Ah, weather – one of life’s multi-purpose tools. Conversation filler (“Quite the weather we’re having.”), alleged indicator of world’s end and source of inspiration for comic book writers to empower heroes and villains alike.
Weather can also be a Data Center’s best friend. Solar energy can be harvested to help generate power, for instance, such as is happening at Cisco’s Data Center in Allen, Texas. (Look for the 100 kW solar array on the right side of the Data Center’s roof.) Wind energy as well. Rainwater can even be collected for cooling system usage or to irrigate landscaping.
The resiliency and determination of America’s sense of justice was thrust into a spirit of rejoicing on Sunday evening May 1, 2011, when President Barack Obama addressed the world, confirming Osama bin Laden’s demise in Pakistan. While watching the breaking TV news coverage, I began to share that sense of accomplishment and joy, less for the act of neutralizing the thought leader and chief architect of 9/11 and other atrocities against Americans, and more for the fortitude and resolve demonstrated by the U.S. commander-in-chief, our military forces, and intelligence agencies. I found myself thinking of what this type of public resolve implies for the future state of our Manufacturing economy in the U.S., whose resurgence is essential to the country’s defenses, global leadership, and the health and prosperity of our citizens, along with those of other democratic nations.
President Obama’s determination coming into office in January 2009 to recommit U.S. resources to bring justice to bin Laden, and the U.S. intelligence and military’s subsequent success bodes well as I consider his commitment to U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, infrastructure build-out and job creation articulated during the President’s January 2011 State of the Union address. During the last several quarters, I have had the privilege to present on behalf of Cisco to the Office of the President as part of the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC), a broad cross section of manufacturers, technology suppliers, manufacturing consortia, government laboratories and research universities across industry segments pulling together to recommend programs to revitalize U.S. manufacturing.
Today is Earth Day, and that has me thinking green. As I discussed this afternoon at GigaOm’s Green: Net conference, the world is changing around us in many ways, including becoming more urbanized. Over the next five years, some 500 million people will be added to the world’s cities. As we think about how to manage the energy and environmental challenges that will accompany these trends, what role will the network play in helping us be more efficient and more sustainable? And what benefits will that bring to utilities and to consumers, to governments and communities at large?
Cities consume 75 percent of the world’s energy and are responsible for 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Utilities and the energy infrastructure are at the heart of city planning. If we are to better manage this impact, we must transform our electrical grid into a modern and more sustainable platform for the 21st century. Technology is the only way we can achieve balanced and sustainable growth.
Lessons in how to make our electric grids more reliable, more secure and more scalable can be gleaned from our experience in vastly revamping the telecommunications infrastructure in the ‘90s. Here too we had somewhat proprietary, siloed networks that didn’t talk to one another. Here too we had an industry that was highly regulated and needed to cautiously implement change. And here too we had an emerging field of companies chomping at the bit to capitalize on making the new telecomm infrastructure everything it could be.
The lessons we learned from this transition are important: architect the infrastructure on open, standards-based technology; build in security from the beginning; and establish public- private partnerships to align policy with infrastructure investment needs.
This transformation will rely on new technologies but also on leveraging existing technologies such as routing and switching for a utility environment. Data centers, cloud computing and security have a role to play in managing and protecting the vast influx of usage data so that we can make better educated decisions about energy consumption. Energy management of businesses and homes will leverage the existing networks extend their reach and impact. And given that the entire grid is the world’s largest infrastructure, integrating energy infrastructure with information technology will require a disciplined, architectural approach that we can only begin to foresee.
This transition has great implications, especially in our largest cities, where the need is most apparent. Examples are cropping up around the world of this vision in action. The Envision Charlotte initiative has set a goal of reducing energy use by up to 20 percent within its perimeter through greater education of citizens and use of information technology. BC Hydro in Vancouver just announced that it will roll out 1.8 million smart meters based on Itron’s OpenWay technology, powered by Cisco, to enable a more efficient grid and foster the use of renewable energy. And the city of Incheon, Korea is building in sustainability from the ground up.
These are but a few of the examples of how cities are changing, based on their energy and environmental goals. As I look around today, I see a smarter, more connected world emerging with a more intelligent and efficient energy infrastructure, supporting millions of customers, and billions of watts, with one network at the core
Scientists have been sounding the alarm about global warming for the past several years, and recent studies have indicated that warmer global temperatures will reduce the number of animal species across the world by 20 or 30 percent.
While there are certainly plenty ways for each of us as individuals to try and live a more green lifestyle in the hopes of turning the tide of global warming—whether driving less, or composting our trash—here at Cisco we have the Connected Grid portfolio of Smart Grid communications solutions, which can help utilities more reliably and efficiently deliver electric power from generation facilities to businesses and homes, resulting in better energy management, while also providing economic and environmental benefits.
Small businesses in the U.S. spend more than $60 billion annually on energy, according to Energy Star, a joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. Although there are many steps you can take to reduce your company’s power consumption, have you considered building energy efficiency into your network?
Whether you’re just starting to build your small business network or expanding it to accommodate your growing company, a “green” switch can help save money on your utility bill as well as contribute to a cleaner environment. Here are some features to consider when shopping for an energy-efficient switch: