Smart Cities are so 2015. What's hot today in the government Internet of Things sector? Smart Communities.
At least, that's the way Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) sees it. Having renamed its "Smart Cities" business as "Smart Communities," Verizon has leveraged its experience and conversations with its partners in the public sector to re-imagine the Smart Cities IoT vertical. (See IoT: What Do Customers Really Need? )
To get more of the scoop on Verizon's rebranded Smart Communities efforts, Telco Transformation reached out to Daniel Feldman, director of product and new business innovation on Verizon's IoT team. In Part 1 of this Q&A with Telco Transformation, which was lightly edited for length and clarity, Feldman details Verizon's Smart Communities philosophy. He also defines just what a "Smart Community" is. In Part 2, Feldman will discuss the role of ThingSpace, Verizon's IoT platform, in the company's Smart Communities initiative.
Telco Transformation: What is the difference between a Smart City and a Smart Community, as you see it?
Daniel Feldman: We originally launched as Smart Cities almost three years ago, and the reason for the shift to rebranding it as Smart Communities was that the solutions that we had developed for the space had very horizontal applicability to things like universities, venues and sport stadiums, malls and counties -- so "cities" really boxed it and these technologies a lot more than they needed to be. "Communities" has really opened it up to a lot of other use cases. We spent a lot of time in the field talking to city planners, CIOs and mayors and "communities" really resonated with them as well, and so that's why we changed the name.
TT: What are those other use cases that this community focus has opened this technology up to?
DF: Well, let me just give you an example because we're doing a lot of work in venues and sports stadiums. The typical solutions that we would include in a city would be things like lighting, security, surveillance, which could be inside a stadium or outside a stadium, water metering, electric metering, parking and traffic management. All those city solutions fit perfectly in the stadium environment as well.
TT: One of the things that seems to be part of Verizon's Smart Communities messaging is the notion of collaboration between government officials and citizens. Is that at the heart of what Smart Communities is about?
DF: I think that's very accurate. The three things that we've really been focused on are sustainability -- what we call "livability" -- and then resiliency and public safety within cities. And this is, again, based on countless meetings with city leadership.
The "livability" aspect of it we would define as citizen expectations for things like safe parks, clean water and reduced traffic…If you read about millennials and how they're moving to different cities based on these conditions, it puts a lot of pressure on city leaders to make sure that they have these things in place, or they're losing their tax-paying citizens and businesses.
Sustainability is really the efficient use of limited resources, and Verizon has a lot of different technologies focused on sustainability, some of which I mentioned -- like the water metering, electric and gas metering, traffic management and things like that, and LED replacement of lightbulbs, to name a few IoT technologies that are focused on sustainability.
TT: Tell me more about the resiliency and public safety elements.
DF: Resiliency, pre-IoT, would be communicating between different departments and getting "feet on the street." So if there's an emergency, they can quickly deploy and have people communicate with citizens. In an IoT environment, I would argue that it's very different because you can get a lot of information from sensor data, and then -- based on that information -- you can control certain IoT technologies.
An example of that is gunshot detection -- gunshot detection and IoT technologies that can triangulate the sound of a gunshot and immediately notify first responders without the involvement of anybody calling 911.
Another example we often give is that of a water main break. A water sensor could determine that break, and then you might, if it was along a roadway, be able to access a video surveillance camera and look to see if there is water on the surface or if the street had collapsed. You could do things like reroute traffic. You could put alerts on digital signage; many lampposts have speaker systems where you could have audible alerts as well, or you could have a text message that goes out geographically to a mobile phone app.
So there are a whole bunch of different technologies in the IoT space that would enable you to communicate directly with citizens, whereas in the prior environment, again, you'd have to get feet on the street, which could take a long time and is a lot less efficient.
— Joe Stanganelli, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation