Israel’s Bezeq is the latest telecoms company to springboard into the smart city arena off their own internet infrastructure.
Fortune says the country’s largest telecommunications company has earmarked millions of dollars for smart city investments.
Among Bezeq’s earliest ventures is its pilot program in the city of Modi’in, in between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Hundreds of sensors along with free internet hotspots and cameras have been connected as part of the program. The connected devices, which are mostly in a large park, allow the city to track noise, parking, safety in the area as well as monitor water quality in a man-made lake. The pilot project is being tracked to determine what Modi’in’s needs are for the smart city infrastructure to be effective, and will be used to extrapolate how to roll out other smart city ventures across Israel.
Such smart city projects could eventually encompass such internet technology that optimizes trash collection, street lights, parking availability and air pollution monitoring.
Bezeq in good telco company
Bezeq joins a host of other worldwide telcos who have made major shifts into the smart city arena by platforming off their own internet infrastructure. These include Vodafone, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Telefonica.
“We are looking at being more than a simple telco company,” said Bezeq CEO Stella Handler. However, she adds that the company doesn’t expect an immediate return on its smart city investments, but is part of a long-term strategic shift.
“I see revenues coming 10 years from now,” said Handler.
Bezeq has partnered with several Israeli startups in its smart city pivot. It says its work with these firms at the cutting edge of smart city technology enables cities to save money through efficiencies. These savings can then be targeted at improving such areas as education and health.
With 70% of global population residing in cities, Bezeq says the increasing urbanization trend is ultimately driving such smart city ventures.
However, this comes amid reports indicating that, despite increased global smart city revenues and more people moving to big cities, few large-scale smart city projects are addressing core urban problems.