Russ Vanos, VP, Sales & Marketing, Itron Global Software, Services and Smart Cities [NASDAQ:ITRI]
In 1950, there were only two megacities with more than 10 million people—New York-Newark and Tokyo. Today, 35 megacities exist, illustrating the growing presence and importance of cities in today’s urban world. The number of people living in cities will increase from 3.6 billion today to 6.3 billion by 2050, which means 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities.
As populations grow, the demand for city services and amenities will increase as well. Energy, clean water, sanitation, transportation, public safety and other services will need to be managed more efficiently and effectively. Making energy and water infrastructure more efficient and reliable, and making cities smarter, more livable and sustainable is readily achievable by applying the right technology in new ways in the age of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Smart cities take a strategic approach to using technology and data to help drive efficiencies, create sustainable initiatives, and actions within a city. They integrate technologies and business processes and bring together a broad ecosystem of partners and advisors. Smart cities also engage citizens to be more involved in city activities.
Technology is at the heart of any smart city, and this is where the Active Network comes in. Serving as a foundation for cities and utilities to better manage and use energy and water, the Active Network is a platform for many city applications. As utilities deploy smart grid communication infrastructure, cities are also able to leverage that infrastructure for additional purposes, making their communities more livable and resourceful.
Smart cities take a strategic approach to using technology and data to help drive efficiencies, create sustainable initiatives, and actions within a city
The Active Network is where the smart grid meets IoT, continuously analyzing data and taking action at the edge of the network to produce a more efficient and effective system for resource management and other smart city applications. With the Active Network, intelligent endpoint devices such as electric, water and gas meters or sensors, communicate and collaborate directly with each other and make decisions in real time.
For this to be effective, the Active Network must be open, secure, resilient, and interoperable. It is a single, multi-purpose network that features open standards and utilizes IP-based communications to create the foundation for a smart city. Open standards are essential to helping a city become more effective in delivering services to its citizens as they provide the mechanism for two-way communications. They also enable any device to connect via a single network and provide a source of real-time data to achieve smart city resource management goals.
Data is instrumental to the success of a smart city. Data sharing and analytics are the gateway to getting greater value out of smart technology and enhancing a city. Smart devices on the Active Network provide real-time data that can be leveraged to create efficiencies, reduce waste, and empower citizens. With analytics, that real-time data can be turned into insights that a smart city can share across city departments.
The Active Network can connect everything from utility smart meters, distribution sensors and control devices to urban infrastructures, such as streetlight controls, traffic sensors, air quality sensors, EV charging stations and solar installations. The Active Network utilizes cameras and sensors, such as gunshot detectors, to provide for safer neighborhoods. Sensors on the network can enable accessible healthcare for the elderly and low-income households through remote patient monitoring and gathering of data, such as blood pressure, physical activity, and medication intake. More broadly, the Active Network connects people to their surroundings to better manage energy and water, reduce wasted resources and support sustainable, healthier lifestyles.
For example, in Spokane, Washington, Urbanova has created a proving ground for smart city technologies that could range from microgrids, storage and solar energy to smart and connected streetlights and human-scale air quality monitoring. Working with the City of Spokane and Avista Utilities, among other founding partners, Urbanova was created to focus on applying replicable and scalable technology and data solutions to improve urban life.
By utilizing the Active Network, cities and utilities can access the information that allows them to interpret consumption patterns, quickly identify problems and solutions, and more efficiently allocate resources. In this capacity, smart cities can reach a whole new level of productivity and efficiency and will be able to better meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
A smart city, through collaboration and innovation, provides reliable access to energy and water, engages citizens in new ways, and enables communities to thrive. This is the city of the future. And it is achievable with the right elements—such as the Active Network—in place.