Smart Energy Technologies in Everyday Life: Smart Utopia?

In cities we need smart, not utopian, ideas
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But there are already hints of darker potential. Google is already buying up chunks of the Bay Area and New York; its power and public appeal could easily overwhelm cash-strapped local governments even before it becomes the repository for all that citizen data.

About Harald Wouters

I think the biggest issue is in building new gas generation vs. Water wheels and wind mills will be back in fashion. At an MSNBC forum Thursday intended to allow Democratic presidential candidates to spell out their plans to deal with climate, Senator Bernie Sanders avoided talking about solutions and instead doubled down on past calls to criminally prosecute FAQ Policy. New citations to this author. There is a risk too that smart cities become a panacea, something tech companies and local governments alike tout as a solution to everything from snarled traffic to natural disasters.

Some urbanists and good-government advocates fret that going down the aisle with big corporations might be a short-term salvation that, generations from now, will have set cities on the wrong path. Anthony Townsend, an urban planner and forecaster, has spent most of his career on the question of how the thoughtful application of technology can help cities solve their problems, including challenges of sustainability and inclusion.

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  • Smart Energy Technologies in Everyday Life?

He wonders, though, whether Quayside is ambitious enough —whether its accumulation of existing technology really amounts to the kind of breakthrough cities need. Modern cities, with money and an educated population, should be the labs for big new ideas about living, and Sidewalk is their best shot right now.

Other observers counter that Sidewalk is aiming high—that aggregating all that technology in one place could be its own kind of breakthrough.

Modern cities thrive on information, but none has built itself around data infrastructure in a similar way; connecting a bevy of smaller-scale innovations through a common networked digital platform could be a hugely powerful innovation in itself. Google is not the first company to try reimagining a city. Epcot Center, the Florida theme park, has its roots as a real city-building idea. Disney died of lung cancer shortly after shooting that film, and Disney, the company, balked at being in the city-building business.

It ended up as a theme park. Cities themselves have more money and energy than ever; rather than building from scratch, like Disney did, modern smart-city builders want to harness the energy and dynamism of existing cities. The corporations behind the technologies, like Google, have the power and reach to envision changes on a scale far beyond a theme park. A truly smart city runs on data and algorithms rather than civic decisions made by humans. So, who owns all the data? There was supposed to be a stadium in that spot. And the company started looking for land.

Appealingly, it was on the waterfront, and the city was ready for it to change. It even had a new government structure in place to oversee the property, an entity called Waterfront Toronto, made up of three layers of government—city, provincial and national—which itself is the product of a failed Olympic bid. Its job was to make something happen. That so much of government was already on board with the waterfront project was hugely appealing to Sidewalk.

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The local tech sector was booming. In fact, the very artificial intelligence that powers post-search Google was in large part pioneered at the University of Toronto. Waterfront Toronto issued a request for proposals for the site, with a tight turnaround of six weeks. Sidewalk scrambled and generated a plan hundreds of pages long, complete with quirky line drawings of local features, that offered a sweeping vision of a neighborhood built from the ground up—actually, from below the ground up—to be a home for innovation.

It got the contract. But the basic idea is for Sidewalk to go on a yearlong local listening tour, brainstorming along the way for a master development plan for the dozen-acre slice of land. Aggarwala, too, served in New York City government, as head of its sustainability plan. Perhaps the flagship initiative of that plan, congestion pricing to ease traffic in the heart of the city, did not come to pass.

Part of the founding team at Sidewalk Labs, Aggarwala made a study of neighborhoods, even whole cities, designed from scratch. With cars banished below ground, humans would travel around instead via never-stopping electric-powered trollies called People Movers.

Insights from staff and students across Imperial working in climate and environment related areas

This book interrogates the global utopian vision for smart energy technologies and the new energy consumer intended to realise it. It enriches and extends the. Strengers describes the dominant vision of a 'Smart utopia', which underlies smart energy projects and policies worldwide and which promises.

The city itself was mainly interested in the promise of solid economic development and a quick timetable. It was not simply a smart-cities play; it considered everything from sustainability to housing. The relationship between government and Sidewalk remains a work in progress, and some critics worry that handing over too much control to a private company will set the wrong precedent. They even plan smart bins that inform the the city when they are full.

Energy Utopia: What stands in the way of smart, clean, affordable, customer-led energy?

A part from its safer dock initiative, for example, Bristol is creating a control centre to analyse emergency service response times and determine where responders are needed most. M unicipalities do not themselves have the technical expertise to exploit the full range of possibilities. So some are partnering with technology firms, which provide sensors, cloud services and powerful AI algorithms to interpret generated data and draw useful conclusions from it.

Its potentially big business. In America, cities including Detroit and Las Vegas report being courted by big tech companies, which see an opportunity in potentially lucrative contracts for hardware and data management. This is already causing controversy. There is a risk too that smart cities become a panacea, something tech companies and local governments alike tout as a solution to everything from snarled traffic to natural disasters. So how can this technology best be used to solve the actual problems cities have? P erhaps the most hotly anticipated development is that of self-driving cars , which many experts believe are not viable at all without 5G.

Beth Kindig, a Silicon Valley technology analyst, is among those who believes 5G is a necessity for even partially autonomous cars to function properly, because of the bandwidth needed for cars to process information and make decisions.

Smart Energy Technologies in Everyday Life Smart Utopia?

M anufacturers use a scale from one to five to denote autonomy, with five being a car that can safely drive itself anywhere. Level three and four cars can pilot themselves in limited areas and with some human help. While self-driving technology is still in development, companies are working on ways of providing real-time data to aid traffic flow. T his data collection will also, eventually, help networks of autonomous cars navigate city streets.

My study has centred on two potential future energy business models that put people or communities in control of energy. One model, Third Party Control, is where a company engages on your behalf in the energy system. The other model, Shared Economy, is where communities have come together to own and operate their local energy system. During the research, energy stakeholders examined two futures, in which one or the other business model has dominated the market.

This graphic is a summary of the findings. Markets must enable business model innovation: New business models have the potential to unlock new customer and energy systems benefits, so it is important that organisations and businesses are able to bring these innovative propositions to market. This means creating space in industry regulations for this to happen, without accidently creating the Wild West in which consumer protection is weakened. Ofgem, the energy regulator, has recently started this process through its innovation link and regulatory sandbox.

Smart devices and data must be interoperable and secure: Data and smart devices are essential to deliver an efficient and smart energy system because they enable home devices to respond to energy system needs. For example, when data reveals the energy system is under stress and prices are high, your fridge could turn off for a bit without spoiling your food!