Smart Cities and Internet of Things – IBM and AT&T Partnership

Its kind of hard to avoid not hearing about the “Internet of Things. The growing number of everyday consumer and enterprise devices that will soon be connected to the Internet is actually quite staggering. Expect to see smart factories, telecommuting support systems and Intelligent traffic management systems all connected. In recognition of this fact, two U.S. giants, AT&T and IBM have signed a new global alliance agreement to develop solutions that help support the “Internet of Things.”  The firms will combine their analytic platforms, cloud, and security tech with privacy in mind to gain more insights on data collected from machines in a variety of industries. 

According to industry analyst firm IDC, the installed base for the Internet of Things will grow to approximately 212 billion devices by 2020, a number that includes 30 billion connected devices. IDC sees this growth driven largely by intelligent systems that will be installed and collecting data — across both consumer and enterprise applications. Its this market, that Big Blue and AT&T want to tap.

The new joint project will focus initially on helping local city officials and midsize utilities analyze vast quantities of Big Data, including data from mass transit vehicles, utility meters, and video cameras. “As a result, cities may be able to better evaluate patterns and trends to improve urban planning and utilities can better manage their equipment to reduce costs,” the announcement said. Through the partnership, AT&T will leverage its expertise with sensor communications and tracking happening over the cellular network and IBM will bring its Big Data analytics platforms to make sense of it all.

Real working examples could see Cities using this approach to better and control manage traffic. Utility companies could more closely monitor their customers’ energy usage. Transportation firms could better manage their fleets of vehicles. The two companies ambitions go further than traffic lights and energy usage however. IBM and AT&T also plan to integrate data culled from social networking, tracking how residents and visitors to enabled cities comment about infrastructure, weather, and significant traffic conditions, and automatically factoring in that information into real-time planning. These “insights from public crowdsourcing” will help organizations “to better listen, respond, and predict” IBM’s VP, Strategy & Business Development, Rick Qualman suggests.

Finally, it is important to recognize that the Smarter Cities concept and the Internet of Things, while similar, are actually not quite the same. In an interview with CMSWire, Katharine Frase, Chief Technology Officer with IBM’s Public Sector business, described Smarter Cities as being much more developed. She also stated that at least in the public sector, the concept and practice of taking big data from all kinds of devices to provide actionable insights has a long history both in and outside the United States.

To finish a video: The Internet of Things by IBMSocialMedia