In a move to develop solutions that help support the “Internet of Things,” IBM and AT&T have formed a new global alliance. The companies plan to combine their analytics platforms, cloud, and security technologies to gain more insights from data collected from machines in a variety of industries -- with privacy in mind.
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 applications.
The initial focus is to create solutions targeting city governments and mid-size utilities. Big Blue and AT&T intend to integrate and analyze vast quantities of data from assets such as mass transit vehicles, utility meters, and video cameras. The anticipated result: Cities may be able to better evaluate patterns and trends to improve urban planning and utilities can better manage their equipment to reduce costs.
“This collaboration of two world-class companies will help deliver a more connected planet,” said Chris Hill, senior vice president of AT&T Advanced Solutions. “We share a vision that the ‘Internet of Things’ will help companies in a variety of industries rely on their remote assets and connected devices to take their business to the next level.”
Smarter Cities Infrastructure
IBM and AT&T figure city planners in connected cities will be able to leverage four key capabilities through this partnership: (1) better allocate and distribute resources based on information reported from incidents and service disruptions; (2) analyze the movement of people to improve 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; (3) identify inefficient traffic patterns so that traffic can be re-routed; better allocate public safety resources in places where majority of people congregate; and 4) monitor social media updates from citizens reporting bad weather or major traffic so the city can take the best course of action.
“Smarter cities, cars, homes, machines and consumer devices will drive the growth of the Internet of Things along with the infrastructure that goes with them, unleashing a wave of new possibilities for data gathering, predictive analytics, and automation,” said Rick Qualman, vice president of Strategy & Business Development, Telecom Industry at IBM. “The new collaboration with AT&T will offer insights from crowdsourcing, applications, sensors and analytics on the cloud, enabling all organizations to better listen, respond and predict.”
A Powerful Partnership
AT&T brings its M2M globally accessible network, devices, and Global Subscriber Identity Module to help connect assets worldwide to a single global network. These technologies are managed through AT&T’s M2M platforms to securely collect, organize, store and send the data to applications.
IBM brings the Intelligent Operations Center, Maximo Asset Management, its advanced analytics capabilities, and IBM MessageSight MQTT Appliance, which complements the IBM MobileFirst family of solutions. IBM MobileFirst provides the management, security and analytics capabilities needed for organizations to capitalize on the increasing role of mobile devices in the Internet of Things. The two companies will work together to build solutions at the AT&T M2M Foundry in Plano, Texas and IBM Global Solution Centers around the world.
We caught up with Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to get his take on the partnership. He told us in order to enable an Internet of Things solution, you need access to a robust network, intelligent sensors or endpoints, and a backend IT infrastructure capable of supporting complex, secure analytics.
“In this instance, AT&T is providing the first two elements and IBM is supplying the third. Interestingly, the combined solution appears fully capable of supporting classic Internet of Things sensor-based applications, like gathering and analyzing data from traffic cameras,” King said. “But it should also be capable of incorporating social media and other information provided by cellular subscribers, allowing granular analysis of local events. Overall, this looks like a powerful partnership that, if successful, will likely be extended by the companies or copied by others.”