Urban Sustainability – Not Just A Dream

January 25, 2013 - 4 Comments

As world leaders ponder how to meet the growing demand for energy and resources, while reducing global carbon emissions, cities are challenged even further. The exponential growth of cities has resulted in enormous urban challenges:  scarcity of resources; skyrocketing passenger, cargo, and digital traffic; and outdated and overloaded infrastructures.

The continued expansion of the Internet and our society’s increased connectivity seemingly amplify these urban challenges. However, Cisco and Schneider Electric see an opportunity to create a new future for cities, and they are already making cities more efficient and connected today.

The key is transforming a city from the inside out:

  • Developing an efficient infrastructure for the utilities network, transportation systems, buildings, and public services.
  • Adding connectivity to integrate these efficiency solutions, and including people in the social conversation.
  • Reducing carbon emissions and environmental consequences of urban life to ensure sustainability.

This transformation requires that the city’s operating systems, such as utilities and transportation, function with optimal efficiency, allowing data collection for operations optimization. In order to solve the “pain points” that negatively affect city residents (such as power outages), it is critical to optimize each individual system, as well as the overall structure and connections among systems. Efficient integrated operating systems that create connections will improve services, offer better information sharing, and enhance a city’s sustainability and livability, transforming it into a Smart City.

For example, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil used a holistic, integrated approach to infrastructure management, and has seen a 15 percent reduction in traffic delays, improved response to water outages, and reduced operational costs of utility networks. Cisco IBSG addressed the importance of resource connectivity in its white paper, “The Time Is Right for Connected Public Lighting Within Smart Cities.”

As cities embark on their own “smart” journey, they need long-term collaboration among all stakeholders, including the private sector, with a shared vision of efficiency and sustainability.

Additionally, in order to finance a “smart” project, cities need to develop and implement innovative business models. This can be achieved by creating additional revenue streams (such as selling systems information) or through the resulting operational savings (for example, performance contracting).

Cisco and Schneider are already using tailored solutions to help cities envision their futures, develop roadmaps, and deliver measurable results. With an integrated, collaborative infrastructure in place, think of the infinite possibilities to further improve city livability, connectivity, and sustainability.

To discover more about developing a Smart City Framework, click here.

 On Sept 9-11 of this year, in Canada’s City of Toronto, Cisco and Schneider are teaming up (alongside IBM and some others) to convene a special invitation-only leadership summit: the “Meeting of the Minds” <http://cityminded.org/events/toronto>. The issues raised in this blog post will be debated, discussed, dissected and deliberated. Tune in for more details, since the live webcast will be accessible to you on any device connected to the network on both Sept 10 and 11.

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  1. To some, ‘smart cities’ may seem like a thing of the future- like “The Jetson’s” many of us grew up with. The reality is that smart city technology is here today, and it is being used to make cities more livable and sustainable for future generations- in cities new and old. Technology and analytics can be applied to existing systems and sub-systems to change the way we work, live and play. Take a look at this video to see how intelligence is being brought to the grid in The Netherlands: http://tv.schneider-electric.com/site/schneiderTV/index.cfm?video=0yNGlmNzoP0fpPiu2JMW1DZIPkInTh5O#ooid=0yNGlmNzoP0fpPiu2JMW1DZIPkInTh5O

    • Kim,

      I’ll promise to stay right on top of these issues, and continue blogging about them here on this page.

      One historical note: The public fascination with the futuristic city was stimulated some time before the Jetsons showed up on our TVs. During the World’s Fairs of the 1930s the public-at-large started to imagine (with a lot of coaxing and pushing from GM and others) the “city of the future.” Not surprisingly, perhaps, cars were at the center of that vision.

      To keep our historical memories fresh, the Museum of the City of New York just opened “Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s,” an exhibition celebrating the six fairs, including New York’s 1939 World’s Fair, which was the largest and one of the last of the six, masterminded and built by then Parks Commissioner Robert Moses.

      On a personal note: I grew up a few miles from that Fair’s site, now Flushing Meadows Park in Queens NYC. And, we all know that site — it’s featured in every one of the “Men In Black” films. Usually a creature from another planet is fighting it out with the MIB, right there, at the globe or another part of the Park.

  2. this is very helfpul to read.
    i clicked throuh to the provided links, and those were also very illuminating to read.
    clearly, a sharper focus on the ‘Internet of Everything’ is going to force us all to rethink how infrastructure and assets (whether devices or homes or cars or whaetever) can be linked in ways that produce meaningful results for cities.
    can you elaborate?

    • Bill,

      Well, I guess that great minds think alike: as you were writing you comment we were just now planning a blog post to continue this discussion.

      So….please be sure to “stay tuned.”

      You touched on an issue that’s, right now, under the microscope here: the “Internet of Everything.”