Selling smart cities: Go for grand slams or base hits?
Moving from PoC to meaningful scale with smart cities investment
When imagining a smart city, many people immediately think of pervasively connected infrastructure streaming valuable data that allows city managers to dynamically control traffic flow, improve public safety outcomes, enhance accessibility to city services, and a raft of other applications. At the same time, many smart city projects struggle to move from the proof of concept stage to achieve meaningful scale.
So how do we square the two? Well, for now, we probably don’t. According to Ken Hosac, vice president of business development at Cradlepoint, the company has seen success in the smart cities space by focusing on, to use a baseball analogy, base hits.
“Where we’re getting traction is with base hits,” Hosac said. “Rather than coming in with this global dashboard for the whole city…we’re making elements of the city smarter.”
Cradlepoint, for instance, has seen good traction for its mobile LTE routers within police department and other law enforcement agencies. Hosac said law enforcement personnel can use the router to connect in-vehicle laptops, smartphones, tablets, body and dash cameras and even internet of things-type sensors–he gave the example of sensors that detect if a shotgun is removed from a rack or if a siren is activated. “It sends an alert out to the operations center and [remote staff] can come down and look in the cameras to see if something is going on. That police car of the future is here today.”
In Boise, Idaho, where Cradlepoint is headquartered, as well as in other cities, the company worked with the city’s IT department to kit out the police department’s fleet with routers to essentially help improve officer efficacy without investing in more headcount. With connected vehicles, officers don’t have to go into an office to file reports, upload video and other administrative tasks leaving more time to patrol beats and interface with the community.
“The officers, because they have reliable connectivity, they can use their police cars and stay out in the field,” Hosac said. “The officers can actually stay out in the neighborhood and work while they’re waiting for the next call. And then then the next call comes, they’re already in position.”
In most cities, he said, “The expectations for the city just continue to go up and up and up but their budgets don’t grow. They’re being asked to do more with less.” And that’s the goal of mobile connectivity in the smart cities context–improving productivity.