Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces for Smart Cities: Research Challenges and Opportunities

The concept of Smart Cities has been introduced as a way to benefit from the digitization of various ecosystems at a city level. To support this concept, future communication networks need to be carefully designed with respect to the city infrastructure and utilization of resources. Recently, the idea of 'smart' environment, which takes advantage of the infrastructure for better performance of wireless networks, has been proposed. This idea is aligned with the recent advances in design of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces (RISs), which are planar structures with the capability to reflect impinging electromagnetic waves toward preferred directions. Thus, RISs are expected to provide the necessary flexibility for the design of the 'smart' communication environment, which can be optimally shaped to enable cost- and energy-efficient signal transmissions where needed. Upon deployment of RISs, the ecosystem of the Smart Cities would become even more controllable and adaptable, which would subsequently ease the implementation of future communication networks in urban areas and boost the interconnection among private households and public services. In this paper, we describe our vision of the application of RISs in future Smart Cities. In particular, the research challenges and opportunities are addressed. The contribution paves the road to a systematic design of RIS-assisted communication networks for Smart Cities in the years to come.

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