General Electric Co’s energy services startup Current and Telecom conglomerate AT&T Inc have signed an exclusive agreement to connect cities across the US and Mexico to the Internet of Things (IoT). The companies say that they expect to unlock a “realm of possibilities” to improve the way cities operate, communicate and meet the needs of citizens.
Branded as ‘Current, powered by GE’, the business unit was incorporated by bringing together GE’s commercial and industrial LED lighting, solar power, energy storage, and energy vehicle businesses, along with industrial IoT platform Predix in 2015. Current works with customers such as cities, commercial buildings and industrial facilities to slash energy costs and create intelligent environments. Its platform, the company says, enables a wide variety of developers to create new applications that could improve safety, productivity, energy efficiency and other issues that impact municipal, commercial and industrial customers.
Since launching its Smart Cities organisation in 2015, AT&T has been using its resources and IoT expertise to create solutions for cities. With its smart cities framework as the foundation, for the past year AT&T has been providing solutions to cities for developing and implementing a holistic smart cities strategy to address their current and future needs.
The agreement with Current significantly extends AT&T’s smart city services, plus opens new revenue opportunities for the company. By introducing GE’s Predix-powered IoT platform, AT&T can use outdoor LED lighting in a city to create a digital infrastructure that helps address issues like traffic flow and parking optimisation, gunshot detection on city streets, air quality monitoring and weather emergency alerts.
Intelligent lighting plays a huge role in a smart city, says Chris Penrose, president, Internet of Things Solutions, AT&T. “Our collaboration with Current will enable us to use a city’s existing lighting infrastructure to more securely connect sensor-enabled networks. This will put them on the path to becoming a smarter, more sustainable city.”
Chief digital officer of Current, John Gordon, says, “We are thrilled to expand Current’s relationship with AT&T to help cities redefine the civic engagement model—our digital network is based on an open platform, which allows entrepreneurs, incubators and students to get involved in the future development of smart city applications. AT&T has a long history of working commercially with municipalities, and our technology will be a perfect fit toward helping more cities unleash the limitless potential of the Industrial Internet.”
According to Gordon, the goal is to bring the combined power of GE and AT&T to municipalities in a way that pulls from the best of both worlds. “We are two companies with more than a century of success in solving big problems, and we believe our combined innovation can help build a better world.”
Adds Mike Zeto, general manager, AT&T Smart Cities, “Innovation is at the core of who we are and what we do. AT&T and GE are the companies that modernised the telephone and light bulb. Together, we will usher in a new digital frontier, giving cities and citizens alike the benefits of a connected city.”
The two companies have collaborated before. Current, recently announced a deal with the city of San Diego in the US to upgrade thousands of the city’s outdoor light fixtures to sensor-enabled LED technology. AT&T will act as the data carrier and provide highly secure connectivity for the San Diego deployment, which is expected to save the city approximately $2.4 million in annual energy costs. In addition, the deal builds on AT&T’s membership in GE’s Digital Alliance program, where it serves as a connectivity-as-a-service collaborator for GE’s Predix platform.