Verizon buys IoT startup Sensity to boost smart city portfolio

Sensity's platform embeds networking technology within both new and retrofit LED lighting systems.

Verizon on Monday announced plans to acquire Sensity Systems, a Cisco-backed startup that makes connected light installations for smart cities. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Based in Sunnyvale, California, Sensity designed a platform that embeds networking technology within both new and retrofit LED lighting systems.

Once outfitted with Sensity's sensors, cameras, and thermometers, these "smart" light fixtures can provide insights into what's happening below, potentially helping monitor things like public safety, parking, pedestrian traffic, and severe weather events. Sensity claims to have 42 smart city light installations across the globe.

Verizon said it plans to add Sensity to its ThingSpace business, which launched last year as the cornerstone of its IoT strategy. Similar to other IoT cloud platforms from IBM and Amazon Web Services, the ThingSpace platform gives developers end-to-end management of their IoT environments and related data.

"Sensity is a leading provider of IoT solutions for smart communities with a strong ecosystem of partners, and this transaction will accelerate the deployment of large-scale implementations that will drive the digital transformation of cities, universities and venues," said Mike Lanman, SVP of enterprise products and IoT at Verizon, in a statement. "Verizon is uniquely positioned through its infrastructure investments at the network, platform and application levels to provide holistic solutions that empower communities to address their most pervasive challenges."

The acquisition is a follow up to a couple of previous purchases under Verizon's IoT umbrella. Last month, Verizon bought telematics tech provider Fleetmatics for $2.4 billion in cash. Before that, Verizon paid an undisclosed amount for Telogis, another maker of telematics technology.

Both deals were seen as part of Verizon's plan to broaden its portfolio beyond basic communication services and into the area of enterprise mobility.

The deals also show Verizon is thinking about revenue growth for the long term. Verizon's core legacy business is declining, but the company is building up in other areas where it can use its massive network for enterprise logistics, mobility, and IoT.

Of course, Verizon also just bought Yahoo's core internet business for $4.83 billion, giving the company significant revenue potential in the area of mobile advertising. Just over a year ago, Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion in a similar ad-revenue play.

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