"When you join the capabilities together we have a nice set of joint technologies that provide a complete solution to organizations that are looking to gain insight and gain leverage from connected devices," Curry said. "So we're looking to combine the analytics the cloud and security capabilities from IBM with the network capabilities from AT&T and applying that initially to the Smarter Cities activities where we're doing things like collecting data from video surveillance cameras, connected parking meters, connected sensors that are sensing traffic patterns, sensors that are sensing air pollution levels, water pollution levels, water flow – all those things that can generally be used in managing cities."
IBM has rolled those things up into a set of applications that enable city planners and city operations teams to more effectively manage operations to improve the quality of life for citizens and do things such as respond more quickly to emergencies, reduce costs of repairs and do predictive maintenance on specific pieces of equipment or help to monetize things like parking to generate more revenue, Curry said.
Indeed, key capabilities for city planners in connected cities include being able to better allocate and distribute resources based on information reported from incidents and service disruptions, and analyze the movement of people to improve traffic management, parking capacity, location and number of first unit responders. City officials can better prepare and react to potential bottlenecks and other issues in case of an emergency. Other capabilities include being able to identify inefficient traffic patterns so that traffic can be re-routed, to better allocate public safety resources in places where a majority of people congregate, and to monitor social media updates from citizens reporting bad weather or major traffic so the city can take best course of action.
IBM's alliance with AT&T is a nice extension to Big Blue's MobileFirst strategy, Curry said.
"The lines between mobile and the Internet of Things are starting to blur," he noted. "In a lot of cases your mobile device is the connection for your things into the cloud. In a lot of cases the mobile device can act as a remote control to your 'things,' like in the example of the connected vehicle where you use your phone to unlock your car or start it remotely. Or it can be the display of what's going on with your 'things.' The lines are blurring and the mobile device is just another connected thing in that world.
"So you need to have some consistency in how you communicate across those two channels and have a good publish/subscribe event-driven architecture between them. And you need to be able to develop applications very quickly that take advantage of the information and the connectivity of those things. So we’re finding that the MobileFirst development platform becomes a great platform – particularly our Worklight technology – for building these types of applications that control and take advantage of the data that's being produced by the Internet of Things."
According to industry analyst firm IDC, the installed base for the Internet of things will grow to approximately 212 billion devices by 2020, a number that includes 30 billion connected devices. IDC sees this growth driven largely by intelligent systems that will be installed and collecting data—across both consumer and enterprise applications.
In the latest iteration of Current Analysis’ Global M2M Service provider rankings, principal analyst Kitty Weldon wrote that "AT&T is positioned as a global leader in providing M2M services and has demonstrated excellent traction for its initiatives with customers."
IBM and AT&T are participants in the "SmartAmerica Challenge," led by Presidential Innovation Fellows Sokwoo Rhee and Geoff Mulligan. The project aims to build several "Internet of Things" testbeds around the country by May 2014. The network would aim to show what cyber-physical systems can do to improve safety, sustainability, efficiency, mobility, and overall quality of life.