Verizon boosts role in smart cities and farms services

Smart lighting, parking and car sharing seen in demand

Cities: Skylines

Verizon's Enterprise Solutions unit today announced a bigger push into smart cities and smart agricultural support services that rely on wireless networks and Internet of Things technologies.

The new initiatives include alliances with the Smart Cities Council and the Thrive Accelerator mentorship program to promote smart farming. Verizon is also a partner in an AgTech Summit coming in July with Forbes.

Dan Feldman, Verizon's director of IoT Smart Cities, said city leaders in the U.S. are interested in investing in smart streetlights, car sharing and smart parking to find greater efficiencies. Verizon last year created an Auto Share service to connect drivers to vehicles via Verizon's 4G LTE network.

Verizon has been active in a number of connected services in cities for years. In Charlotte, N.C., Verizon joined with Duke Energy to connect buildings in the commercial district with kiosks that help the community track energy consumption. People can also connect via social media alerts. Over two years, Charlotte has been able to reduce power consumption by 8.4%, at a savings of $10 million, Verizon said.

Smart cities and farms are more than buzz words. Cities are increasingly willing to invest in new IoT technology and wireless carriers and network providers have been actively involved. In Kansas City, Mo., last week, the City Council voted to authorize a contract with Cisco and its partners that envisions video sensors, free public Wi-Fi, 25 interactive kiosks, and smart lighting along a 2.2 mile-streetcar line that's under construction in the downtown area.

In that example, the city would invest $3.7 million and Cisco and partners another $12 million over the next decade. Sprint, which is located nearby in Overland Park, Kan., is considering working with the city on the project.

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