AT&T announces ‘smart base’ initiative with US Air Force
AT&T announces ‘smart base’ initiative with US Air Force
An aircraft comes in to land at Maxwell AFB.

AT&T announces ‘smart base’ initiative with US Air Force

AT&T has announced it is working with the US Air Force (USAF) on an IoT-driven ‘smart base’ initiative at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.

The US telco says it is installing network-connected sensors into the “everyday operations” of the base – to create smart perimeters, gate monitoring, fleet management and more.

Maxwell Air Force Base (AFB) has a long history: it was originally the home of one of the world’s earliest flying schools, established in 1910 by aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Today, it’s where Air University, a major component of USAF’s Air Education and Training Command, is based, along with a minimum security men’s prison and schools, hospitals and other facilities that serve a population of around 2,500 people, including military families, civilians and contractors.

Read more: US Army is using IoT technology and data to transform warfare

Smart city parallels

The scope of activities that make up daily life at Maxwell AFB means that it shares many of the same IoT goals as smart cities, but with a greater emphasis on security. “We face a lot of the same challenges municipalities face,” said Colonel Don Lewis, 42d mission support group commander at Maxwell AFB.  

“We’re excited about opportunities to explore ways to enhance our operations, conserve limited resources, and stimulate new ideas to more creatively execute our missions through the power of IoT and network connected sensors.”

Read more: DARPA wants to militarise the IoT

USAF’s IoT mission

This is the third in a string of recent announcements from USAF regarding its IoT ambitions. In March, its leadership announced other smart base initiatives at its Los Angeles and Tinker bases in California and Oklahoma, respectively. Both of these deals are with Honeywell.

At Los Angeles AFB, Honeywell has announced it is working on an $11 million modernization project that includes efficiency upgrades and renewable energy measures that will help cut energy use by around 17 percent and generate an estimated average of $800,000 in annual energy savings over the 23-year project.

At Tinker AFB, USAF and Honeywell are working on a $243 million facility modernization project expected to reduce energy consumption by 23 percent and save the base $20.5 million in energy and operational costs each year. This is said by the partners to be the largest energy savings performance contract ever awarded by USAF.

Not to be outdone, the US Army’s Army Research Lab has launched a $52 million initiative to create what it’s calling the Internet of Battlefield Things, with the goal of connecting everything a soldier wears and uses – from helmets and night-vision goggles to robotic tanks and drones – to the military’s vast digital communications networks.