Qualcomm’s IoT Services Suite includes a traffic management platform that cities can use to optimize signals, manage congestion and track accidents.
Image: Qualcomm

Instead of a “here’s my chip” approach to the IoT market, Qualcomm is playing matchmaker and building an ecosystem of customers, vendors and systems integrators. The company’s third annual Smart Cities Accelerator event connects cities, municipalities, government agencies, and enterprises with smart city tech providers.

Sanjeet Pandit, senior director and global head of smart cities at Qualcomm, launched the program in 2019. The event was all virtual in 2020 and this year almost 1,000 people have registered for an in-person event held Tuesday, Sept. 28 and Wednesday, Sept. 29.

Sanjit said that Qualcomm has digitized many spaces because of the company’s unique “chip to cloud” approach to smart cities and IoT work.

“This is not a ‘Here’s my chip’ approach to IoT, it’s a smart solution in a box,” he said. “We also have partnered with a financing organization to help with that too.”

Pandit said his team started the smart city work with the mindset of an R&D company but learned early on to revise the product to fit the reality of small city IT departments.

“We realized we had to get to a drag and drop deployment where a basic IT operator can work the system,” he said.

The company announced new features in its IoT Services Suite at the event. The collection of software, hardware, consulting services and financing covers many verticals, including education, logistics, healthcare, transportation, inspection, energy and agriculture. Qualcomm’s IoT Services Suite includes:

  • Drag and drop deployment with low code development
  • Automated device onboarding and management
  • Streamlined device configuration and customizable user-interface
  • Integrated standard operating procedures workflow
  • Edge-AI and cloud integration enabling scalability and efficiency

Pandit said that the inspiration for the Accelerator was his detective work to determine the source of a particular security camera on the Qualcomm campus. He traced the origin of the camera back to a factory in China and realized along the way how fragmented the IoT market is.

He also saw the need to understand how the ecosystem works, including the flow (or lack of) investment.

“The objective was not to deploy technology but to deploy technology to support a particular use case,” he said. “The industry needed glue to stick it all together.”

SEE: Investment fund and outcomes-as-a-service firm help cities build smart infrastructure despite tight budgets

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, chairman and CEO of JLC MJE-Loop Capital Partners, is the keynote speaker at the event. JLC Infrastructure is an investor and asset management firm focused on the transportation, communications, energy, utilities and social infrastructure sectors in the U.S. The investment team has expertise in public-private partnerships and energy infrastructure buyside origination, execution and asset management. Many smart cities projects are funded via public-private partnerships.

Qualcomm announced the IoT services suite and the accelerator in December with two members. Now there are 400 members and products and services for more than 40 verticals.

Specialized services in the platform include:

  • Inspection-as-a-Service: The ability to detect incidents on construction sites and deploy rooftop inspection, safety and security missions as a first responder, provide emergency response and support for natural disasters.
  • Smart Asset Management as-a-Service: Specialized solutions for supply chain visibility such as improved tracking, compliance and efficiency.
  • Traffic Management as-a-Service: A traffic management system to plan, control and adapt the flow of traffic on city streets, optimize traffic signals and provide event and emergency notifications.
  • Smart Venues as-a-Service: A lidar-based safety and security system to monitor crowds and capacity.

Pandit said that using lidar to monitor public spaces allows facility managers to track wait times, restrooms and overall occupancy without facial recognition.

Pandit said that cities have historically spent infrastructure money on more tangible improvements like sidewalks and parks. During the pandemic, the need for connectivity shifted the focus to less visible services.

“Sometimes technology is more tangible when you don’t have it,” he said. “I think cities were taken aback as to how much they needed to do to bridge the digital divide.”

Qualcomm also announced at the event that Booz Allen Hamilton has joined the program as a systems integrator. Chris Christou, a vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton and a leader in the company’s 5G and secure cloud practice, said the company can integrate comprehensive 5G solutions and services to enable smart connectivity and integration in the public sector.