Smart cities are an increasing necessity as our world population continues to grow and urbanize. Already, over 70 percentof our population lives in cities. Simply put, a smart city actively uses technology to maximize efficient use of our world’s limited resources, in both private and public sectors.
“From a technological perspective, today’s smart cities have a multitude of engagement choices with which to start”
From a technological perspective, today’s smart cities have a multitude of engagement choices with which to start. Focal points include smart energy, mobility/transportation, healthcare, infrastructure, education, buildings and citizenry. The smartest of these solutions are highly automated, engaging advanced data analytics with minimal human intervention. The Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling these solutions, connecting sensing and control hardware and devices to intelligence in the cloud, and transforming the way we use technology with the propensity for more than the Industrial Revolution.
There are already smart city initiatives throughout the world, and more recently in the U.S. cities like Stockholm and Santander are using technology to change their cities from the ground up. In Stockholm, the city-owned fiber infrastructure, a universal fiber optic network, drives the tangential initiatives that include e-services to minimize paper usage, GPS analytics, and traffic monitoring. Santander has 20,000 IoTsensors monitoring pollution, noise, traffic, and parking and connectingbuildings, infrastructure, transport, and utilities. In the U.S., these efforts are garnering the attention of federal, state, and local governments and initiatives are being discussed and started in many of our major metropolises.
While smart city initiatives are largely drivenby municipalitiestoday, the business opportunities are becoming more obvious, and the private sector has taken notice. There is an anticipated $1.5T market value by 2020. The decreasing cost of IoThardware and increasing sophistication of software make significant margins more viable and pioneering strategic partnerships more prevalent.
The benefits of smart cities are plethora, with advantages to be gained by everyone involved. Participants, in addition to governments, include telecoms like AT&T and Verizon, service providers like Comcast and Time Warner, security companies like Tyco and UTC, technology companies like Google and Cisco, utilities, and IoT device and control manufacturers like Honeywell and GE. While many of these groups are competitors today, “coopertition” will become more attractive in order to leverage each group’s assets and specialties and more rapidly deploy mass solutions. In residential home automation, these relationships have already taken hold to transform the single-family automation and home security market.
But cities lack the footprint to build single-family homes to take advantage of the benefits of automation, and the rapid urbanization trend will continue to spur commercial residential development of apartments, condominiums, elder care facilities, and campus communities. While commercial building intelligence systems are largely included in smart cities initiatives, the commercial residential space lags behind, except as an occasional pilot or showpiece. It is imperative that these commercial residential buildings lay the foundations and infrastructures to participate in and engage as an integral part of the smart cities of the future.
In New York City, for example, commercial buildings make up 75percent of structures, and 75percent of those are commercial residential. New York City is not unique in its building demographic, and again, this number is necessarily increasing, with housing shortages a priority concern in those cities -the same cities that are exploring smart city initiatives, but largely leaving out the complex challenge ofincorporating and engaging commercial residential.
But, that challenge is being addressed by progressive IoT technology companies. While many of them miss the mark, by attempting to iterate on residential IoT automation solutions and ignoring the unique commercial residential use cases, other solutions are addressing this space from a Smart Cities perspective, enabling data collection and analytics that scale. Today, cost-effective and rapid return on investment IoT technologies available to commercial residential include integrated access, energy, and automation management and control systems that address the needs of the property owner, manager, and resident, a far cry from both the residential solution or the traditional commercial building solution.
Access management and control for commercial residential properties is on the leading edge of today’sIoT technologies. Already it is possible to download an app as a credential or key and use Bluetooth to access an apartment or condo, as a resident, maintenance person, or manager. The software platform allows property owners and managers to create and replace secure credentials without leaving their desk, increasing the safety and efficiency of the property dramatically.On the smart city scale, the systems interconnected to each other and a municipality can inform data analytics systems far beyond the relatively simple building management system. Imagine a city that is able to adjust transportation needs based on real time analytics of residents leaving for their commute.
HVAC systems for commercial residential are advancing rapidly, as well. Smart thermostats connected to controllers engaging smart analytics in the cloud can be managed collaboratively between property managers and residents, optimizing the efficiency of building-wide systems, while maximizing resident comfort through technology as an amenity. If 75percent of New York City’s energy usage was reduced by 25percent, that represents significant city-wide savings. That’s smart, and just the beginning. By usingadvanced energy demand response capabilities, or even coordinating demand usage across the city with small time shifts, peak demand usage could be reduced considerably. Such actions could change the energy requirements landscape for the entire city, removing need for inefficient peak power plants or buying expensive power from other cities.
And automation options are limitless on the right software platform, one that is protocol agnostic and future-proof to avoid obsolescence. Automatic window shading is more just aestheticappeal; it can be used in conjunction with lighting and HVACto maximize natural light and natural heat to provide even greater savings when coordinated across a building or even a city. Leak sensing done on a large scale not only prevents building damage, but reduces water waste, especially when coordinated with building metering and shut-off valves.
To better prepare today for smart cities of the future, existing buildings should begin to consider and explore what it means to be and what would be required to retrofit to a connected building that would more easily enable smart deployments. New construction projects should budget for the highest quality connectivity available, as it will be crucial in the future, but a true amenity for residents today. Preparing for connectivity can include fiber or high speed Ethernet run, minimally, to every building on a site, along with ducting, cabling, and closets needed for a full site-wide wireless connected solution. A good solution will make wireless access points and cabling easier to upgrade for the future of wireless access. While wireless access methods are changing, the constant increase of both speed and density is not, creating increased need of this infrastructure.
Smart city initiatives should include commercial residential buildings, and the sooner the better. The complexity of the technology or customization of each property should not be a deterrent to inclusion, from concept to implementation. Addressing the largest and fastest growing building footprint in the worldeliminates the huge gap in the intelligence necessary for the long-term, meaningful gain of smart cities.