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Creating the city of the future today

(Image credit: Verizon)
Sean Harrington, VP of City Solutions, Verizon

By: Sean Harrington, Vice President 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, more and more cities are turning to the 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, relieve congestion, aid navigation of both vehicles and pedestrians, and reduce energy costs and consumption.


LED lights that use sensors to adapt to changing lighting levels can not only improve illumination but also save energy. Because it’s a network, an LED-based LSN can also support additional smart city capabilities, such as:


  • Smart video can 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—all while increasing public safety.
  • Real-time detection and alerting features can alert citizens to power failures or other municipal emergencies.
  • Beacons and other sensors can strengthen the local business community through targeted information about local businesses’ products and solutions.


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.


Smart connected technology helps city managers gather and analyze data on service efficiency and implement improvements based on their results, which saves time and money.


The advance of smart city technology relies on deployment of increasing number of sensors, resulting in growing amounts of data generated and consumed.  This increased data flow creates increased bandwidth needs on the communication networks. To address these challenges, cities will likely engage in more public-private partnerships, like the one recently announced between Verizon and the city of Sacramento, Calif., which realize the investment in greater networking infrastructure.


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. By working closely with leading technology vendors through public-private partnerships, smart cities of the future can improve their services, budget better, identify ways to share revenue and promote collaboration to better serve the community.


Sean Harrington is the Vice President of City Solutions at Verizon where he leads product management, engineering and operations. He joined Verizon through the acquisition of Sensity Systems, where he was the Chief Operating Officer. 

After earning a B.S. degree in engineering, Sean founded and ran a global adventure travel business, then earned an MBA at Stanford. Since then, he has spent the last 10 years in leadership roles at companies in the smart city, clean tech and internet of things sectors. 


At Verizon, our goal is to improve the quality of life for people living in cities around the world and increase the ways and efficiency in which cities operate. 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.