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City of Tomorrow Challenge: 4 benefits of smart cities technology for the community

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Smart technology solutions are connecting citizens to their communities in new ways. They’re helping to solve problems that range from water shortages to public safety. By using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, we’re helping to create cities that are safer, more efficient, and sustainable for the future.

The City of Tomorrow Challenge gives residents, businesses, and community groups in Pittsburgh, Miami-Dade, and Grand Rapids an opportunity to identify needs of the city. They can explore, propose, and pilot new technology solutions. Stakeholders are then able provide input into the best innovations through crowd sourcing, local transportation journey mapping and community workshops.

To do this, it’s important to first understand how smart cities technology can benefit a community. Here are the four reasons we see at AT&T.

Citizen Engagement

Smart city solutions use technology to put people first and drive community engagement. For example, free Wi-Fi at bus stations and interactive touch-screen information kiosks make navigating a city easier for those passing through or finding the easiest way to the office. Smart cities help keep residents connected to the community they love, anywhere and at any time.

Through a series of community working sessions, the City of Tomorrow challenge is focused on community engagement. We’re bringing together people from across each city to develop a deep understanding of the mobility experiences faced by residents, businesses, community groups, and visitors. We’ll take that feedback, identify a solution, and then apply the technology that solves the problem.


Infrastructure is the backbone of a city. It’s the silent hero keeping everything in motion.

For example, with intelligent infrastructure, smart sensors and cameras, cities can remotely monitor the conditions of roads, bridges, buildings, parks, and other venues, through applications that are as easy to use as the smartphone we’re accustomed to.

Smart lighting solutions are another example. By retrofitting existing street lighting, cities can monitor traffic and road conditions. This data and insights allows us to proactively protect the community –behind the scenes.



Smart cities technology is improving how residents and travelers get from point A to point B, without any interruptions. At a large scale, cities can better manage traffic patterns of pedestrians, cars, bicycles, and more throughout the city. This helps avoid congestion and accidents.

We're also starting to realize the full potential of IoT to connect cars to each other and their surroundings. Smart cities will play an important role in connected vehicles being able to communicate with things like traffic lights and other transportation infrastructure. Are autonomous vehicles right around the corner? Well, if they are, we are prepared to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Public Safety

Smart cities also have a large impact on public safety. Imagine if paramedics could see what was happening at a car accident before they arrived by flying a drone to the scene of an accident. The potential to collect and analyze information in near real-time from an emergency could help EMS personnel make key decisions and jumpstart their response. We’re also connecting first responders with wearable cameras to provide “see-what-I-see” capabilities to support search and rescue. And gun fire detection technology can help law enforcement determine when and where a shooting occurred.

Technology improvements for public safety, are technology improvements for all of us.

Smart cities will continue to evolve and transform how we work, live and play. Investing in smart cities technology is a commitment to address the needs of residents today and in the future.  This requires a continuous effort to develop more accessible, sustainable, and equitable cities through innovative ideas that are human-centric, and it’s important to have the community take part.

With the City of Tomorrow Challenge, we’ll work with city leaders and other participants to implement a community driven pilot that ultimately will help the community become better place to live.

Michael Zeto | Vice President of AT&T Internet of Things and General Manager of Smart Cities

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Photo of Daniel Tisone

Michael, Very good points. My company, RUB A DUB and I agree with your statement that, "Infrastructure is the backbone of a city. It’s the silent hero keeping everything in motion." That is why we created "Mobility HUBs as a service". Check out our solution for infrastructure for today's emerging mobility companies within smart cities here: Would love to get your feedback! Thank you, Daniel

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