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Ideas you can use: Chicago's "Array of Things" project

Submitted by scc staff on July 19, 2016

Installing sensors to monitor air quality, traffic, public safety and other aspects of city life isn't a new idea. But Chicago's Array of Things project is different in ways that may give you ideas for your own city. 

First, the AoT is more than just a sensor or two. It is a collection of sensors all jammed into a single container -- virtually everything you'd want to know to judge the health and "fitness" of a city (see illustration at the AoT website). Second, the data will be housed at Argonne National Laboratory and made available for anyone. Third, the team behind the concept has already agreed to help several other cities experiment with their own AoT deployments.

The news release below reports the exciting news that Council Lead Partner AT&T will provide the connectivity. And a broad group of companies is providing technical advice, including Council Lead Partners Cisco, Microsoft and Schneider Electric and Associate Partner Intel. 

With this kind of expertise, this kind of simple cellular connectivity and this kind of leadership from a national laboratory, the Array of Things is an idea many cities could and should study for their own use. — Jesse Berst

AT&T to Provide Network Connectivity to the Array of Things Project

The AoT project is designed to gather critical data about a city’s environment and infrastructure to ultimately help make that city more livable and more efficient.

Beginning with Chicago, the AoT plans to install hundreds of sensor-based nodes in the city to measure factors related to air quality, noise, climate, and traffic congestion. The data collected from the sensors will be transmitted in a highly secure manner over the AT&T wireless network to a central database server at the Argonne National Laboratory, where it will be processed and released openly to the public. Researchers, city services, and technology developers will be able to use the data to address energy efficiency, traffic safety, urban flooding, air pollution, and many more urban challenges.

“A project of this scale requires sophisticated data management to fulfill our commitment to provide accurate and open data for the community,” said project lead Charlie Catlett, director of the Urban Center for Computation and Data. “AT&T is an innovator and leader in IoT and smart cities, and we’re grateful they’re helping enable this ambitious endeavor.

“AT&T recognizes the critical role data plays in the value of deploying smart cities solutions, and we’re pleased Array of Things trusts our network to help move their project forward,” said Mike Zeto, General Manager and Executive Director, AT&T Smart Cities. “As an industry leader in smart cities, we’re excited that Chicago and other cities with Array of Things sensors will be able to use this data to gain deeper insights into the needs of their city and citizens so they can ultimately make more informed decisions, drive efficiencies and deliver a higher quality living experience to their citizens.”

“We’re interested in monitoring the city’s environment and activity, not individuals, which is why we have built privacy protection into the design of the sensors and our operating policies,” added Catlett.

AoT will begin installing sensor nodes in Chicago this summer, with a total of 500 nodes active in Chicago by the end of 2018.

For more information on Array of Things, visit and follow @arrayofthings on Twitter.  Visit for information on Array of Things privacy policy.

Smart Cities Readiness Guide...
The Readiness Guide chapter on the built environment offers a wealth of insights and recommendations for ways to make your city a livable, workable and sustainable place for your citizens.

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