AT&T smart cities collaboration
The collaboration of AT&T with 7 IoT firms is expected will upgrade Atalanta, Chicago and Dallas' power, traffic and water management systems

In the US,  telecoms firm, AT&T has reported that it is working with Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas on smart city innovations that incorporate Internet of Things (IoT) technology from Cisco, Deloitte, Ericsson, GE, IBM, Intel and Qualcomm Technologies.

The collaboration includes AT&T developing a digital dashboard to help the three cities to monitor and address power outages, water leaks and traffic.

According to a Computerworld publication, the dashboard, Smart City Network Operation Center will allow the cities to monitor thousands of sensors and networks for near real-time observations.

The firm will install utility meters, street lights and water systems into a smart grid with cloud computing connections.

AT&T will work in conjunction with the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Chicago CIO Brenna Berman said the collaboration will "create a safer, cleaner and more efficient city."

Smart cities in the US

The development follows an announcement by the US government in September 2015 of a new smart cities initiative that promised US$160 million in federal grants in a locally-based and technology-focused approach to help cities deal with growth and infrastructure challenges.

The White House also announced a variety of public-private programmes that are underway to assist cities in coping with issues related to economic growth, water, energy and waste.

According to its website, the White House has over the last few years followed a “place-based approach” to working with communities, involving civic leaders, data scientists, technologists and companies in creating smart communities – “building an infrastructure to continuously improve the collection, aggregation, and use of data to improve the life of their residents – by harnessing the growing data revolution, low-cost sensors, and research collaborations, and doing so securely to protect safety and privacy.”

Cisco Systems, the US-based technology company, voted amongst the top 10 smart city providers, highlighted the role of the Internet of Things in the creation of networked communities and cities. It stated that cities present “fertile ground” to benefit from connecting people, process, data, and things – the Internet of Everything (IoE). 5 The company estimateed that IoT will save the public sector US$4.6 trillion between now and 2023.

Necessary to any smart city development is the availability of sufficient network infrastructure. The smart cities concept has paved the way for IT and telco convergence – as a result of IoT, big data and the cloud are coming together to produce an endless stream of new information.