AT&T Emerges as a Smart City Leader

Cassie Tolhurst

More people live in cities than anywhere else, and around two out of every three people are expected to live in an urban area by 2050. With more and more people moving to cities, smart city initiatives are becoming a necessity, rather than a luxury. This new idea of what makes a city great is the dawning of the smart city age — an age in which cities and industry innovators partner to make life better.

What Makes a City Smart?

To meet the growing demand of urbanization, smart cities harness the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve the quality of life, save money, and increase efficiency. Similar to the concept of smart homes, smart cities use technology to connect city departments, agencies, and citizens. These technological connections help provide a safer, more productive place to live, work, and play.

Smart cities trade the traditional model of governance for a more collaborative system that provides immediate interaction between municipal departments, healthcare organizations, educational entities, and private citizens. Market research firm Frost & Sullivan identified eight “smart” indicators that define a smart city:

  • Smart Governance and Education
  • Smart Energy
  • Smart Healthcare
  • Smart Infrastructure
  • Smart Mobility
  • Smart Building
  • Smart Technology
  • Smart Citizens

Cities that possess at least five of the eight indicators are considered smart.

Smart Cities Share Common Goals Across the Globe

Frost & Sullivan predicts that by 2025 there will be approximately 26 global smart cities, and 50 percent of those will be in North America and Europe. To that end, the U.S. and Europe have encouraged smart city initiatives and explored the benefits of standardizing smart city platforms.

Smart cities put long-term goals above short-term solutions and invest in technology that makes city operations increasingly intuitive and adaptive. To improve quality of life, smart cities partner with companies like IBM and AT&T to modify their infrastructure so they can better collect, analyze, and use data to make life better.

Overall goals include saving money, decreasing response times, and improving communication. Specifically, waste management, energy efficiency and sustainability, traffic management, and public safety are usually among the first areas to adopt smart solutions.

Smart City Initiatives and Partnerships in the U.S.

Some American cities are leading the way to a smarter future. Among the most notable smart cities are Columbus, Ohio, which won the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, and Atlanta, Georgia, which has partnered with AT&T to integrate the company’s Smart City Solutions to improve sustainability and increase public safety. When it comes to smart cities, joining forces with innovative technology companies is one of the best moves a city can make.

Other cities moving in the smart direction include Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York City, Pittsburgh, and Portland. These cities are part of the Envision America initiative, which was announced by the White House last fall. These cities will collaborate with technology companies and other businesses to improve city services and address climate change.

Smart City Technology Leaders

AT&T is emerging as a leader when it comes to helping cities across the U.S. transform into smart cities. Through alliances with other technological organizations like GE, Cisco, and Intel, AT&T is using the IoT to build a framework that will help cities better meet the needs of its citizens. The initial rollout of AT&T’s Smart City Solutions will take place in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“We’ve built strong relationships with cities across the U.S. for over 100 years,” Mike Zeto of AT&T’s Smart Cities IoT Solutions, said. “We’re continuing to be a leader in smart cities innovation. Our holistic strategy can help cities save money, conserve energy, improve quality of life, and further engage with their citizens.”

In addition to existing utility meter and street light solutions, AT&T is adding a number of new innovations to its smart city IoT framework. These include solutions for infrastructure, transportation, public safety, and citizen engagement. Through mobile apps, sensors, digital signage, and even gunfire detection technology, AT&T will help cities remotely monitor road conditions, identify weather-related hazards, alert commuters to malfunctioning traffic signals, and pinpoint the details in the event of a shooting.

As innovators like AT&T, IBM, and GE continue to improve and expand the smart city solutions they offer, more cities will be able to benefit from the responsive and eco-conscious services available to make life easier for citizens every day.