Friday, 22 August 2014 02:07

Lighting the way for smarter cities of the future Featured


Smart meters are almost old hat in the cities of today, with the so-called smart cities of the future already starting to move well beyond the clever meters to ultimately deliver a whole host of technology-driven infrastructure such as intelligent and adaptive street lighting.

And, according to a global expert on smart city applications, smart grid technology and networking vendor Silver Spring Network’s CJ Boguszewski, there are opportunities for Australian municipal councils and authorities to leverage Internet of Things (IoT) technology to modernise critical infrastructure, including costly street lighting networks.

Boguszewski, Silver Spring’s Global Commercial Lead for Smart City Applications, told a conference in Melbourne this week why it was critical that councils move beyond smart meters and smart energy networks to take the next step to “more sophisticated IoT applications.”

He told the Australian Smart Lighting Summit that intelligent street lights are “often the onramp to smarter cities.”

“By establishing an open, standards-based IP network underpinning multiple applications, from energy to public lighting to traffic light systems to disaster sensors, cities can leverage network economics to cost-effectively deploy new smart infrastructure services to their citizenry over time,” Boguszewski said.

“With our smart energy networks deployed in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, the market has made strides in proving out the critical role technology plays in helping modernise its energy and municipal infrastructure.

Boguszewski told iTWire there are significant savings to be had for Australian cities by deploying IoT technology, savings which he says can be applied in other pressing areas of expenditure such as in the schools system, police services and other municipal services.

“The technology is available but the question is whether the councils see this as something that’s important to them, or whether they prefer to receive it as a service from their electricity distribution company,” Boguszewski says.

According to Boguszewski, Silver Springs has found that, while intelligent street lights are the ‘on-ramp’ to developing smart cities, beyond that cities in Australia - as in Copenhagen, Glasgow and Paris in Europe and Dongguan and Foshan in China - can look to leverage the smart energy networks to connect other critical infrastructure assets, including smart traffic lights, smart energy resource management, disaster and pollution sensors, EV chargers, and much more.

“Cities today in Australia are faced with costly, ageing infrastructure. Street lights, for example, can consume as much as 40% of a city’s energy budget. Smart public lighting networks can help drive reductions of more than 10% in street light energy consumption and can help lower maintenance costs by up to 30%.

“When combined with LEDs, Silver Spring’s Smart City Solution can help deliver up to 60% in energy savings over traditional high-pressure sodium street lights and can help reduce maintenance costs by up to 35%.”

“What’s been great, as we started this business within Silverspring over the past 9 months, is that we’ve actually had some contracts that are now ramping to scale, in Miami, Copenhagen, Paris & Glasgow,” Boguszewski.

“For example, in Copenhagen the contract we’ve got with the city guarantees they make 57% energy savings compared to the 2010 baseline, and for every percentage point below that we pay a penalty.

“So, we feel quite comfortable the technology delivers some significant savings. That’s a combination, of course, of the LED technology and the management system we supply.”

According to Boguszewski, councils in Australia are already starting to think about what to do about the lights in their cities, and whether to upgrade to LEDs and smart network control systems.

He suggests investment now in these smart energy networks, and in areas like smart lighting systems, will enable councils, or utilities, to take advantage of new applications in the future, and to reduce costs and divert savings to other areas of expenditure. “They should choose wisely and adopt the systems which will help, in the future, to improve the quality of living in their cities.”

“You can imagine if a city’s lighting expenditure is 40% of its budget and they can cut that in half, think of how many more services you can provide for your budget. There’s the real opportunity, where you have the chance to reallocate those dollars to other areas like police, schools and other municipal services.”

Boguszewski says that Silver Spring’s networking platform has already connected over two million homes and businesses in Australia to energy providers such as Citipower & PowerCor, Citipower, Jemena, United Energy and Western Power, “helping improve energy efficiency and to empower consumers to make smarter energy decisions.”

And, in New Zealand, Silver Spring has been selected by SmartCo, a consortium of electricity lines companies, to deploy an advanced smart grid network across New Zealand, and has already begun deployments with member company WEL Networks.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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