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Industry Rep Describes How Municipalities are Using Smart Systems

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Roger Drummond is Midwest regional sales director at Current, powered by GE.

Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2016 11:20 am

According to Wikipedia, “A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate multiple information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets.”

Now, if you could gather that information and use it to predict elements of the future that would save time and money, and increase the safety of residents, you would be well on your way to becoming an "intelligent city."

Would knowing the level of snow fall in a rural area save time and money by preventing the unnecessary dispatching of snow plows? Would knowing that shots were fired in a neighborhood possibly make residents safer if police could be deployed faster? If you could analyze street usage and fix pot holes sooner would you save money on payouts to insurance companies?

At the 2016 Growing Sustainable Communities Conference held recently in Dubuque, Iowa, speaker Roger Drummond, Midwest regional sales director at Current, powered by GE, said cities can use data technologies to cut down on energy costs, become more energy independent, reduce carbon footprints, improve performance, create efficiencies and plan for the future.

Data is everywhere – on street corners, buses, garbage dumpsters, in alleys, and in the environment, Drummond said. He said municipal governments can harness this data, analyze it and put it to work improving the quality of life for citizens and, in turn, creating a safer and more economical environment.

Drummond said many communities are beginning to make the change. In this LED retrofit revolution, municipalities are opting to switch out their older street lighting to new, more energy-efficient LEDs. Before taking this step, Drummond said cities should think beyond the initial retrofit and consider options that will provide benefits well into the future.

For example, he said, outdated street lights can be replaced with basic LEDs for the immediate energy and maintenance cost savings; then down the road, cities can move from the basic LED to a "smart LED" with lighting controls; and then, when ready, they can move to "intelligent LEDs" that contain infrastructure to capture data. Once the city is ready to take that next step, the LED components can simply be switched out to the next level.

Intelligent city technology allows officials to work with the community and city infrastructure to monitor what is happening and use that same data to plan for the future.

Reactive information, such as gunshots in an area of town, can be used immediately to deploy police officers and ensure the safety of area residents. Predictive information can be gathered and analyzed for future use such as parking optimization. You can analyze the number of open parking spaces in a given time period, monitor how long cars are parked, when they enter and when they leave. This analysis can lead to a reduction in carbon emissions, lower the cost of parking enforcement and help determine future parking needs.

Other predictive uses include environmental monitoring and analysis. There are health benefits to gain by knowing the allergens in the area and when the pollen count is high, Drummond said.

City residents might want more biking and walking paths. Drummond said intelligent systems could monitor the most used bike routes and where residents are walking, count cars, count passenger cars versus trucks versus semis, and then determine the best areas for those paths.

Once these systems are set up to collect the data, it can be mined through many software channels to fit the different needs of each community, he said. The path to becoming an intelligent city is not a simple process but today’s innovations greatly reduce the complexity and position cities for new levels of productivity and efficiencies, Drummond said.

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