools and information to sharpen their innovation skills. In this context, better management can be applied on the power grid construction and maintenance.

Smart home

Using the iODN technology to identify home facilities can help realize safe, comfortable, and intelligent management of home appliances. For example, by integrating all home appliances into a smart network, users can query information of the home appliances or the information can be displayed automatically. Users can also schedule the operation of different home appliances and pick their favorite model. With the management software installed in their mobile phones, they can perform remote management and receive status alarms.


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