I was at a meeting the other day and we were getting really worked up about how fickle words can be.  The particular word in question was “sustainability.”  As often happens with words like “sustainability,” it’s getting worn out and losing its meaning.  So we try other words like “resiliency” or “efficiency” or “citizenship.”  Then we go back to “sustainability” for a while.  I still like the Brundtland definition – “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” But that’s a big message to ask a single word to deliver. 

A similar thing is happening with “Smart Cities.”  The term shows up all over the place, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to pin down what it means.  Efficient and reliable electricity and water utilities? Enhanced transportation options? Improved access to critical community services?  Quicker response time?  All of the above? However you choose to think about how cities need to evolve, communications will be a fundamental enabler of higher-efficiency processes. That’s why AT&T is joining the Smart Cities Council to help develop the tools and resources needed for the transformation.

We’re going to contribute to the effort by focusing on the things we do best: mobile connectivity, robust application platforms, and innovative problem-solving.  My colleague, Reed Pangborn, talks about how AT&T can help in this interview. There are already some great resources on the website, and we’re excited to collaborate with the municipalities to build even more momentum in this space.

One of the first things the council is working on is a readiness guide that will help cities chart a course. This will provide an opportunity for AT&T and other businesses to engage with cities to implement this plan.

How do you define a Smart City?  And how does communications technology help make that possible?