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Starting with Cities, AT&T and IBM Collaborate to Enable Internet of Things

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Starting with Cities, AT&T and IBM Collaborate to Enable Internet of Things


February 20, 2014

By Rachel Ramsey, Content Director

Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a number of things in our lives become “smart” – our phones, our cars and even our homes are all transforming as part of the Internet of Things, which encompasses different devices connecting to the Internet and communicating with each other. A big market for machine to machine (M2M) solutions and the IoT are the cities that host all of these devices and systems – the connectivity improves efficiency and reduces costs for infrastructure, utilities and systems.

AT&T and IBM (News - Alert) are working together to develop solutions for the Internet of Things, and are starting with a focus on municipalities, mid-size utility companies and transportation companies. AT&T’s (News - Alert) Advanced Solution unit will provide network connectivity and IBM’s software division will provide the software and integration.

The move makes sense, especially since both AT&T and IBM have already built a foundation of M2M solutions and programs. IBM in particular focuses on Smarter Cities as part of its Smarter Planet initiative as a means to drive sustainable economic growth across a number of areas, including public safety, economic impact, healthcare, education, smarter buildings and government.  

AT&T offers M2M solutions that connect and track assets in industries like airline and fleet management, embed communications in industrial machinery, and capture performance data for heavy equipment. The new global alliance with IBM will help introduce new capabilities around analytics in other verticals that include connected cities, transportation, utilities and healthcare.

Spokespeople from AT&T and IBM explained to TMC (News - Alert) that cities are the ideal place to start because they are complex systems that generate vast amounts of information. Cities can begin to harness the streams of information from sensors to manage municipal systems better. Using the Internet of Things, sensors embedded in a wide array of systems serving the public -- including traffic signals, buses, trains, parking spaces and water systems -- report the status of the system they are monitoring via the Internet.

“Combining AT&T’s highly-secure and reliable global network and M2M technology with IBM's deep expertise in working with cities provides the optimum infrastructure for the next wave of technology innovation that will accompany the growth of the Internet of Things,” the spokespeople said.

 Big data is a huge opportunity as M2M technology grows. Sensors and other technologies are gathering data from so many different endpoints, and organizations can use that data to gain insight on machine performance, human behavior and business productivity.

Governmental leaders can use information from connected cities to fight crime, respond better to emergencies, conserve water, provide healthcare services and coordinate transportation. The Internet of Things is also making it possible for cities to use technology such as IBM's Intelligent Operations Center to view their city’s vital signs on a computer dashboard to find out instantly what’s working well and what isn’t.

Navigant Research estimates that the global market for Smart Cities technology will grow from $6.1 billion annually in 2012 to more than $20 billion in 2020, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.2 percent. This represents a cumulative investment of over $117 billion in smart city technologies between 2012 and 2020.

"Smarter cities, cars, homes, machines and consumer devices will drive the growth of the Internet of Things along with the infrastructure that goes with them, unleashing a wave of new possibilities for data gathering, predictive analytics, and automation," said Rick Qualman, vice president, Strategy & Business Development, Telecom Industry, IBM. "The new collaboration with AT&T will offer insights from crowdsourcing, mobile applications, sensors and analytics on the cloud, enabling all organizations to better listen, respond and predict."

The spokespeople explain AT&T and IBM intend to work together on developing solutions at the AT&T M2M Foundry in Plano, Texas and IBM Global Solution Centers around the world. While the initial focus is around connecting cities and utilities, the two companies plan on expanding and collaboration on solutions to impact other industries. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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