Where Smart Cities and Utilities Overlap

The concept of Smart Cities offers the promise of urban hubs leveraging connected technologies to become increasingly prosperous, safe, healthy, resilient, and clean. What may not be obvious in achieving these objectives is that many already-existing utility assets can serve as the foundation for a Smart City transition. The following is a broad discussion on the areas of overlap between utilities and smart cities, highlighting working knowledge from experience at PG&E.

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The Limits of Data

When the idea of smart cities was born, some ten to fifteen years ago, engineers, including me, saw it primarily as a control system problem with the goal of improving efficiency, specifically the sustainability of the city. Indeed, the source of much of the early technology was the process industry, which was a pioneer in applying intelligent control to chemical plants, oil refineries, and power stations. Such plants superficially resemble cities: spatial scales from meters to kilometers, temporal scales from seconds to days, similar scales of energy and material inputs, and thousands of sensing and control points.

So it seemed quite natural to extend such sophisticated control systems to the management of cities. The ability to collect vast amounts of data – even in those pre-smart phone days – about what goes on in cities and to apply analytics to past, present, and future states of the city seemed to offer significant opportunities for improving efficiency and resilience. Moreover, unlike tightly-integrated process plants, cities seemed to decompose naturally into relatively independent sub-systems: transportation, building management, water supply, electricity supply, waste management, and so forth. Smart meters for electricity, gas, and water were being installed. GPS devices were being imbedded in vehicles and mobile telephones. Building controls were gaining intelligence. Cities were a major source for Big Data. With all this information available, what could go wrong?

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How Health Care Supports Sustainable Communities

If you want a healthier community, you don’t just treat illness. You prevent it. And you don’t prevent it by telling people to quit smoking, eat right and exercise. You help them find jobs and places to live and engaging schools so they can pass all that good on, so they can build solid futures and healthy neighborhoods and communities filled with hope.

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The City as an Instrument of Public Health

The concept of urban health is becoming an increasing concern as awareness of the true extent of the issue spreads. Particularly for health services in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), which are already struggling to cope with the burden of infectious diseases, the added pressure of NCDs poses a serious threat.

And yet, this does not need to be the case. There is positive work that can make an enormous difference to the health of city-dwellers. We need to close the gap between awareness and action, recognizing cities’ potential enabling features to address public health issues.

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When Smart Cities Become Digitally Insecure

When Smart Cities Become Digitally Insecure

This week, we’re featuring a three part article series from Meeting of the Minds co-founder, Gordon Feller, on cities and cybersecurity. This is the first article in the series.

We’re in the midst of an exciting revolution that’s changing virtually everything about the way we work and live in cities. What’s happening to us all has various names—the Gartner Group calls it “the Nexus of Forces”; IDC Research refers to as “the Third Platform”. Others refer to it as “the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution”. Whatever name you choose, this could be the mother of all big transitions, and what’s driving it is the stitching together of a wide range of many different kinds of technology-driven disruptions.

One thing is clear, and it’s starting to get widely noticed: this process, stimulated by the emergence of low-cost connected technologies, is transforming our experience of cities as we’ve known them.

Schools Save Millions with Solar + Storage

Schools Save Millions with Solar + Storage

The 125,000 public schools in the U.S., kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12), spend $8 billion annually on energy. School districts are installing energy efficiency, solar, and energy storage to reduce energy cost, freeing more money for better education. Schools...

Urban Innovator of the Week: Doria Robinson

Urban Innovator of the Week: Doria Robinson

This profile was originally published by Urban Innovation Exchange in partnership with Meeting of the Minds and Kresge Foundation. For more stories of people changing cities, visit UIXCities.com and follow @UIXCities. Doria Robinson is a third-generation resident of...

SCE Replaces Nukes and Gas with Renewables + Storage

SCE Replaces Nukes and Gas with Renewables + Storage

Southern California Edison (SCE) serves 15 million people in Southern California. SCE’s power generators and over 12,000 employees keep on the lights and charge 100,000 electric vehicles. SCE delivers reliable electricity in the face of enormous challenges. Two large...

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Urban Innovator of the Week: Steve Barlow

This profile was originally published by Urban Innovation Exchange in partnership with Meeting of the Minds and Kresge Foundation. For more stories of people changing cities, visit UIXCities.com and follow @UIXCities. Steve Barlow is a partner in Brewer & Barlow...

At the U.N., a breakthrough on Habitat III talks

By Greg Scruggs UNITED NATIONS — After 38 hours of non-stop negotiations, diplomats Saturday night delivered an agreement for a new global strategy on sustainable urbanization, called the New Urban Agenda. With the newfound consensus — which had been elusive, coming...

Urban Innovator of the Week: Gabriel Mandujano

This profile was originally published by Urban Innovation Exchange in partnership with Meeting of the Minds and Kresge Foundation. For more stories of people changing cities, visit UIXCities.com and follow @UIXCities. Gabriel Mandujano is the founder and CEO of Wash...

Urban Innovator of the Week: Adele London

This profile was originally published by Urban Innovation Exchange in partnership with Meeting of the Minds and Kresge Foundation. For more stories of people changing cities, visit UIXCities.com and follow @UIXCities. When Adele London was interviewed for the job at...

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