Solution Providers Applaud Government's $65M Investment In Smart City Technology

The U.S. Department of Transportation Thursday said it would invest $65 million in programs funding smart city technologies, aimed at easing traffic congestion and creating new mobility services.

Solution providers such as Robby Hill, CEO and founder of Florence, S.C.-based HillSouth, are cheering the investment, as it creates a stepping stone to get started on IoT solutions with government customers.

’I like the idea. … I think the play is for solution providers to leverage what they’re already doing with cities or county governments, and then repackage that with a smarter answer to the problem,’ Hill said. ’I think the challenge for VARs in government solutions is chasing new projects because new funding is hard to come by.’

[Related: Dell Adds Systems Integrators To Its IoT Solutions Partner Program]

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The grants will fund 19 technology-driven projects to fight traffic congestion and increase connectivity in cities. In total, these projects will bring about $170 million in public and private investments to deploy smart city technology, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Hill works with local governments to design and implement wireless meter reading as a utility, as well as deploying legally-required body cameras in various police forces across the state.

These deployments lead to services opportunities for HillSouth, including backup management and day-to-day data maintenance and storage. As smart cities become implemented across the country, Hill said, these opportunities for solution providers will only expand.

’The biggest challenge for customers with IoT is that it means an onslaught of data that needs to be managed, indexed and used for business decisions,’ said Hill. ’They need to bring in extra help to manage that data … and in terms of backup recovery planning, these are services that we VARs are the best suited for.’

Stephen Monteros, vice president of business development and strategic initiatives at Ontario, Calif.-based solution provider Sigmanet, applauded the grants as helpful in IoT smart city initiatives such as one his company is embarking on. Sigmanet has been working over the past 18 months to plan and deploy a people-tracking solution along parts of the 21-mile Pacific Electric Trail in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

The solution, which uses cameras to track people on the trail, will help city officials set up a dual surveillance system that enables the city to accurately measure the number of trail users and analyze that data for transportation and safety applications.

Organizations are rapidly investing in smart cities, according to market research firm IDC. Global spending on smart city and IoT technology will rise to $1.7 trillion in 2020, IDC reports.

"From automated vehicles to connected infrastructure to data analytics, technology is transforming how we move around our country, and some of the most exciting innovation is happening at the local level," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. ’These grants will enable cities and rural communities to harness new technologies to tackle hard problems like reducing congestion, connecting people to mass transit and enhancing safety.’