Smart Cities in Action

The world’s first total-concept smart grid deployment project, PowerMatching City, has been placed on the Sustainia 100list of solutions. Sustainia 100 describes itself as “More than a model and a vision, Sustainia aims to be the world’s one-stop toolbox for sustainable solutions.”

PowerMatching City, The Netherlands, is the first real-life smart grid community in the world which delivers the world’s first results from a total concept smart grid deployment project.

The city currently involves 25 households connected with each other and fitted with fully functioning micro combined heat and power systems (CHP). Systems in place include high efficiency boilers, hybrid pumps, smart meters, PV panels, electric vehicle charging stations and other smart household appliances which when combined together make up the smart energy system.

“With the share of renewable energy going up strongly over the next decades, the rising demand for electricity, and consumers who are increasingly providing their own energy supply, it is evident that smart grids will have an essential position in our future energy system. PowerMatching City plays a pioneering role in the development of smart grids and in the transition towards a sustainable energy system,” said Frits Bliek, Program Coordinator, PowerMatching City.

It is hoped that the grid will continue to grow, with the next phase set to include a further 70 homes. Follow the link below for the video!

PowerMatching City (www.PowerMatchingCity.nl)

 

 

Smart Cities need Smart Thinkers

It has been argued that a smart city is one which uses a network of sensors to bring information for analysis, with the end result of increased effectiveness of the management of a variety of systems. However, this alone will not solve all of the problems a city faces, for example, ensuring citizens health, security, and wellbeing. Many cities also face difficulties in terms of finance and sustainability. It will take more than just some sensors to revolutionise city living, although they are certainly a necessary aspect.

Over 50% of the world’s population resides in cities today, accounting for 75% of global energy consumption and produce 70% of greenhouse gases. They are all facing challenges through their changing demographics, pollution, overloaded physical and social infrastructure, traffic, crime and the scarcity of resources such as water and energy. However, cities cannot simply focus on fixing these problems as they are also struggling to compete with each other for talent, jobs and investment. They must also reduce their operating costs and manage existing debt.

The key to the Smart City venture lies in the increased efficiency of current systems, and through the creation of new ones which enable citizen to interact digitally with their environment. Robin Daniels of Living PlanIT said: “Being smart is about deploying intelligence to enhance value.”

Living PlanIT have provided several demonstrations which showcased the ways in which technology can enhance every aspect of life. In one such display, it was explained how the fire service could maximise the pressure of water, unlock building doors and check in on peoples location.

One IBM study in collaboration with Streetline and Citibank discovered that 50% of L.A traffic was due to people attempting to find parking spaces. This number could be reduced, and thus the carbon emissions and the rate of oil consumption, by the use of a smart parking app which enables people to locate free parking spaces and book them prior to leaving home.

However, Paolo Stark, the Chief Executive of Siemens Brazil, raised the point that while smart cities are providing a step forward, the more important issue is analysing the direct and indirect benefits of these actions. He suggests that a Smart City is an absolute term, a complete project, whereas the journey to becoming a Smarter City is an ongoing process. Smarter Cities look at the strategic benefits of investment from attracting inhabitant and industry from cleaner water, effective transportation and better healthcare – one where a sustainable transformation is taking place.

Can the UK offer a clean, secure and affordable power sector?

The UK Government has a plan to save energy in homes by overhauling the electricity market.  But they are warned that this overhaul will not ensure the UK has a secure, clean and affordable power sector. If they overhaul energy provision, they will probably want to reform the market. This will bring in long-term contracts that pay a steady rate of return for energy from new low-carbon generators. But this is needed to deliver the billions of pounds of investment needed for energy infrastructure to keep the lights on.

The upfront costs of energy efficiency measures for homes can be covered by a ‘green deal’ that has been brought in. This also includes companies providing energy-saving measures for poor households.

But some consumer, industry and environmental organizations like the University of Exeter, energy giant SSE, Consumer Focus and environmental charity WWF issued a warning that the measures were inadequate. They said that government policies will not deliver the large energy savings that are needed to cut greenhouse emissions and secure that UK’s suppliers are secure.

They said that developing low carbon power and energy efficiency measures would hit consumers, and in particular the people on a low income. The renewable energy sector in the UK would not have the certainty it needs to deliver investments and jobs in the UK with the plans that the government has now.  They said one of the main efforts of the government should be to try and make energy more affordable for everyone.

Energy efficient measures should be funded by the revenues raised through carbon floor prices. So energy companies have to pay a minimum price for the credits they have purchased to cover their pollution.

So it was needed for the long-term contract for low-carbon electricity to be reviewed. They have to make sure that the contracts are suitable for renewable energy, as the scheme has been primarily designed to support new nuclear reactors.

Nick Molho, of WWF-UK, said that everyone is coming at this from different perspectives, but everyone wants the UK to succeed in developing a clean, secure and affordable power sector. They are deeply concerned that Government proposals now are just not up to the job.

Connected Liverpool at Ovum Smart Cities Europe Conference 2012

Connected Liverpool was proud to contribute to the Ovum Smart Cities Europe Conference 2012 which was held in London last week. Jordy van Kuijk of our Innovation Lead, Connected Liverpool, spoke at a panel discussion about “Who Invests and Who Benefits from New Digital City Services?” under the umbrella of creating New Business Opportunities in Digital Cities within the Smart City industry.

The panel discussion was led by Don Strickland, President and CEO at Strickland & Associates and former President & CEO at iPIX, former Vice President at Apple Computer and former Vice President at Eastman Kodak. Besides Don Strickland, the following panelists joined the panel discussion:

  • Gianni Carbonaro, Head of the Municipal and Regional Unit, European Investment Bank
  • Allan Mayo, Head, Business Services Policy Unit, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Kai Hendry, Managing Director at Webconverger
  • Jordy van Kuijk, Innovation Lead, Connected Liverpool

Each panelist was given the opportunity to introduce himself and highlight his interest in the Smart City industry to continue the discussion around the main topic of Who Invests and Who Benefits from New Digital City Services?. We have asked Jordy to comment shortly on his experience within the panel.

“It was interesting to be on a panel with such inspiring figures that speak the same language and have aligned objectives to empower citizens and businesses to make use of the many commercial opportunities that the Smart City industry has to offer.

I was asked to share my vision on how technology can lead to new business opportunities within the digital city framework and specifically clarified the opportunities that are provided to us through mobile technology. Currently, with a world population of 7 billion, there are 5.9 billion mobile phones worldwide compared to the 2 billion internet users, the 1.2 billion personal computers and the 1.7 billion televisions. 16% of those 5.9 billion mobile phones are smartphones, which is predicted to grow to 1 billion smartphones by 2013. On average, people look at their phone 150 times a day (every 6 minutes) and even though not everyone can afford a smartphone, it is expected that the average price will decline from $600 (2011) to $10 dollar in 2020 as production costs will decline drastically.

Currently, 11% of the Americans are already using their smartphone to make their payments through mobile banking and contemporary technology such as NFC, RFID and Augmented Reality are given new dimensions all over the world. Through this, more and more businesses will be stimulated to start operating in this mobile technology space to develop smart applications/ mobile software that can increase people’s quality of life and assist them in their daily activities. The NFC reader that allows people in Stockholm to check-into their hotel rooms without any human contact and allows students at the Arizona State University to enter their dorms and rooms is an example of such a smart application enabled by mobile technology. This opened up a completely new market which will experience significant grow in the upcoming years providing SME’s with plenty of commercial opportunities. As this smart mobile technology will also be taxable, it also opens up a new income stream for the government. It is an exciting space to be in and I would advise any mobile technology entrepreneur to get involved”

One of the topics that was raised by the audience was the difficulty for entrepreneurs to acquire public capital to develop IT prototypes and market their innovative products and services. Entrepreneurs seem to struggle to finding public funding and even though the TSB and other public bodies are offering opportunities for funding, this is often poorly communicated with entrepreneurs.

Moreover, the aspect of ‘Trust’ was emphasized. As we are shifting towards a new era of opening up data and making government data more transparent, citizens are worrying about their privacy. Making public data available will create an important resource for SME’s as it will motivate them to make use of this data for commercial purposes. Nevertheless, clear standards of data usage will have to be established to ensure people’s privacy is guaranteed.

Overall, we were proud to be part of this exciting conference which was perfectly aligned with our own vision within Connected Liverpool. We’ll keep you posted about any new developments that will help us to build a smarter Liverpool City Region!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future Cities Demonstrator competition

Local authorities of urban areas with a population of at least 125,000 in the UK can enter the Future Cities Demonstrator competition. This is a design competition to hunt for ideas for “future cities”. The UK government launched this competition worth £24 million and it’s funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). The aim is to improve the overall quality of life for people living in the city. And they want to do this with unique and functional methods of integrating city systems in an environmentally-sound and economical way. So, this calls for large-scale designs.

There are lots of things that local authorities should consider when they think about these future cities. Transport, communication and waste management are just a handful of the systems that have to be put in a proposal for the future city.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive at TSB, said that in the future, efficient, attractive and resilient cities need to be delivered. So there will be a large market for innovative approaches. TSB is well positioned to exploit the growing market since they have world-leading companies in areas such as project management, engineering, architecture, energy and transport systems, communications and the digital economy.

When local authorities enter the competition, they can win one of the 20 grants of £50,000. These grants can be used to further demonstrate and develop the ideas they entered. And one of these twenty grants is a £24 million award for the final proposal.

The government hopes that the programme will give multinationals and homegrown SME’s an incentive to work together with cities and to start debates to create more efficient and integrated systems and products. The debate is already going on, with University College London, Imperial College and Cisco announcing in 2011 that they would open a Future Cities Centre in east London’s Tech City. And TSB  also announced earlier this year that they will launch the Future Cities Catapult, a technology research centre focusing on innovative city planning and supporting businesses in the field.

So the competition gives cities and businesses the change to test innovative ideas and see the results of their ideas sooner than they might have thought.