In the months since I attended the Smart Cities event organized by Qualcomm and CommNexus in San Diego, the buzz about “Smart Cities” and the use of machine-to-machine (M2M) wireless technologies has only grown louder and more intense. Which Smart City-relevant innovations are under development inside Qualcomm?
Known primarily for mobile chipset technologies, Qualcomm is working to optimize wireless networks and sensors that support M2M solutions and, ultimately, Smart Cities of the future. An often-overlooked part of this initiative is the company’s work in preparing the wireless industry for the imminent tsunami of data that will come when countless “things” equipped with M2M wireless sensors—part of the “Internet of Everything”—hit wireless networks. Qualcomm calls it the 1000x Challenge, referring to wireless industry predictions about a 1000x increase in mobile data usage between 2010 and 2020.
From Qualcomm’s perspective, a “smarter grid“ employs digital wireless technologies that allow utility companies to safely and securely deliver prepaid electric services that save homes and businesses money through real-time monitoring of power usage over existing cell networks, thus reducing deployment costs for the utility and saving energy for the planet. At the same time, smarter grids enable customers to better manage their own energy usage.
One recent Smart Grid example is Qualcomm’s work with Duke Energy, the largest electric power holding company in the United States. The success of this collaboration has enabled Duke Energy to install hundreds of thousands of communications nodes, which interface with electric and gas meters, line sensors, transformers, and other end points, meters, sensors, and distribution automation equipment, and optimize energy usage in five states.
Working with ECOtality, a maker of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, Qualcomm participated in The EV Project, the largest deployment of electric vehicles and charge infrastructure in history. The project, now in nine states plus the District of Columbia, leverages cellular technology incorporated into charging stations, enabling EV car drivers to easily find charging stations with their smartphones. Moreover, the solution allows users to reserve stations as well as receive alerts users when the charge is finished or if it the charge has been interrupted.
Another exciting development, also involving EVs, is Qualcomm Halo’s teaming with Renault and Delta Motorsport in London. Qualcomm Halo, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, produces wireless charging mats that enable EV drivers to simply drive up and park over the charging mat—no exact alignment necessary (e.g., you have to line up your electric toothbrush perfectly on the charger in order for it to charge). Initially, the benefit is no longer having to deal with tangled charging cables. But looking beyond that, Qualcomm Halo envisions embedded chargers in the roadway. Even further out is the idea that these mats could be built into the road and connected to the overall Smart Grid. Depending on the time of the day, more or less energy resources could be devoted to that specific roadway, effectively channeling energy to where it’s needed most.
I had the opportunity to attend Meeting of the Minds in San Francisco last week. It was an amazing event that brought together thought leaders from the world’s most innovative organizations to spotlight fresh ideas in urban connectivity and sustainability.
The emerging themes centered around innovation, leadership, and enabling connectivity. While there and after the first day of sessions, my team had the pleasure of catching up with Gordon Feller, director of the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) Public Sector Practice, Urban Innovations team and convenor and co-founder of Meeting of the Minds, to capture his insights. Check out the video:
I am in San Francisco this week to attend a City Protocol workshop along with the Meeting of the Minds 2012 conference (Twitter: @meetoftheminds), which brings together thought leaders from the world’s most innovative organizations to spotlight fresh ideas in urban connectivity and sustainability.
All week, I’ve been surrounded by urbanists and city experts talking about ways to make cities better. At many city events worldwide, I see a lot of discussion that seems to center on “what” can be done to improve our cities. This week, however, I’ve heard people asking the presenters “how” the smart innovation actually happened. That is, they wanted to know who did what, and how it was developed, operated, and financed.
This clearly demonstrates that there is need for more replicable and usable information describing “how” Smart Cities are actually made to be smarter. To fill this need, one must understand how cities operate and how Smart City “indicators” are actually delivered. Read More »
Interest in Smart Cities has triggered plenty of theoretical and technology-led discussions, but not enough progress has been made in implementing related initiatives. In addition, there are a number of factors hindering adoption of Smart City solutions: scaling of newer technologies is unproven; technology challenges the existing status quo in how cities are run; and technology is not well-understood across city sectors.
However, the main barrier to adopting such solutions is the complexity of how cities are operated, financed, regulated, and planned. For instance, city operations are multidimensional and comprised of multiple stakeholders whose dependencies and interdependencies affect and ultimately determine the built environment. Smart Cities, however, present an opportunity to integrate physical city infrastructures—from utilities, transportation, and real estate to city services. Read More »
Key to the development of effective public sector strategies for resilience, innovation, and productivity is the ability to navigate at unprecedented scale and speed, complex and distributed communities (networks) of information, people, and things. By tapping the power of these networks, communities can effectively share ideas, expertise, and knowledge, encouraging richer levels of participation.
Smart City development and services through partnerships, collaboration, and community was a major theme at the London Policy Conference (#lonconf) on December 12-13, 2011. Jointly hosted by IPPR, a leading UK think tank, and London’s new think tank, The Centre for London (incubated by Demos), the conference was a platform and network for all those with an interest in London’s future. Sponsored by Cisco alongside other private and public organizations, senior leaders from the public, NGO, and private sectors convened to discuss the major policy challenges facing London and how its future might be best shaped.