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Inside AT&T’s smart cities strategy

Officials focused on smart cities use cases as market, awareness matures

Since launching its Spotlight Cities program in 2016, AT&T has moved from sponsoring pilot-type projects to working with municipal leaders on more large scale, paid engagements, according to Mike Zeto, general manager, AT&T Smart Cities, during an interview with Enterprise IoT Insights during Mobile World Congress 2018.

“These aren’t free pilots anymore,” Zeto said. “When you think about where we started with the spotlight city program…that was really to start to seed the market, help the cities understand what type of value could be driven through the technology. We started to move to paid engagements after that first year based on the customer references and the key learnings.”

One of those customer references, Zeto said, has landed AT&T in Portland, a city known for its many bridges, 12 of which cross the Willamette River. The condition and maintenance of infrastructure is a consummate issue at all levels of government and the subject of a proposed multi-billion dollar investment plan developed by the Trump Administration. To get a handle on the state of its bridges, Portland leaders are working with AT&T to collect data using the carrier’s Digital Infrastructure and Structure Monitoring solutions.

Zeto said sensors would monitor tilt, vibration, cracks and other structural metrics, which will be analyzed by an IBM platform. This offering is available as a service or to buy, which is Portland’s preference. As to the national conversation around infrastructure, Zeto said the addressable market is vast and AT&T has begun discussion at the state Department of Transportation level.

Government decision-makers are “more informed about the use cases, not necessarily the technologies. You want them to be focused on the use cases–what problem are they trying to solve? They’re there now for sure. Larger cities, for the most part, have hired somebody to be responsible for it.”

Zeto said public/private partnerships models are the best way to achieve broad adoption for smart cities solutions. He said that approach “is going to help cities scale and help us get ready for 5G. We’re going to go into markets really big with that, and that’ll pull through a lot of technologies that’ll add value to the cities. We’ll see cities scale in specific use cases,” including sensors, lighting, cameras and public safety applications.


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