Qualcomm hosts its first smart cities confab for 550 attendees

smart city
Qualcomm wants to create awareness about smart tech for cities. (Getty Images)

Qualcomm kicks off its first Smart Cities Accelerate two-day conference at its headquarters in San Diego on Tuesday with more than 500 attendees, including city officials, integrators and device manufacturers.

“We have brought together the entire ecosystem,” said Sanjeet Pandit, head of smart cities for Qualcomm, in an interview. “System integrators want to meet with cities because they write RFPs and need to buy devices like asset trackers and cameras, which run on our chips.”

After more than 20 years at Qualcomm, Pandit assumed his smart city role last year and led creation of the Qualcomm Smart Cities Accelerator Program, launched in April.

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The Accelerator “has already been a success” in helping integrators speed up projects and get people in the ecosystem talking to each other. But Pandit said it was essential to bring all the participants under one roof at the conference, which is free to all involved.

Qualcomm has been making chips that run in smart parking, smart lighting and other city systems for years. “We’ve been there in smart cities but we were camouflaged until recently,” he said. “Qualcomm is at the core of IoT and have been across multiple sectors and domains that people don’t even know. We want to create awareness and faster time to market…There’s been no silicon vendor that is pulling together all the players, including the chip manufacturers and the board manufacturers.”

Smart city deployments are happening in many cities globally, but usually for one vertical application, such as smart parking, instead of a massive city-wide overhaul, he added. Smart parking is usually defined as creating a system with sensors that knows when a parking space is empty and communicating that information wirelessly to a driver of a vehicle to help the driver find the space.

“If you are waiting for a massive RFP to build out an entire city in one shot, that’s not going to happen,” Pandit said. Smart cities are “built from bottom up” with a single vertical or a single project like a government building or an airport. “It’s like renovating a home room by room,” he said.

Sessions at the conference will discuss the importance of 5G for cities and robotics for security, cleaning and even robots to help cities in the care of special needs children.

There will be hundreds of one-to-one meetings that Qualcomm helped set up so that city leaders can meet integrators, for example.

A city Chief Information Officer panel will include CIOs from San Diego, and Carlsbad, California, along with the mayor of Seat Pleasant, Maryland and the smart city head for San Jose.

“We got more than 500 people on our first event, so we already feel it’s a resounding success,” Pandit said.

RELATED: City dilemma: Making smart tech work citywide with limited funds



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