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Critical Infrastructure and IoT: Maximizing Security, Scalability and Reliability

Takahiro Yamamoto, General Manager, Smart Communications System Department, IoT Platform Division, Solution Systems Business Group, OKI Electric Industry Co., Ltd.


The role that smart infrastructure management has to play in our future cannot be understated.

Infrastructure has always been complex and problematic for cities to manage. From costly maintenance activities to strained utilities’ connections and public transportation networks, city planners and management teams are constantly under pressure to keep cities ticking over without issue on a daily basis.

In Japan, we are lucky enough to have some of the best urban infrastructure in the world – yet this is not something that has happened overnight.

Indeed, it is a response born out of circumstance. We have been forced to grapple with natural disasters that have damaged our urban environments, while recent decades have also seen people increasingly moving between cities and more rural areas, leading to changing demands on resources.

Investment has been vital to sustain the general functioning of Japan’s key cities in the face of such challenges – something that will need to continue moving forward.

Thankfully, today, we are witnessing the advent of new technologies that can help us to manage critical infrastructure more effectively.

An Impending Wave of Smart City IoT

Globally, the Internet of Things (IoT) in smart cities market is expected to boom, rising from $130.6 billion in 2021 to $312.2 billion come 2026 at an annual growth rate of 19% for the forecast period.

No longer is IoT just associated with next-generation domestic devices. It is also being deployed on a much bigger scale, facilitating a new wave of capabilities in monitoring and managing critical infrastructure in cities.

From remote monitoring and deterioration diagnosis to predictive maintenance and performance analysis, IoT is already embedding itself as a foundational technology from which smart cities may blossom.

At OKI we are at the very heart of this transformation as it unfolds, supporting the Japanese Government in furthering a number of smart city initiatives.

As a snapshot, the Government is pursuing policies that aim to extend the life of aged civil infrastructure, and improve productivity within civil engineering and construction owing to skills shortages. In both instances, critical technologies are being adopted more readily, with IoT devices already deployed in everything, from bridges and tunnels to steel towers and artificial slopes, in order to improve maintenance and management practices.

OKI has played a key role in this, deploying sensors and other devices to improve city management in a variety of ways across Japan. Some examples include:

  • Monitoring of pier inclination: To affirm usability and safety in the event of a disaster, such as a major flood.
  • Cable tension monitoring of cable-stayed bridges: To monitor and assess cable condition, throughout the product lifetime, and as a result of stresses such as heavy traffic.
  • Slope and embankment monitoring: To monitor and assess potential deterioration resulting from heavy rain or earthquakes.
  • Monitoring of highway lighting columns: Used to identify loose or damaged fixings that may arise from vibrations, ageing or traffic accidents.

The Potential Role of Wi-SUN FAN

For these devices to work effectively, they need fast, reliable, robust and secure connections that will ensure their effectiveness on a 24/7 basis.

Guaranteeing this is easier said than done, yet it is vital.

So, what is the solution?

At OKI, we have seen huge opportunities for Wi-SUN Field Area Networks (FAN), which provide the basis from which secure and scalable outdoor networks are established.

Critically, Wi-SUN FAN advocates security-by-design. It takes an approach that ensures each and every device is uniquely identifiable with digital certificates, and properly authenticated when joining a network. This guarantees that no tampered devices are able to infiltrate the network.

The technology supports wireless communication among remote devices, ensuring that grid connections aren’t necessary and allowing for quick and scalable device deployment. The prioritization of interoperability with third party products allows it to be used for multiple applications, opening the door for additional smart city applications and devices to be rolled out in the future.

Indeed, such capabilities are crucial. They address some of the key concerns surrounding smart city infrastructures, and pave the way for the secure, reliable and scalable deployment of critical applications.


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