Why smart grid and smart water are essential to a smart city



By now, you probably know that cities all over the world are embarking on smart city initiatives. Sadly, many of them fail to understand the critical importance of energy and water infrastructure to their aspirations. The guest editorial below makes this point eloquently. Whether you are in smart grid or smart water, you'll want to make sure that the cities you serve understand these points. - Jesse Berst


By Jim Anderson and Mark Leinmiller


Urban environments are becoming more and more attractive worldwide. Spurred by the growing modernization and industrialization of rural areas, the United Nations is predicting more than 75 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. With this unprecedented growth, city planners around the word need to ensure they can operate safe, sustainable and efficient cities to maintain a high quality of life for residents. And this growing urbanization has become the key driver for smart cities.  


When you think of smart cities, you may think of something out of a science-fiction movie, however the term "smart cities” is trending amongst governments, urban planners and even the private sector to address the projected demands on a city’s resources. Making cities smarter to support growth is emerging as a key area of focus for the public and the private sector alike. In fact, this decade, cities around the world will invest $108 billion in smart city infrastructure, such as smart meters and grids, energy-efficient buildings, and data analytics, according to Navigant Research.


Although the smart cities discussion has been dominated by the IT and software market, urban planners should be operating an infrastructure first strategy. To support a growing and aging population, the framework of the city - the electric grid, water management system, commercial buildings, traffic management systems, etc. - becomes most important. And intelligent energy use is one of the central components to achieving all of a smart city’s goals.


Fortunately, companies in the energy industry are in the unique position of offering more complete solutions for the smart cities market. We’ve long been incorporating digital and analytics tools into solutions like the smart grid and smart buildings. Coupled with an expertise in infrastructure management, energy companies offer a bottom-up approach to allow cities to improve their critical systems and infrastructure at a fundamental level as well as integrate their systems through advanced technology. Cities can then apply advanced monitoring and analytics to continuously measure and improve performance.


Smart Energy, Smart Water?

The smart grid is seen as the true backbone of a smart and energy efficient city. It allows residents and city officials to understand their energy use and make smarter decisions going forward. However in a smart city, water systems are a little-known, but equally important piece of critical infrastructure.