Smart Cities Connect: Dallas to share smart city data with developers
As the world headquarters for AT&T, Dallas was an obvious choice for the telecom giant when it selected eight locations to test its smart city technologies. The company partnered with the Dallas Innovation Alliance to launch a a multi-phased smart cities project which already includes GE connected LED street lights, environmental sensors deployed by Ericsson, and interactive digital kiosks made by Civiq that help people navigate the city. The smart city infastructure is connected to AT&T’s LTE network, and the company says the next phase of the project will be public Wi-Fi hotspots.
At this year’s Smart Cities Connect conference in Austin, Texas, AT&T and the Dallas Innovation Alliance answered questions about the data collected in the city’s historic West End, which is the site of the pilot. The data is owned by Dallas, which has plans to make it available to the public.
“Everything that can be open will be open to citizens and startups,” said Jennifer Sanders, executive director of the Dallas Innovation Alliance. Right now Dallas has no specific plans to monetize the data, and Sanders said most cities have not yet decided whether they should even try to do that. “A lot of cities are debaing that – do we look at this as a revenue opportunity?” she said.
Data about traffic patterns for cars and pedestrians, as well as information about what people search for on the connected kiosks, could be valuable to application developers. That’s why Dallas officials think startups are likely to access the data generated by its connected lights, sensors and kiosks.
Sanders said the data collected at this time is not personal data. She said beacons deployed in the smart lighiting infrastructure can count the number of smartphones that pass by.
“I literally know only how many devices walk by, I know nothing else,” Sanders said. But knowing where people congregate in a city and when they are likely to be there is valuable information for business owners and real estate professionals.
If cities do end up selling data to third parties, they could find it easier to fund smart city technology going forward. But even without a revenue model, smart city infrastructure is finding its way into many cities through LED lights.
Cities say it is no harder for their work crews to install a connected LED light than to install a “dumb” LED light, so a large number of cities are choosing to include connectivity from the start. In addition, many are selecting hardware that includes space for additional sensors that can be added at a later date as use cases develop. It’s a trend that’s likely to accelerate as more cities invest in connected LED lights, which have already been shown to cut city energy bills significantly. In addition, some cities are seeing crime rates drop in areas that have connected lights, which can alert the city right away when a light goes out. Sanders said crime rates have decreased in the West End during the three months since the new lights were installed.
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