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Creating the city of the future today

Published: Sep 20, 2017
Author: Sean Harrington, VP of City Solutions, Verizon

Cities are always looking for new ways to maintain high standards of living, better connect with citizens and find ways to save money—all while serving growing populations. As part of their efforts to become smarter, many cities are turning to Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technologies to improve municipal services and create additional sources of revenue.

Better technology integration and connectivity can help solve critical problems, starting today. For example, light sensory networks (LSNs)—high-speed, sensor-based networks that leverage LED lighting systems—can help create safer streets, aid navigation of vehicles and pedestrians, and reduce energy costs and consumption.

LED lights that use sensors to adapt to changing lighting levels improve illumination while conserving energy. Because it’s a network, an LED-based LSN can also be integrated with additional smart city capabilities, such as:

  • Smart video can be used to detect suspicious behavior using computer vision software and directly alert law enforcement, helping to create safer public spaces.
  • Traffic management applications running on an LSN can improve pedestrian flow, decrease traffic congestion, reduce emissions through better vehicle management and enhance convenience by directing drivers to open parking spots.
  • Near real-time detection and alerting features can alert citizens to power failures or other municipal emergencies.
  • Beacons and other sensors can help local businesses to generate new revenue streams, through targeted sales messages and omnichannel shopping experiences.

LSNs also interact with other connected technologies, such as digital interactive kiosks. Located in areas where people tend to congregate, digital kiosks can post public notices and community news alerts; provide navigation guidance and information about city services; offer Wi-Fi access to those in the vicinity; provide emergency calling and security alerts; and generate advertising revenue for the city and for local businesses.

The advancement of smart city technology relies on the deployment of an increasing number of sensors, resulting in growing amounts of data generated and consumed. This increased data flow creates increased bandwidth needs on communication networks. To meet these demands, cities sometimes opt for public-private partnerships—like the one recently announced between Verizon and the city of Sacramento, California—to help get the required infrastructure in place.

As cities look toward the future, IoT and M2M technologies will be important for establishing new levels of connectivity between critical infrastructure, municipal agencies and the city’s residents, workers and visitors. Smart cities of the future can help improve public safety, meet sustainability objectives, and manage costs—all while helping to increase the overall quality of life of citizens and guests.


At Verizon, one of our goals is to provide the technology municipalities require to improve the quality of life for people living in cities around the world. It’s not just about smart technology, connectivity or applications; it starts with a focus on the people and their basic wants and needs. We partner with each city to design infrastructure, systems and processes that elevate the way they provide services in new and cost-effective ways.