It’s World Cities Day on October 31st and in conjunction with the overall theme of “Better Cities, Better Life”, 2015 has a focus of “Designed to live together”.
Through the years, Schneider Electric has been involved in over 250 smart cities projects and we’ve seen many inspiring and transformational stories, large and small, delivered across the globe. When we started to think about how we’ve seen technology implemented to deliver better cities and better lives for citizens, we thought it might be interesting to consider a slightly different angle.
Creating smart cities to improve efficiency, reduce costs and improve the lives of residents is a major challenge and often requires large and complicated workstreams to join up platforms, infrastructure and varying stakeholders. However, there are times when it’s the relatively small details that “surprise and delight” us as well as generate an astonishing impact in terms of costs savings.
One example that is worth sharing comes from the Greenlys initiative in France, which is a project that Schneider Electric helped deliver for the cities of Lyon and Grenoble. Part of the solution was to offer smart charging for electric vehicles which would be ultimately linked into the smart grid for the region. A small but clever detail of how this worked is that vehicles would be charged quickly or slowly when plugged into their charging stations depending on the load on the grid at that moment in time. If you plugged your electric vehicle in to charge at a time when the load on the grid was low, you get a fast charge and vice versa. This intelligent load balancing design was applied to other parts of the grid as well and collectively reduced energy costs for both cities by 16% – a surprisingly significant amount.
Another example of “small” details making a positive difference to the efficiency and liveability in a city project is in Ecocity Valdespartera Zaragova in Spain. While this project was a terrific example of how our Wonderware offerings helped successfully create automated systems for gathering big data and managing significant volumes of infrastructure, there were also some well thought-out smaller design elements worth noting.
The Ecocity has solar electricity generation, so careful attention was given to orient the buildings to maximise the potential energy the solar panels could capture. This helped increase the efficiency of the solar supply and reduced the amount of electricity needed to be generated or sourced via other means. The design also incorporated screens to act as windbreaks from the prevailing winds to help create pleasant micro-climates for residents in private spaces.
While examples like these are not monumental by themselves, combined together with the full smart city plan provides a great display of how designing for better cities, better lives can enrich the citizen experience and produce long-term, sustainable communities. They show us that even the smallest of details can add value to a large project.
To learn more about big picture ideas and innovative details for smart cities, visit us in Barcelona at the Smart City Expo World Congress, November 17-19, 2015. Or you can visit our web site any time for our eco city solutions.