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The Future of Cities is Bright

By 3p Contributor

By Tim Fleming

What does the “city of the future” look like?

In an era of rapid technological advancement and increasing urbanization, it’s a fair question. Eighty percent of the U.S. population already lives in large cities* – each with a smartphone, wearable or other device in hand.

As such, city officials are beginning to piece together how those bits of technology can connect with assets like energy meters, garbage cans, street lights, traffic lights, water pipes and more. But, how do we make it all work together? By building a truly smart city.

A truly smart city is one with seamless connectivity that solves local problems and provides its inhabitants with safety, cleanliness and the most efficient ways to get from Point A to Point B. It’s a city that optimizes how we use valuable resources to help improve quality of life, positively impact our planet and open new economic opportunities. A truly smart city provides tremendous opportunities for its citizens and beyond.

Working with city officials, AT&T is helping to make cities cleaner, safer and stronger by providing secure connectivity and technology solutions that can help cities connect the dots – leading to environmental, social and economic benefits. As such, we are piloting a Smart Cities framework in several initial spotlight cities and communities around the country, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Miami-Dade County (Florida), Chapel Hill (North Carolina) and Montgomery County (Maryland).

And as of last week, we can add Columbus, Ohio, to the list of cities we will support. Last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced Columbus as the winner of the Department of Transportation (DOT) Smart City Challenge – a competition between 78 cities aiming to define what being a “smart city” means.

As part of its sponsorship, AT&T is giving the winning city up to $1 million in connectivity services – cellular, Wi-Fi and wireline – as well as hardware, products and services to support the development and deployment of smart city solutions in Columbus.

As noted by the U.S. DOT: “The city proposed to deploy three electric self-driving shuttles to link a new bus rapid transit center to a retail district, connecting more residents to jobs. Columbus also plans to use data analytics to improve health care access in a neighborhood that currently has an infant mortality rate four times that of the national average, allowing them to provide improved transportation options to those most in need of prenatal care.”

We’re looking forward to working hand-in-hand with the city of Columbus and Mayor Andrew Ginther to help it solve real environmental and social challenges in order to become the city of the future.

*Urban America: U.S. Cities in the Global Economy; McKinsey Global Institute; April 2012

Image credit: Pixabay

Tim Fleming is Director of Sustainability Operations for AT&T.

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