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With 70% of internet of things (IoT) devices expected to use cellular connections by 2022, cities are looking ahead to determine the best way to handle and support the technology, according to Ericsson’s Internet of Things forecast report. 

“There is a big area of opportunity for us over the next three to five years to work together as an ecosystem to really help cities scale and provide value in an equitable way,” said Mike Zito, general manager of AT&T Smart Cities Business.

The next step toward developing successful smart cities involves the coordination and presence of various teams in cities, specifically those involved with cellular towers, cellular manufacturing, and safety response teams, according to techrepublic.com.

Cellular tower – “In smart cities or in a buildout of different types of IoT solutions, we want to be able to provide that infrastructure,” said Edward Knapp, chief technology officer of the American Tower Corporation. “What it starts out with is space, power, and connectivity—those are the fundamentals that we provide.”

“There’s a lot of good technology, but the real opportunity here is to look at the use cases and solutions for customers that really take the long timescale to get in place,” Knapp said. “It’s the people in the process part that’s really the most challenging.” 

On the cellular tower side, Knapp said a lot of the initial hangups with developing smart cities has to do with privacy and regulatory issues. The way to figure that out though is through trial and error and just getting people in the city onboard, he said. 

Cellular manufacturing – The role of cellular manufacturers is obviously connectivity, according to Zito. “Connectivity is the thread that’s weaved through all of these IoT solutions that help you create a smart city. But we’ve really taken the approach to create end-to-end solutions and act as a master systems integrator to help cities drive a strategy with holistic outcomes,” Zito added.

However, to get to a place where city’s benefit most from this technology, mayoral or city manager support was critical. Zito said: “Where we found success is when we had a mayor or city manager that believed in the smart city’s vision and who knew that there were problems that could be solved through using innovative technology.” 

Cities at the forefront of becoming smart cities also have a dedicated CIO or CTO in place to start developing this holistic strategy and speaking with the other different teams, including cellular towers and public safety. 

Safety Response – The role of safety and response is twofold, said panelist Jennifer Harder, senior director for product of the first responder network authority at FirstNet. 

“One, looking at the smart cities concept and saying public safety is a major component, so cities must think about their first responders and how they’re equipping them.

Two, even beyond just the cities themselves and the governmental entities. Public safety is an industry that you can leverage. How are the developers thinking about what public safety could do with the technologies that you’ve developed?'” she added. 

“We can’t have one piece working without the other,” Harder said. “Some of the areas we’ve seen good successes is when public safety is able to articulate a technology need or an idea that other departments, other silos, other areas can see a correlational benefit from.” The key to successful smart cities is collaboration. If cities want to become smart, they must communicate and collaborate between teams in a smart way.

Interested in learning more about smart city technologies? Attend iHLS InnoTech Expo Tel Aviv – Israel’s largest innovation, HLS and cyber technologies expo – on November 18-19, 2020 at Expo Tel Aviv, Pavilion 2.

For details and registration