As Verizon's Internet of Things division transitions from a traditional "Smart Cities" model to a more inclusive "Smart Communities" philosophy, it takes a village -- or, at least, a big and broad acquisition portfolio -- to enable the Smart Communities reality.
With a bevy of announcements regarding new tools, new acquisitions and integration of Verizon and Verizon subsidiary assets, Verizon has been approaching enterprise IoT holistically -- particularly where its Smart Cities vertical is concerned; the company has since rebranded its Smart Cities business as "Smart Communities."
Previously, in Part 1 of this Q&A with Telco Transformation, Daniel Feldman, director of product and new business innovation for IoT at Verizon, talked up Verizon's Smart Communities rebranding approach; in Part 2, Feldman highlighted Verizon ThingSpace -- the telco's IoT DevOps platform powered by big-data analytics -- as a key component to Verizon Smart Communities. (See Feldman: ThingSpace the IoT Lynchpin of Verizon's Smart Communities and Verizon's Feldman: IoT Focus Shifts From Smart Cities to Smart Communities .)
Now, in Part 3, Feldman talks more in depth about the tools and acquisitions Verizon is leveraging to make Smart Communities a reality.
Telco Transformation: Verizon Smart Communities has started deploying digital kiosks in some areas -- kiosks that sit in key areas of the city and enable, in the words of Lani Ingram, Vice President of Smart Communities for Verizon, "a way to create a positive engagement between the government's leaders and the people." (See Verizon's IoT Strategy: Smart Communities.) What can you tell me about that?
Daniel Feldman: One of the challenges that cities have had is direct communication with the citizens, and the digital kiosk is really a unique solution because it leverages a lot of different technologies that Verizon has to offer.
The bottom screen on the kiosk, which is at eye level, has a lot of different technologies to engage with citizens. So the screen could have points of interest, neighborhood news, local restaurants, transportation options and things like that. There's also an emergency call button on the side, so if somebody is in trouble, they can push that button and it will send an alert to 911.
The kiosk also has fiber connectivity going into it, and because of that we can do a number of things. One is that we can put a WiFi signal out, and the other thing is that we can build a small cell into the kiosk -- so the kiosk gets designed at a height that is optimal for us to enhance the wireless network via small cell technology.
The top of the kiosk has more information. There's another screen on the top, and that can be used for content delivery, digital advertising, city information and other things that we'd want to communicate. But the great thing about that is that the digital content can translate into revenue for the city, so the return on investment for a city to install these kiosks is very quick.
TT: How have you seen some of those revenue models deployed with these kiosks?
DF: I can't talk about the revenue models, but we have a number of cities that have already committed to deploy them. These kiosks you'll see deployed in a minimum of three cities within this quarter.
TT: At December's annual IoT Platforms and Apps Forum, Verizon Wireless's Senior Manager of IoT Partnerships, Steven Perlberg, announced, "Where Verizon is going [is] what we call 'Smart Pillars of the Future." (See IoT: What Do Customers Really Need? ) Would you be able to break down these "Smart Pillars" for me?
DF: We often internally refer to some of the different solutions as "pillars." As I mentioned before [in Q&A Parts 1 and 2], there's lighting; there's traffic; there's video surveillance; there's parking; there are kiosks; there are utility solutions; and, for transportation solutions, like telematics, we have a shared solution, Hum. (See Verizon Hums a Driving Tune.) Mapquest is part of us, and we just acquired Telogis and Fleetmatics. (See Verizon Buys Big Into IoT With $2.4B Fleetmatics Deal.) We have the ThingSpace platform, which is an overarching IoT platform that all these technologies connect in to, and then there are a lot of consumer offerings. So, internally, we've often referenced these as different pillars within the organization.
TT: Are there any other tools that have been released or are in the pipeline in the Smart Communities family that you can discuss?
DF: We just acquired the company LQD WiFi. (See Verizon Buys Smart City Kiosk Player.) LQD WiFi is the maker of the digital kiosk, which we talked about a little bit.
The recent acquisition of Sensity, I think, would be worth calling out. Sensity is a company that does street lighting, and they have a video node. That video node has advanced analytics where you can do parking, traffic management, or even video surveillance as well. It is one of the first times that we've seen a single install go out on the lamppost that has a multiple technology capability like that, so that was a pretty big acquisition. (See Verizon Lights Up IoT Platform With Sensity Systems .)
— Joe Stanganelli, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation