The wireless industry is clearly investing in the smart city concept. Both Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T) have teams dedicated to breaking open dialogue -- and sales -- between wireless players and city officials, with the goal of installing new technologies in metro areas that proponents say will make city life safer and more efficient.
And analysts generally agree on the major opportunity presented by smart cities.
"Thanks to data collected from sensors, smart cities can interact and engage with residents and businesses, creating a collaborative environment," said Gartner analyst Bettina Tratz-Ryan in a recent report predicting that smart cities will connect 1.6 billion things this year. "Citizens can actively contribute to the development and strategic direction of their city. At the same time, businesses become more empowered to utilize the sensor data to create their value proposition."
According to Gartner, commercial buildings, transportation and utilities will stand at the center of the smart city wave in the coming years.
But I think smart cities become much more interesting when you get into the details. For example, the City of San Jose has a new agreement with Silver Spring Networks under which SSN will build a citywide wireless network dubbed Starfish that the city will then make available to local developers so they can dream up their own smart city applications. Services that have been bandied about for the network include parking meters that can write their own tickets.
Another interesting example of the smart city potential comes from New York, where a public-private partnership dubbed LinkNYC is turning old payphones into Wi-Fi hotspots with the goal of providing fast, free Internet services to low-income New Yorkers.
Of course, questions remain. How can city regulators and private entities work together to effectively deploy these kinds of solutions? What kind of infrastructure needs to be in place for these services to work? And what kinds of business models should wireless players bring to the table?
These are the kinds of questions I'll be asking at my upcoming panel discussion at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday, Feb. 22 at the Fira Congress Hotel (located just a short walk from the Fira Gran Via). The event, "5 Steps to Building a Smart City" begins with a lunch at 12:30 p.m. and ends at 2 p.m. My panelists include:
- Vijay Sammeta, Chief Information Officer, City of San Jose;
- Minerva Tantoco, CTO, New York City;
- Mark Bartolomeo, VP, Connected Solutions – Internet of Things, Verizon;
- John Horn, CEO, Ingenu; and
- Ravi Chalaka, VP WW Solutions and Social Innovation Marketing, Hitachi.
If you want to know what the smart city opportunity means to you and your company, you'll want to be a part of my panel discussion. I'll also allow plenty of time for you to ask the panelists all your smart city-related questions. To register, click here. See you in Barcelona. --Mike | @mikeddano