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Road To The Smart City

Once we understand where we and our technologies are on the adoption curve and understand that the asset in our firms are us and we invest in increasing our asset of the knowledge and skills of our people, we can start on our journey to change the world. Let’s start with our home town.

In his article, “The Road to the Smart City,”  Jim Sinopoli PE, LEED BD+C, RCCD Managing Principal, Smart Buildings LLC , observes that “starting point in transforming a city to a smart city is to look inward.”

He provides this wisdom:

A starting point in transforming a city to a smart city is to look inward. Take stock of your city. Develop a methodical approach to accomplish three things: (a) assess existing city processes and systems, (b) identify pain points and, more importantly, the root causes of those pain points, and (c) review current strategies and their alignment with current city goals and objectives.

An assessment will collect information that will result in identifying needed improvements in city infrastructure and systems; eventually making city services more efficient and effective. The assessment should provide the initial expected results of a system or program as well as the actual impact the program has on city residents. The initial systems for assessment should include: 

• A Smart Electric Grid – Cities need secured and adequate energy supplies; energy affects the environment of a city and the cost of living. An electric grid that can communicate with buildings and is built on a variety of energy sources is more stable and efficient.

• Water Distribution Systems – Water is our most precious resource so water conservation, waste water treatment, the use of efficient equipment and fixtures and real-time monitoring and managing of water is required for a smart city.

• Public Transportation and Traffic Systems – Traffic congestion and a lack of alternative transportation modes are a major negative to a city’s livability and its economy. Traffic may be the top thing most citizens grouse about in their city.  Intelligent traffic systems such as traffic signal control systems, license plate recognition, real-time data from other systems and predictive analytics can be effective in reducing travel times, but it’s important that the road system be supplemented by alternative modes of transportation: light rail, car sharing, buses, etc.  It is interesting that compact urban centers, such as Manhattan or many older European cities, rank high in public transit use, and many can go without owning cars.

• Public Safety – Safety is key to a working city, and involves multiple agencies and organizations, police, fire, emergency, courts, neighborhood groups and more. Important to these groups is data and intelligence, predictive data analytics, communications and “situational awareness”. Public safety personnel need tools such as cameras, laptops and tablets to gather and archive data. Analytics of that data can help in predict crime areas.

• Street Lights – Street lights are a subset of public safety, but are also involved with energy consumption. Efficient LED street lighting may minimize energy consumption as well as long term maintenance. Beyond just lighting, street lights are providing an infrastructure for sensors that can capture data on temperatures, ambient light, motion, carbon dioxide, rainfall, wind, humidity, ultraviolet light, etc.

• Digital Government Services – Many municipalities have deployed e-government services allowing citizens to conveniently interact with city government online or a smartphone app. These can save money for the city government as well as increase citizen satisfaction.

The goals or objectives of each program/system need to be broken down to specific statements, each with some type of measurement and key performance indicator so the city can determine whether the program or system objectives were achieved. Information gathered through the assessment process can be either qualitative or quantitative. Every system or program has multiple stakeholders who have an interest, as well as ideas and opinions in the assessment process.

Where do we and our facilities fit in our home town or city’s adoption curve?

Till next month.

Ken Sinclair is the founder, owner, and publisher of an online resource called AutomatedBuildings.com. He writes a monthly column for FacilitiesNet.com what is new in the Internet of Things (IOT) for building automation.


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posted on 7/8/2014