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Why Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas are moving from "apps" to "frameworks"

Submitted by doug.peeples on January 8, 2016

In the early days of the smart city movement, most cities built applications one at a time, typically for just one department. More and more, however, cities are realizing they don’t want to learn a separate tool for every separate application. Nor do they want the hard work of getting those individual apps to talk to each other to share data.

Instead, cities are turning to comprehensive tools that can create a wide variety of apps for a wide variety of departments. Some people use the term “platform,” but AT&T (a Lead Partner of the Council) prefers the term “framework.” They have just announced a broad portfolio of new offerings -- from infrastructure monitoring to transportation -- to help cities do a better job of taking care of their citizens. – Jesse Berst

Council Lead Partner AT&T's new multi-faceted smart cities strategy includes bringing a 'smart cities framework' to selected cities and universities. And the company has signed on several major players as partners to ensure success. In addition to Deloitte and Ericsson, AT&T has partnered with Council Lead Partners Cisco, GE, IBM, Qualcomm and Associate Partner Intel.

"We've built strong relationships with cities across the U.S. for over 100 years. We're continuing to be a leader in smart cities innovation," said Mike Zeto, general manager for Smart Cities, AT&T IoT Solutions. "Our holistic strategy can help cities save money, conserve energy, improve quality of life, and further engage with their citizens."

AT&T has worked with cities on issues like connecting gas and electric meters, street lighting and water networks. The framework expands that list with an array of offerings:

  • Infrastructure: Remote monitoring of the conditions of roads and bridges in addition to buildings, parks and more.
  • Transportation: Digital signage to let commuters know in almost real-time about bus and train arrival schedules, and electric bike rentals to help cities cut down on vehicle traffic.
  • Public safety: Management of pedestrian traffic at high traffic locations such as stadiums and busy intersections, and gunfire detection technology to locate shootings and pass the information and other details to law enforcement.
  • Citizen engagement: Mobile apps to alert people of problems they could encounter during their travels such as out of commission traffic lights, and give them the ability to find available parking meters and reserve parking spaces.

The company also is working on a digital dashboard to provide cities a detailed overview of the conditions of their communities and the ability to monitor for problems like power outages, water leaks and traffic congestion from a central location.

AT&T's 'Spotlight cities'
AT&T will take its new program first to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology, all of which have expressed a strong commitment to make their cities cleaner, safer and more efficient.

AT&T's announcement was made during its Developers Summit held in conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Showcase in Las Vegas this week.

Related articles:
IoT Evolution: AT&T joins Smart Cities Council, continues investing in industry leadership

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.