Smart moves around the world.
Here are a few of the more innovative and successful examples of smart city initiatives.
Vienna: Viennese citizens can purchase solar panels to go into a solar power plant. The first crowd-funded solar power plant, with 2,100 panels feeding energy into the Vienna power grid and capable of producing solar power for 200 homes, opened in May 2012. The panels sold out within a week. Four such plants have been completed to date. Austrian citizens can pay $1,280 Canadian for a full panel, or half that for a half panel. Buyers get a return of 3.1 per cent deposited into their accounts every year. When the life of the plant is up is up in 25 years, the city will buy back the panels from citizens. Vienna also recently created a public-private entity called TINA Vienna that is responsible for developing smart city strategies, and lists 100 projects being developed, blogger and climate strategist Boyd Cohen writes.
Lyon, France: Lyon is pushing hard to become a top-tier smart city on a continent that leads the world in innovations born of common issues of congested residential spaces, high energy costs, traffic snarls and environmental degradation. To fix those problems and boost jobs and income in new digital and green economies, Lyon is promoting 40 smart-city-type initiatives, and promoting its efforts worldwide (aggressive marketing to attract workers and investment is a major theme of smart city initiatives). One such project, promoted by Lyon Mayor Gérard Collomb on a recent trip to Montreal, is called Optimod. The application will constantly analyze patterns to tell drivers which routes are quickest, which parking lots have spaces at the fastest means of transit that day, be it train, bus, metro or tramway, and from there, which bike-sharing depot has remaining bikes, or where the closest shared vehicle can be picked up, for the fastest commute on any given day. Once perfected, Lyon plans to market the system worldwide.
Côte-St-Luc: Smart can be as simple as SeeClickFix, a software the municipality of Côte-St-Luc spotted at a municipal trade show and started implementing in 2013. At www.cotesaintluc.org/seeclickfix residents can report such problems as broken street lights, cracked sidewalks, potholes or damaged trees, receive an acknowledgement the complaint was received and find out when the problem was fixed or why it hasn’t been. Other residents can watch the progress or lack thereof and weigh in with their own comments. “It’s like having a small army of volunteers identifying problems and sending us photos,” said Darryl Levine, head of communications and information technology for the city of 32,000 “People want to send us the information because it benefits them and their neighbours. We want the information because it helps us work more efficiently.” Smart doesn’t have to be expensive: Côte-St-Luc pays $7,000 a year for the software. The company charges cities based on their population.
Eindhoven, Holland: Triple-helix collaboration between innovative universities, supportive government and the deep pockets of private enterprise is the holy grail of the intelligent community mantra, the key to creating a job-generating society that will enrich all citizens. Easier said than done. The think-tank Intelligent Communities Forum (ICF) named Eindhoven the Intelligent Community of the Year for 2011 in part because the region south of Amsterdam created Brainport Development, a mix of employers, research institutes, the Chamber of Commerce, universities and the governments of the three largest cities of the region. “A small professional staff meets regularly to identify their strengths, needs and objectives, then looks for opportunities for them to collaborate on business, social or cultural goals,” the ICF wrote. A similar group was formed to deal with the region’s health-care needs and costs, finding ways to improve service and productivity while controlling growing costs.
Amsterdam: Amsterdam has a history of smartness before its time, with high levels of bicycle commuting, bike-sharing initiatives going back decades, and even electric-vehicle car-sharing attempts in the 1990s. More recent initiatives of the Amsterdam Smart City Project include finding ways to use waste heat generated from data centres and medical buildings to heat other buildings. The Digital Road Authority in the IJburg district is developing a system using traffic data to provide residents with personalized traffic advice based on appointments in their smartphone’s calendar or their destination, and could change traffic lights timing depending on flow. The Vehicle2Grid system is looking at ways residents can use energy produced by their solar panels, (which can be bought at IKEA in the Netherlands), to either sell it to the local energy grid, or store it in the battery of their electric car to power the vehicle or their household appliances.