Verizon has rebranded its "Smart Cities" Internet of Things vertical as "Smart Communities," enabling the company to leverage Smart Cities technology in a broader, more collaborative and flexible way. Key to this transition has been -- and continues to be -- Verizon's IoT platform strategy. Accordingly, ThingSpace, Verizon's kingpin IoT platform, looks to play a central role in Verizon's Smart Communities movement.
In 2016, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) ramped up its IoT initiatives with the help of its DevOps-friendly IoT platform, ThingSpace. (See Verizon's ThingSpace Opens Up APIs for IoT Developers and Verizon Reveals IoT PaaS Analytics Strategy.)
Verizon also re-branded its Smart Cities strategy to Smart Communities. The subtle change in branding reflects both Verizon's holistic approach to IoT technology in general as well as the company's efforts to work with and educate its customers as collaborative partners. (See IoT: What Do Customers Really Need? )
In Part 1 of this Q&A, Daniel Feldman, Verizon's Director of Product and New Business Innovation for IoT, spoke with Telco Transformation to share the philosophy and use cases driving the telco's "Smart Communities" transition. (See Verizon's Feldman: IoT Focus Shifts From Smart Cities to Smart Communities .)
Now, here in Part 2, Feldman talks about ThingSpace's critical role in Verizon's Smart Communities evolution.
Telco Transformation: To speak of Verizon's IoT platform ThingSpace, Verizon's been doing some notable IoT analytics expansion and hiring lately. In terms of Smart Communities and what Verizon is doing there, how are you seeing Smart Communities tie in to things like Verizon's announcement of the integration of its Big Data Analytics engine into ThingSpace?
Daniel Feldman: So we are very deeply integrated with that group. We have an entire location dedicated to data analytics that's out in Palo Alto, Calif., and across our solutions we work very closely with that group. So I would say that we're deeply integrated. There are a number of solutions that have not launched yet in the Smart Communalities space, so you'll see us flexing our analytics muscles more in the future. All the solutions take advantage of the data analytics capabilities.
Traffic management is one area where we have engaged that group for predictive analytics. If you look at traffic patterns and learn from them, you can set things like traffic signal timing based on real-world data, and then you can get to things like adaptive signals where they understand traffic patterns, and then, based on what's happening, you can use predictive analytics to set signaling correctly. You could go across solution by solution and talk about how that group has impacted us already. They used to be focused a lot more on wireline analytics, but more and more that group now is focused on these IoT-type technologies.
TT: Speaking of analytics, let's talk in terms of the technology stack; you have platforms, analytics, connectivity, apps, and you have APIs. In that technology stack, what would you say are the key elements really driving that community element of Smart Communities?
DF: I think that... (long pause)
TT: Or is that like asking you to choose a favorite child?
DF: No, no, no. I'm pausing because there are some things that I can't disclose here, but the ThingSpace platform will be a game changer for this industry. There are countries like Brazil that have leveraged an IoT platform to connect multiple technologies and help around the city that way, and we haven't seen a lot of those types of deployments in different cities in the US.
So in the near future, you will see quite a few cities that will launch with the ThingSpace platform, and they're connecting everything -- all of the different sensors and meters that they're deploying -- into a centralized platform where they can view the data. They can run the analytics on the data. Some of the technologies they will be able to control -- things like parking meters, traffic signals, digital signage and things like that -- they'll be able to control everything through the ThingSpace platform. So any of the technologies that you've seen deployed on Verizon? Those are all being migrated where the visualization, the reporting, the analytics, and the controls will all go through ThingSpace in the near future.
TT: What role do you see the ThingSpace Marketplace in the Smart Communities vertical?
DF: I think it's a combination. There is the open data movement. More cities are going toward releasing their data and making that available publicly to universities and others to come up with more advanced and unique solutions to solve their real world needs. So I think that ThingSpace in the developer community provides that easy access to developers -- where they can sign up in just a few minutes, and they can test real live data, open APIs, and things like that. I think that will spur broad innovation as more and more cities are opening up their data feeds and we have more access to more information in ThingSpace. Then it will allow them to test out new use cases in the different technologies. I think that's the big shift that we'll see.
— Joe Stanganelli, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation