We’re becoming increasingly familiar with smart meters, but what do we know about ‘smart cities’?
The Smart Energy UK & Europe Summit 2015 gets underway in London this week (January 29th and 30th), so what better time to discuss the growth of smart cities? With countries across the globe setting ambitious climate change targets, it’s vital that the world’s leading economic and industrial hubs use technology and clever planning to become greener.
Let’s take a look at five cities that are leading the way in the race to become more eco-friendly.
Renowned for stunning architecture, beautiful weather and Lionel Messi, Barcelona is a forward-thinking city that is going the extra mile to ensure it is not wasting energy unnecessarily.
The city has devised a seven-step plan in order to meet its energy-efficiency targets. Measures include the deployment of electric vehicle charging stations, the introduction of orthogonal bus lines, the building of a smart energy network, the creation of a smart water system and a smart lighting scheme.
These plans are already bearing fruit, with 50 per cent of the city’s lighting power now controlled remotely, while 12 per cent of parks were expected to have remote irrigation control by 2013. As with all smart cities, Barcelona will ensure that all future infrastructure developments are planned in the most eco-friendly way possible.
All eyes will be on this city in the Canadian province of Quebec later this year, as Montreal is scheduled to host a smart city expo.
Held at the Palais Des Congres Montreal between March 25th and 27th, this event is an international conference that will bring together experts from across the globe, allowing them to discuss the development of new policies that will aid the creation of smarter cities.
Montreal itself is no slouch when it comes to finding new ways to slash carbon emissions. The local tourist board is making a big push on eco-friendly guided tours, where visitors are encouraged to see the city on foot or on bike. Impressively, almost 97 per cent of Quebec’s generated electricity comes from renewable sources, and the province is the world’s fourth-largest provider of hydroelectric power, behind only China, Brazil and the US.
It’s easy to overlook Alaska’s main city, but we really shouldn’t be surprised that this relatively sleepy metropolis is a good example to follow when it comes to energy efficiency, given its relatively close proximity to the polar ice caps.
Second only to Madison, Wisconsin in EcoWatch’s US green city index from April 2014 - a chart that calculates an overall eco-friendly score based on numerous factors such as excess fuel used by commuters and air quality - Anchorage is certainly ahead of the curve. It was announced earlier this month that plans are in place to create a brand new housing development in the city, which will generate more energy than it uses. If every residential project in the world could follow this blueprint, we’d certainly be well on our way towards smashing our energy-efficiency targets.
The unrest in Israel usually dominates the news, which overshadows its positive contribution to the fight against climate change.
Nevertheless, Tel Aviv won the prestigious World Smart Cities Award in 2014. Known as ‘the start-up city’ because of its growing influence in the technology world, Tel Aviv has used its status as a burgeoning technology hub to make the city more eco-friendly.
The Digi-Tel Residents’ Club and city app has helped to connect residents with the city, making it easier for locals to garner real-time information about issues such as road closures and where the nearest bicycle-sharing scheme can be located. This is a great example of how smart technology and eco-friendliness go hand in hand.
Songdo is arguably the most intriguing city on our list. This South Korean experiment is unique in that it has been built specifically as a smart city.
Due to be finished this year, Songdo - which is a short distance from Seoul - has been widely described as a ‘city of the future’. With lots of green space and widespread access to bicycles, this brand new city has got eco-friendliness at its very core and it could spawn a trend for brand new, built-from-scratch smart cities around the world.
It’s certainly worth keeping an eye on its progress this year.
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