Smart Cities: AT&T pushes holistic approach

While there are a handful of cities that have begun to implement single solutions to tackle a specific issue, such as public safety or traffic congestion, many cities do not yet have a comprehensive strategy in place to address multiple needs of the city.

These single-point solutions can fail to deliver full value to cities and sometimes lack interoperability.  To provide the greatest benefits to citizens, a true ‘smart city’ requires an holistic strategy, developed through cross-departmental conversations, and shared resources and data. With our new AT&T Smart Cities framework, we feel well-positioned to guide cities through those conversations and support them in developing and implementing an integrated, holistic smart cities strategy.

  • To kick off Smart Cities Week, the White House on Monday announced more than $80 million in new federal funding for its year-old Smart Cities Initiative. For more details, click here.

In January, we launched our new AT&T Smart Cities Framework, which leverages our core competencies — secure connectivity, established working relationships, powerful, integrated solutions, and industry-leading multi-platforms. To help support this framework, we formed alliances with leading technology companies and industry organizations. Together with our alliance partners, we have launched Smart City pilot programs in select cities and municipalities across the country, including Atlanta, Chapel Hill NC, Chicago, Dallas, Miami-Dade County FL, and Montgomery County MD. The goal is to help these cities develop and implement a holistic smart cities strategy that addresses many of the challenges facing their communities and, ultimately, improve the quality of life for their citizens.

“we have launched Smart City pilot programs in select cities… Atlanta, Chapel Hill NC, Chicago, Dallas, Miami-Dade County FL, and Montgomery County MD”

We are committed to helping foster a national conversation around smart cities.

Being a sponsor of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge was a natural fit for us. It ignited nationwide interest and excitement around smart cities solutions and drew more than 78 cities to entered the contest with Columbus OH ultimately being named the winner. As part of our sponsorship, AT&T committed to providing the winning city with up to $1 million in in-kind services, which could include connectivity, consulting, and other products and services. And for the cities that did not win, we will continue to work with them on strategies to help them move their visions forward, too.

Also, in September 2015, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and several partners, including AT&T, launched the Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC). The challenge was designed to bring communities and innovators together to encourage collaboration on a range of issues from disaster response to energy management to mass transit improvement. Together, we demonstrated a jointly developed proof-of-concept solution for leak detection as part of the NIST Challenge.

Desert conservation: Partnering with IBM and AT&T, Echologics, and the EchoShore-TX deployment in Las Vegas are all part of the Global City Teams Challenge. Here, AT&T provides the wireless connectivity to collect, transmit and manage data from the EchoShore-TX monitoring nodes, and IBM-developed software provides water management analytics.

smart solutions support sustainability

One of the cities that ‘trialed’ our solution was Las Vegas. In cooperation with the Nevada Center of Excellence, we set out to prove there that IoT technology can help address the issue of water sustainability. The Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD) used the new solution technology to manage the water supply pipeline and limit potential water loss. LVVWD was able to monitor the pipe for small, sub-surface leaks, which gave them a better opportunity to fix them before they developed into larger leaks. The solution reduced their risk and allowed them to focus their maintenance efforts to targeted sections of pipe.

In Las Vegas and elsewhere, we’re already seeing increasing demand placed on more cities as job seekers and corporations relocate to more urban areas. This urbanization, along with aging infrastructure and growing concerns about climate change and sustainability will bring a complex set of challenges to municipal leadership.  We believe that smart cities solutions will become even more critical to a city’s vitality in the next five to 10 years.

We’ve found that a clear vision, committed leadership, conducive organizational structure, and willing partners can move projects from ideation to implementation. AT&T aims to help cities mitigate this complexity, and develop a strategy that is realistic, effective and efficient.


Based in Atlanta GA, the author is General Manager and Executive Director for AT&T’s Smarter Cities business unit, responsible for the teams that drive the strategy, product development, business development and go-to-market path for this growing unit within AT&T’s Internet of Things Division. Prior to that, Zeto was a Director of Strategy at AT&T in its Mobile & Business Solutions organization. 

This article was adapted from a broader interview on the Smart Cities Week website.