EcoStruxure for Smart Cities: Smart City Technology Starts at the Operational Level

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For over a decade, city leaders around the globe have been seeking technology-enabled smart city solutions.  Despite the focus of conferences and the uber-solutions of many IT players, few cities are going ‘smart’ from the ground up, and those that do usually start with district or pilot programs.

For existing cities, going ‘smart’ can be difficult.   Aging city infrastructure continues to be a challenge to reliability and connectivity of citizens, and cities are tasked with improving operational efficiencies of city systems with limited new budget.  Meanwhile the demand for reliable energy is growing due to the demands of a 24X7 society with a wide array of IoT-enabled devices connected to the grid.  The built environment, like hospitals, airports schools, office buildings, and more need to be sustainable and efficient and easily integrate with city systems as well.

So how do cities challenged with the daunting task of implementing smart city technology really move forward?  The array of solutions offered by both information technology (IT) and operating technology (OT) providers can be dizzying and complex.   That’s why we use the pyramid diagram below, which represents both scale and hierarchy, to describe certain parts of city technology.  Cities have a huge amount of technology in these existing legacy city systems, with a myriad of ICT devices and systems, which is the true operating technology level of a city. Cities cannot afford to ignore this existing technology layer, and the first step to making their cities smarter lies in optimizing these existing systems in some way to not only improve their fundamental performance but to ready them for integration with newer systems further up the pyramid.

From a Schneider Electric perspective, we call this foundational level the ‘connected products’ layer of our EcoStruxure architecture.  This is where we offer mission critical optimized operating technology products such as SCADA, smart panels, switch gear and transformers and much more.  From there, Cities need to optimize these existing city systems further up the OT layer with management of the devices at the edge, or edge control.  This concept is often referred to as distributed intelligence and effectively makes devices smarter without referring constantly to a “central intelligence” so to speak.   Here we offer solutions such as building and power management.  At the top of the smart city pyramid is where cities need to join their IT and OT systems which involves both connecting and integrating these systems. There is little sense in having a complex sensor network for example, which is functioning in a purely “reporting” role and is not integrating into the operational and control levels of city services.

To facilitate the operations of the top of the smart city pyramid, Schneider Electric offers apps, analytics and services such as Resource Advisor for sustainability management, Facility Advisor for building performance and operation, and Wonderware integration software which can connect many parts of a city’s OT layer in real-time performance management. We call this overall architecture, EcoStruxure Innovation at Every Level, and it results in integrated and optimized smart city systems in both the IT and OT layers- bringing together EcoStruxure and controls in existing legacy city systems at the connected products layer with IT software and services at the Apps, Analytics and Services layer.  Schneider Electric’s solutions are cybersecure from bottom to top, and our field, consultative, and digital services help take the complexity out of projects for our smart cities customers.


In short, our innovative, IoT-enabled operating solutions and services help make smart cities more efficient, resilient and sustainable.

 Cities like Carson City, Nevada are using Schneider Electric EcoStruxure for Smart Cities to improve their water and waste water systems and management of public works solar plants. In Europe, the City of Barcelona’s El Prat Airport relies on Schneider Electric integration technology to manage a myriad of separate systems such as access controls, HVAC, baggage systems, escalators, fire safety and more.  Lastly, in the built environment, Deloitte’s latest sustainable office building, ‘The Edge’ uses Schneider Electric EcoStruxure technology to generate more energy than it consumes.

For more on Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure for Smart Cities, visit our smart cities solutions site.

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