Smart Cities

Verizon is Spreading its Smart City Wings

Everyone wants a piece of the IoT pie and wireless communications giant Verizon is no different. The New York based firm has made several significant acquisitions in the internet of things (IoT) space in the last few months alone, and seems to be enacting a strategy that will make it a major player in the emerging sector. Verizon’s diverse portfolio of activities was built on a foundation of wireless communication. Today its US wireless network is made up of 113.2 million retail connections but the company also provides communications, entertainment and integrated business solutions to customers worldwide. Late last year Verizon launched its ThingSpace platform, a web-based, self-service interface that lets developers create IoT applications and partners market their services: "This platform has been designed to give developers an easy on-ramp into IoT. It provides [developers] with a single pane of glass to design, test, deploy, manage and market the solutions they are bringing to […]

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Everyone wants a piece of the IoT pie and wireless communications giant Verizon is no different. The New York based firm has made several significant acquisitions in the internet of things (IoT) space in the last few months alone, and seems to be enacting a strategy that will make it a major player in the emerging sector.

Verizon’s diverse portfolio of activities was built on a foundation of wireless communication. Today its US wireless network is made up of 113.2 million retail connections but the company also provides communications, entertainment and integrated business solutions to customers worldwide.

Late last year Verizon launched its ThingSpace platform, a web-based, self-service interface that lets developers create IoT applications and partners market their services:

"This platform has been designed to give developers an easy on-ramp into IoT. It provides [developers] with a single pane of glass to design, test, deploy, manage and market the solutions they are bringing to IoT at a much faster pace than they've had in the past," said Mike Lanman, senior vice president of Enterprise Products at Verizon, who leads the carrier's IoT team.

Verizon seems to be seeking to add a leading comprehensive suite of smart city solutions enabled by its ThingSpace platform to “help communities increase economic development, drive citizen engagement and enable sustainability.” And this strategy has come to the fore in the last few months with three smart city acquisitions.

Perhaps the most significant of the three was their purchase of smart lighting firm Sensity Systems in September. Sensity Systems capitalizes on conversions to LED lighting to create a high-speed, sensor-based, multiservice IoT platform, at the time of the acquisition it had 42 smart city installations across the globe.

“Rapid urbanization is putting a huge strain on city services globally, coupled with inefficiencies caused by an aging infrastructure that currently supports critical functions, such as fire and emergency services, public transportation, lighting, sewer and sanitation systems. Sensity realized early on that IoT could be the key to breaking out of this dilemma,” explained Sensity’s Chairman and CEO Hugh Martin.

Together the two companies will be well positioned to become a leader in the smart lighting and IoT space. “Sensity is a leading provider of IoT solutions for smart communities with a strong ecosystem of partners, and this transaction will accelerate the deployment of large-scale implementations that will drive the digital transformation of cities, universities and venues,” said Lanman.

There is a very large opportunity to develop the retrofit market that supplies lighting controls into existing installations, states our recent lighting industry report. New construction projects account for, perhaps, 3-5% of non-domestic floor space each year; the existing building market offers up to 10 times more projects, the report points out.

It’s not just in lighting that Verizon is spreading its IoT wings. In June, Verizon announced the acquisition of Telogis Inc, a global, cloud-based mobile enterprise management software company based in California. Followed by the purchase of Fleetmatics Group PLC, a Dublin, Ireland, based provider of fleet and mobile workforce management solutions.

Then, just last week, Verizon announced that it has purchased all of the assets of LQD WiFi LLC, “seeking to accelerate communities' smart infrastructure and ignite the new fabric of urban spaces.” LQD WiFi designs Palo unified technology hubs; street-smart kiosks that provide essential community information, wayfinding, public safety announcements, free public wi-fi, security cameras, emergency calling, and area lighting.

Next-generation urban technology is becoming increasingly important as citizen's expectations for smart city infrastructure increases. With LQD's technology, Verizon aims to address key community needs such as fostering economic development, bridging the digital divide, facilitating transportation and traffic management and enhancing personal security and urban planning.

"LQD's Palo technology hubs capture Verizon's vision of delivering citizen engagement experiences by connecting people with their communities,” said Lanman. “This transaction uniquely positions us to utilize our unmatched infrastructure, platforms and network at scale to deploy elegant and engaging community technology hubs that connect, inform, inspire and support people where they live, work and play."

Verizon has developed an array of connected solutions including intelligent parking, lighting, traffic management and security that improve livability, resiliency and public safety for local communities. LQD's assets will be integrated with the market-leading smart community infrastructure gained from the Sensity Systems acquisition.

2016 is set to be a banner year for Verizon’s IoT ambitions as the firm positions itself at the forefront of the smart city movement.

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