How Does a Smart City Happen?
[colored_box bgColor=”#ededed” textColor=”#333333″]
Webinar with blog post author Charbel Aoun
Watch the archive recording of our 1-hour webinar with Charbel Aoun titled, Making Smart Cities a Reality — Today.[/colored_box]
Cities are not about technology – yet technology can clearly help cities become better places to live, work and play. Technology improves urban efficiency, quality of urban life, as well as the economic, social and environmental attractiveness that makes cities prosper.
Citizens may not care about technology – but they do care about the reliability of the infrastructures they use every day; about the savings they can make by being more resource-efficient in how they use them; about the quality and availability of the public services that are provided to them by the city – all of which can be improved by technology.
This is why we believe that technology is a key enabler of a smart city – but it is by no means the only one. Collaboration is also critical – business, working closely with city leaders and communities, collaborating across domains of expertise, can help deliver the most value to people in the cities. Collaboration fosters genuine interaction among society, accelerates exchange and transfer of knowledge and delivers higher return on investment for all stakeholders.
Schneider Electric has implemented more than 200 smart city projects around the globe. Schneider Electric brings world-class expertise and many years of experience in helping cities move toward long-term sustainability goals by improving the efficiency of their existing infrastructure.
The Schneider Electric bottom-up, system-oriented approach encompasses five steps to a smart city:
- Setting the vision and roadmap for an efficient, livable, and sustainable city
- Combining best-in-class hardware and software to improve operating systems
- Bringing in integration for wider city operational and informational efficiency
- Adding innovation to make a holistic and sustainable future a reality
- Driving collaboration between the most well-suited global and local players, as well as across the entire smart city value chain
Using this approach, cities can realize a host of benefits. They can see up to 30 per cent energy savings. Up to 20 per cent reduction in water losses is possible. Up to 30 per cent reduction in street crime from CCTV security cameras can be delivered. Travel time and traffic delays can be reduced by up to 20 per cent. Other major non- environmental benefits include improved safety and higher quality of life, which in turn drives job creation and increases the talent pool, leading to higher tax revenue.
Cities have dramatically varying geographies, populations, natural resources, and individually unique pain points. So a smart city vision must be tailored to the unique needs, challenges, opportunities and resources of each city.
There are several triggers that can set cities on the path to becoming smart. A city may become host to a demonstration project, in which one or a few companies test their most innovative solutions. An example of this is the implementation of smart grid-ready district in Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris, France.
Or, a city could host a major international event, such as the Olympics or the World Cup. When a city is selected as the host for such an event, it often does so with the intent to use the event as a trigger for investment in new infrastructure, to regenerate some of its aging and/or underserved districts, as well as improve its aesthetic appeal and bring the eyes of the world — all at the same time.
The most available path to a smart city, however, is when a community takes it upon itself to define its sustainability vision and then lays out the roadmap needed to get there. Making sure this vision and path are well thought-out is one of the most critical tasks in the process, and most cities need support to develop their roadmap to becoming smart.
With a vision in place, city officials should start by improving existing operating systems, such as electricity, water, transportation, and gas. A combination of connected hardware, software, and metering then facilitates integration and collaboration between systems and networks. This allows a city to create a critical mass of relevant, meaningful data that enables the continuous improvement of the systems themselves.
But integration does more than just improve operations. Connecting systems, when relevant to the city’s people, delivers a tremendous volume of information which can be analyzed by intelligent software systems. This data analysis will allow cities to develop actionable information that can be used to deliver better, more effective and efficient public services.
Finally, communities must involve all of their key stakeholders, government officials, citizens, and the private sector, in the process — or face tremendously difficult obstacles in turning their vision into reality. No single company or organization can build a smart city alone. Each city deserves the best in class players on both a local and global level — from the technologies installed, to the operation and maintenance.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Accenture analysts recently released a report calling for cities to take the lead in creating coordinated, “orchestrated” mobility ecosystems. Limiting shared services to routes that connect people with mass transit would be one way to deploy human-driven services now and to prepare for driverless service in the future. Services and schedules can be linked at the backend, and operators can, for example, automatically send more shared vehicles to a train station when the train has more passengers than usual, or tell the shared vehicles to wait for a train that is running late.
Managing urban congestion and mobility comes down to the matter of managing space. Cities are characterized by defined and restricted residential, commercial, and transportation spaces. Private autos are the most inefficient use of transportation space, and mass transit represents the most efficient use of transportation space. Getting more people out of private cars, and into shared feeder routes to and from mass transit modes is the most promising way to reduce auto traffic. Computer models show that it can be done, and we don’t need autonomous vehicles to realize the benefits of shared mobility.
The role of government, and the planning community, is perhaps to facilitate these kinds of partnerships and make it easier for serendipity to occur. While many cities mandate a portion of the development budget toward art, this will not necessarily result in an ongoing benefit to the arts community as in most cases the budget is used for public art projects versus creating opportunities for cultural programming.
Rather than relying solely on this mandate, planners might want to consider educating developers with examples and case studies about the myriad ways that artists can participate in the development process. Likewise, outreach and education for the arts community about what role they can play in projects may stimulate a dialogue that can yield great results. In this sense, the planning community can be an invaluable translator in helping all parties to discover a richer, more inspiring, common language.
While the outlook for the environment may often seem bleak, there are many proven methods already available for cities to make their energy systems and other infrastructure not only more sustainable, but cheaper and more resilient at the same time. This confluence of benefits will drive investments in clean, efficient energy, transportation, and water infrastructure that will enable cities to realize their sustainability goals.
Given that many of the policy mechanisms that impact cities’ ability to boost sustainability are implemented at the state or federal level, municipalities should look to their own operations to implement change. Cities can lead as a major market player, for example, by converting their own fleets to zero emission electric vehicles, investing in more robust and efficient water facilities, procuring clean power, and requiring municipal buildings to be LEED certified.