Midtown set to host two big mobility conferences

Amy Wenk and Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on September 19, 2014

As Atlanta vies to be among the world’s most sophisticated wireless cities, Midtown is emerging as the city’s hub for mobile innovation.

It’s already home to Georgia Tech and its incubator Atlanta Technology Development Center, a vibrant startup community and AT&T Inc.’s Mobile and Business Solutions unit.

But now, Midtown is about to host two major mobile technology events: GSMA Mobile 360 Series-North America, a new event for the mobile industry, is set for Sept. 22-23 in Midtown. It will be held in conjunction with Atlanta’s second annual Mobility Live! summit, set for Sept. 23-24.

Midtown’s also where cutting-edge mobile applications are being developed that aim to enhance community experiences, putting more power in the pockets of Midtown residents and visitors.

During Mobility Live, a new initiative called Mobile Midtown will be introduced. The Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Mobility Task Force is spearheading the effort. Digital agency Razorfish, which has an Atlanta office, is leading development of technology including a free app, which could roll out in the fourth quarter, that’s aimed at enhancing a person’s experience in Midtown.

For example, the app could offer its users help finding parking spaces or the neighborhood’s best restaurants. As people stroll around Midtown, they might be pinged with safety alerts or coupons for nearby shops.

“We are trying to add value for people in their everyday journey,” said Michael Zeto, an executive with AT&T Mobility who is a co-chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Mobility Task Force.

The thought is Midtown, one of the city’s most dense areas, will serve as a test ground for the app and later it would be expanded to other areas, potentially creating a “mobile mile” that stretches from the airport to Alpharetta.

“It seems like we are on the cusp of a pretty big revolution here,” said Kevin Green, president and CEO of the Midtown Alliance, which is supplying data to the chamber for Mobile Midtown. “It’s not about devices and technology; it’s about how we use them to enhance our lives.”

The Midtown Alliance also has joined with Georgia Tech to develop a new platform called Midtown Buzz, which just launched a beta version. It aims to provide users with insider info. “Midtown Buzz will enable the community to give input on what they think is interesting about Midtown,” said Shannon Powell, Midtown Alliance’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “It’s a virtual community-building exercise.”

Atlanta is positioning itself to be a leader in mobile innovation and earlier this year bid to be the first city in North America named a “Global Smart City for Mobility” by GSMA.

“The vision is to be the spot where the most mobile people live, work, play and visit,” Zeto said.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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