AT&T spotlights Covid-19 impact on smart city plans


Assistant VP of Public Sector AT&T

INTERVIEW: AT&T assistant VP of public sector Matt Walsh (pictured) highlighted how Covid-19 (coronavirus) changed smart city priorities, with many shifting focus from infrastructure management and maintenance, to social and health-oriented applications.

The US operator executive told Mobile World Live cities are particularly interested in use cases which can help provide internet connectivity to schoolchildren who may not have access at home, to help bridge what is known as the homework gap. Cities are also exploring applications which can be used to ensure safe interactions in public spaces, he added.

As an example, Walsh pointed to a video surveillance system used by the Southern Nevada Transportation Commission which screens individuals entering one of its facilities for fever, a key Covid-19 symptom.

Walsh said the usefulness of many such applications can extend beyond Covid-19: “They’re not just beneficial during the pandemic, they’re scalable and capable of providing other benefits to the city”, including helping monitor building capacity, queuing at transport hubs, or detecting suspicious objects.

“I think it just creates kind of an entry point to them to expand into different use cases.”

Walsh also discussed trends in financing for smart city deployments, noting budget constraints can be a hurdle for some.