Urbanova, a noteworthy initiative involving Avista, is
a test bed for understanding smart city technologies’
potential by using the University District adjacent to
downtown Spokane, Washington, pictured here.
planning or participating in smart city
Geography counts. No two cities are alike.
Smart city initiatives will take different
forms, depending on economics, politics,
geography and access to resources. While
resiliency may be a primary motivation for
building an islanding microgrid as part of
a smart city in the Northeast, in the Northwest peak reduction is the motivation for a
microgrid operating in the grid-connected
mode. Some cities start with a technology
initiative, such as smart street lighting or
traffic signals that can be controlled for security, major events and traffic congestion.
Others begin with a neighborhood or innovation district, such as Oklahoma City and
Philadelphia where cities connect universities, entrepreneurs, start-ups, incubators,
accelerators and millennials to innovate
and provide economic stimulus to existing
neighborhoods (see Brookings Institute).
Like universities and hospitals, innovation
districts require secure communication
networks and redundant power.
Build critical mass. A successful smart
city cannot emerge from one or two play-
ers. Partnerships are a must and partners
will be attracted to popular initiatives. A
good example is the Urbanova. a the new-
ly-named smart city living lab in Spokane,
Washington that started with Avista, Itron,
the city, Washington State University and
other partners. As pilot projects were initi-
ated, the appropriate partners were identi-
fied and recruited. For example, Urbanova’s
quality sensors showing different affects
at neighborhood levels. Civil engineers
and health researchers are learning what
conditions—such as tree canopies—might
account for the difference. Ultimately, this
collaboration will lead to predicting and
mitigating threats to public health.
Smart Columbus in Columbus, Ohio,
shows how accelerator concepts can
be magnets for smart city funding. So
far, Smart Columbus has put together
$271 million from sources such as Ohio
State University, Columbus Partnership,
the State of Ohio and others. Colum-bus-based AEP has contributed $175
million. Because a key piece of the concept involves EV infrastructure, Smart
Columbus has been awarded $40 million
from the U.S. Department of Transportation and $10 million from a Paul V. Allen
fund to pursue this initiative.
ADVICE TO UTILITIES
Cities are complicated, and smart cities
even more so. The organization iNeighborhoods, involved in St. Louis, has developed
a comprehensive process to assess readiness, involve the community and establish
metrics to measure success, then design,
build and operate, according to Sandel. In
addition, the Smart City Council has created a guidebook (Smart City Readiness
Guide) that covers much more than a
short journal article.
The panelists offered some nuggets
on things utilities should consider when
shared energy economy project includes
engineering and design firm McKinstry,
distributed energy resource management
vendor Spirae, battery provider UET, Pacif-
ic Northwest National Labs, Washington
State University and Schweitzer Engineer-
ing Laboratories among others.
Engage the community. Community en-
gagement begins with involving residents,
local businesses and students—especially
STEM students—at all stages of planning
and implementation of initiatives. When
the community is engaged, there is op-
portunity for innovation. The city can find
out if solutions will really work for their
citizens or what problems the community
thinks are worth solving.
Design the initiative for success. Start by
setting out an overall strategic vision and
a prioritized list of objectives. Set up met-
rics for success. The Chattanooga exam-
ple is a good one. The collaborative group
identified potential benefits and collected
data that could be analyzed comparing
planned vs. actual benefits.
Demonstrate success. Pritchard said it is
important to begin with addressing cur-
rent needs in the city. From there, work to-
ward an implementation that it is stable.
Then it is possible to expand.
Continuously monitor emerging technologies.
This is especially important in areas where
there will be high impact on the economy,
the environment and the psychology of
the city, such as with autonomous vehi-
cles. | PGI