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Software-defined optical switches to drive Bristol's Smart City network

05 Mar 2015

Polatis providing photonic foundation for an "open programmable smart city".

Polatis, a developer of all-optical matrix switches, is providing optical switching for the Bristol is Open initiative, an open, scalable and programmable smart city digital infrastructure designed to link people and machines with new services, technologies and applications.

The city-wide optical network (which will also connect the office of optics.org) is designed to enable “greater interaction between people and places, with more machine-to-machine communications through the Internet of Things, which ultimately gives citizens the ability to engage more fully with their environment”, the developer’s announcement states.

“Combining sensors and endpoint devices with agile fixed and wireless networks and high performance computing resources, the smart city will be able to respond intelligently in real time to everyday events including traffic congestion, waste management, energy supply and more.

Distributed sensors will supply the network with information about many aspects of city life including energy, air quality and traffic flows; the city's supercomputing and cloud resources will host and analyze the real-time information flows, providing open, accessible data for the development of a wide range of applications and services to enhance the urban environment.

Paul Wilson, Managing Director of Bristol Is Open, commented: "We are building the world's first open programmable city, a ground-breaking project aimed at providing a platform for the development of applications that will promote innovation and a better quality of life. Several factors informed our decision to be work with Polatis – notably its ability to support an open Software Defined Network environment.”


A key enabler of the Bristol is Open initiative is an ultra-fast, flexible and intelligent network. Polatis said its DirectLight all-optical switches enable dark fiber switching because they do not require light to make a connection that is transparent to color, protocol and speed.

The 192x192 fiber cross-connect switches (pictured above) are being deployed at nodes along the “Brunel Mile” in Bristol, enabling on-demand connectivity between high-performance wireless hubs and compute, creative and sensor systems.

"Bristol is once again pioneering advanced engineering innovations with the Bristol is Open initiative, which will serve as a model for smart city infrastructures around the world," said Nick Parsons, Chief Technology Officer at Polatis. "We are excited to be selected for this key initiative."

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.

AlluxaUniverse Kogaku America Inc.TRIOPTICS GmbHCeNing Optics Co LtdECOPTIKBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationOptikos Corporation
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