AT&T working with Maxwell Air Force Base to showcase IoT tech

AT&T's pilot program at Maxwell AFB will plug network-connected sensors into everyday operations.

Many U.S. operators are interested in supplying technology for smart cities, including AT&T, but the operator is also working with the Air Force to show the potential of the internet of things (IoT) for the military here in the U.S.

Specifically, AT&T is working with Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, in a pilot program to plug network-connected sensors into everyday operations. AT&T said it plans to create proof-of-concept demonstrations of smart perimeters, gate monitoring, notifications, fleet management and more with Maxwell, noting that a highly secure and connected “smart base” is more efficient and effective. 

The concept of a smart base is kind of an outgrowth of what AT&T is doing corporate-wide with smart cities. A base is basically a small city in and of itself, with traffic lights, grocery stores and residential areas, said Rocky Thurston, Air Force client executive vice president, AT&T Global Public Sector Solutions.

“We coined the term smart base because we think it’s very relevant,” he told FierceWirelessTech. “We’re proud to be a part of this initial pilot with Maxwell.”

The solutions can use a range of IoT technologies—Wi-Fi, ZigBee, LTE and others—but the base is powered by a private LTE network, which affords a number of other opportunities. The pilot will explore solutions for different things like security, garbage collection and traffic—it’s all about tying the individual things together to provide informative feedback to the base.

For example, if someone is crossing the perimeter of the base and they shouldn’t be there, the base patrols could get a text notification to let them know what’s going on. It could also be connected to vehicles so that they know the closest officer to the location of the incident. The idea is to aggregate information from various areas to make the whole operation work more efficiently and effectively.

As a side note, Thurston said he does hear a lot of desire on the part of military bases across the country to improve their wireless coverage, and while there’s also a desire to provide more and better coverage, there’s also the matter of getting through the red tape required to site things like towers at or near bases.