Partnering to Meet the Challenges and Opportunities in Building Smart Cities

Next Generation Communications Blog

Partnering to Meet the Challenges and Opportunities in Building Smart Cities

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

As populations increasingly migrate from rural to urban areas, power utilities face new economic challenges and opportunities around creating and maintaining adaptive grid communications network infrastructure.

The dynamics of this global change are fairly well known, although how to address the challenges isn’t so obvious. For example, cities consume three quarters of energy and contribute 80 percent of CO2 emissions globally, according to a recent report in The Guardian. How can that energy be most effciently delivered, with minimal environmental impact?

Consensus is emerging that what’s needed are smarter, safer, greener cities. Governments and municipalities are under pressure to invest in sustainable infrastructure capable of efficiently delivering services to citizens and workers.

There’s a pretty compelling smart grid transformation opportunity for public-private partnerships embedded in this evolution. Together, telecom service providers and information and communication technology (ICT) providers can bring in their assets, expertise and experience to help power utilities meet goals for smart grid applications.

Smarter energy management for power utilities is an imperative, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to achieve.

ICT is an important driver of economic competiveness, livability and environmental sustainability associated with smart grid transformation for smart cities, noted Marc Jadoul and Jacques Vermeulen of Alcatel-Lucent in a recent TechZine article, Smart practices for building smart cities.”

 “The right ICT infrastructure will affect the way each city will be created and evolve,” Jadoul and Vermeulen noted. “It will enable smart cities to include vastly enhanced sustainable areas, such as smart buildings, smart infrastructures (water, energy, heat, and transportation) and smart services (e-substitutes and e-services for travel, health, education, and entertainment), which drastically change the urban experience for city dwellers and travellers.”

Using broadband networks to provide access for high-capacity communications infrastructure, the city net becomes the backbone of a smart city. Creating that backbone requires investment in an open data approach flexible for a variety of applications that benefit both the city and its population.

 This infrastructure foundation opens up opportunities to optimize a city's public infrastructure, including a smart grid to reduce CO2 footprint and lower energy bills. For example, wireless sensors can continuously monitor and control lighting.

Other important aspects of an effective smart grid include real-time remote grid monitoring substation automation, smart metering, and green energy devices.

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