The smart city concept is extraordinarily broad, and no one company -- not even one as big and powerful as AT&T -- can do it alone.
In Part II of a conversation with Telco Transformation, which has been lightly edited for clarity and length, Michael Zeto, general manager of AT&T's Smarter Cities business unit, discusses the potential of the carrier’s involvement with GE and the nascent First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) networks. (See AT&T's $119M Plan to Modernize Centers for Disease Control.)
The bottom line is that the same core technology can be levered in many different ways by businesses and municipalities.
In Part 1, Zeto spoke about the evolution of the Internet of Things and smart cities. (See AT&T's Zeto: IoT Evolution Runs on Parallel Paths.)
Telco Transformation: Is the IoT technology being developed by your business unit viable for businesses as well cities?
Michael Zeto: The smart city solutions that we've developed can not only be used by cities and municipalities or (military) bases and campuses but also by our enterprise clients as well.
Think about Disney as a customer and think about the city of Atlanta as a customer. The city of Atlanta could have our AT&T digital infrastructure LED street light solution deployed. And Disney, being a large theme park with parking lots with open areas and streets through the theme park, could deploy it as well.
You could go to Wal-Mart and achieve the same benefit, whether it be efficiencies, cost reduction, safety or sustainability. And they could deploy it on their campus or deploy a variation in buildings. There are LED solutions for that. That's where the form factors change a little bit. But, again, these are the same problems they're trying to solve for efficiencies around electric usage and cost reduction.
TT: Please tell me about AT&T's contract with GE Predix.
MZ: At the end of February, we announced at Mobile World Congress that AT&T and GE were coming together to form what we think is a historical partnership. AT&T is the exclusive reseller in the US and Mexico of GE's digital infrastructure solution. It's now called AT&T Smart Cities Digital Infrastructure.
GE will manufacture and do the R&D. AT&T will develop the strategies, the strategic services and deployments for an offering called AT&T Digital Infrastructure that has cameras that can be used for parking lots, traffic and public safety. Then are environmental sensors that can be used to monitor air quality, pollutants and hazardous gases. It also has audio sensors that can monitor decimal levels or gunshots. A set of applications that sits on top of that will be pulled through the Predix operating system.
Those applications and that device, in essence, become an iPhone for municipalities, if you will. If you think of it that way, you have your iPhone or your smartphone with cameras and sensors and a set of apps that works with it that allows you to maximize the data that is being gathered from that device. This works the same way.
TT: AT&T also recently won a contract with FirstNet. Please describe it.
MZ: AT&T and FirstNet have committed significant resources to build out the network that will improve communications around first responders. It supports police, fire, EMS. FirstNet will provide spectrum and $6.5 billion dollars over a five year period to support the network build out. AT&T is going to spend roughly $40 billion over the life of the contract to build, deploy, operate and maintain the network. The goal is to make sure that there's robust coverage for public safety personnel and they've got priority on that network.
It's a large deal. Even more importantly, it's a much needed investment in America's communication and public safety infrastructure. The applications that you can then leverage that network for [are extensive]. It can support anything from body cameras that will now have prioritization on a network to the digital infrastructure that has access to cameras and environmental sensors.
It has camera feeds and sensors for detecting hazardous gases in the air, gunshots or high decibel level noises that could be associated with a bomb. It also supports communications amongst ambulances and GPS systems so that they're not interrupted. It even supports drones for first responders.
TT: What does the smart city/IoT dynamic look like going forward?
MZ: I think 2017, 2018 and 2019 are the years where we really accelerate scale and adoption of IoT technologies that help create a smart city and add a lot of value for not only the city but businesses and citizens.
— Carl Weinschenk, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation