Blog: Meeting our first US partner

We have a new partner in the US – the town of Florence, Arizona! Read more about our partnership here.

Meet the town of Florence & Brent

Please let me introduce you to Brent Billingsley – Town Manager for the town Florence in Arizona USA. I met him in the Swedish pavilion at the Smart City Connect conference in Denver early this spring (2019) and became amazed over his engagement, energy and determination to create a smart city, in other ways than just procuring products and/or services the old fashion way.

Disrupting industry

He and his colleagues has taken on the challenge of bucking industry trends and develop a smart city in a way that is very different from a typical vender arrangement. Their “Open Architecture” model is specifically designed to be nonproprietary, by nature. They have along the way noticed that this does not sit well with typical smart metering partners and the industry as a whole. But believing this to be the way of the future they persisted and started to seek out partners that were willing to take a risk. Of course, they took every precaution possible to mitigate that risk, but risk still was existing for all parties.

Number one: Backbone partner

The first step was developing a relationship with a partner to design and manage the technology backbone. That Partner is Milandr, out of Highlands Ranch Colorado. Milandr is run by Edward Levin. Ed is a well-known international businessman that has spent his career in the technology arena, specifically communications. He founded Milandr in December of 2016. Milandr has standing international partnerships in Switzerland, Russia, Ukraine, and China. These partners assist with equipment, sensors, research and development, cloudbased software, and dashboards. Florence chose Milandr as a partner because large companies, have a lot of overhead, established solutions, proprietary technology, and established markets. Milandr provided system design, a propagation study, equipment acquisition and deployment, everything without costs to the Town of Florence. In doing so, Milandr is also providing below-market rates for its future services.

Number two: Network

The Town chose to use LoRaWAN technology for its solution. All the capital base station equipment has been manufactured by Tektelic Communications, Inc. which is a Canadian company located in Calgary, Alberta; Tektelic’s manufacturing facility is also located in Calgary. Tektelic equipment is carrier grade, arguably the best on the market today, ideally suited to support a smart water metering system as well as all smart city initiatives. Tektelic’s largest customer for their base stations is Comcast, who has already deployed thousands of Tektelic’s base stations.

Number three: Security

In addition, the Town brought on another partner to specifically handle the security aspect of our systems. That agreement is with SUBEX, a leading telecom analytics solutions provider. Founded in 1992, Subex has spent over 25 years in the telecom industry, they have over 300 installation in 90 plus countries. Subex provides end-to-end cybersecurity to detect, repel and remediate advanced threats to Florence’s most basic and vital technological systems. Through this partnership, the Town of Florence is leading the way by becoming one of the first cities to protect its public infrastructure through solutions, strategies, and measures provided by Subex. This partnership is a landmark one and will pave the way for other cities to adopt similar measures thereby ensuring the highest levels of protection for smart city projects across the United States.

Number four: Application

Most recently, Florence spent the last 12 months scoping and now bidding for our Advanced Metering Infrastructure System. That contract was awarded on May 20th.

Courage, commitment & collaboration

In my opinion, Brent and his colleagues has shown that real courage, commitment and advanced collaboration skills – all important qualifications for a smart city pioneer – can pay off really well in the end! It is rare that a public sector player manages to assemble such guts, unity and patience necessary for successfully challenging the smart city vendor process. These guys are real pioneers and we have a lot to learn from them. Brent has promised that he will share with us their journey from now and forward so that we can learn and benefit from their experiences and, perhaps, also support them during the process. I am so grateful to have met him and thankful that he is sharing the Smart City Journey of Florence so generously.

–Petra Dalunde, Chief Operating Officer, Urban ICT Arena

Article written by Petra Dalunde