She said Boston worked
with Massachusetts Institute of Technology to map
out the energy footprints
across the city in order to
determine prime locations
for microgrids and district
In the middle of the country,
James pointed to Kansas City,
Missouri for its efforts around
its streetcar system that is out-ftted with sensors and wif.
She also mentioned Minneapolis, Minnesota for its close
work with utilities to help
achieve its climate action plan.
Bottom Up or Top Down?
There are lots of different
triggers that might cause a
city to start a smart city initiative. According to James
sometimes it starts with a
single building or sustainabil-ity mandate.
“There are some positive things happening in one
area and it kind of organically
grows until it becomes a bigger focus point for the city,”
Other times it can be led
by a utility, such as the case
with CPS energy in San
Antonio, Texas. Paula Gold-
Williams, CEO, explained
that for them the smart city
Energy looking to upgrade
its grid with smart meters
from Landis + Gyr and a
networking platform, advanced metering infrastructure and
distribution automation from Silver Spring Networks. The
smart city initiative simply grew from there. Gold-Williams
added: “There is no end to creating a smart city. You just start
and keep going.”
But according to Black and Veatch’s James, the best initiatives
take place when there is full buy in from city leadership, the local
utility, academic institutions and community groups.
The most successful work happens when there is “a collaborative integrated entity that is working together to make it happen,” said James. She added that Clean Tech San Diego is a great
example of that.
While city leadership with a solid vision is one of the keys to
creating the smart city initiative, ultimately, “the city may not be
the strongest player in the mix of actually making it a reality,”
said James. In Spokane, Washington, for example James pointed
“It includes the utility, the city, the university and again it’s a
collaborative network of public sector, private sector and non-proft and academic sector coming together to try to move goals
forward at that intersection of smart city and energy.”
How Do You Pay for It?
Forrest Small is a senior managing director at Black and Veatch.
He said the number one hurdle highlighted in a recent Strategic
Directions report put out by the organization is budget.
“Budget tops the list. A lack of resources or expertise is number two and policy hurdles come up as number three,” he said.
That said, there are some tried and true traditional fnancing mechanisms that cites are using to fnd the money to usher
in smart city upgrades. One avenue is through energy savings
performance contracts, which have been around for decades.
When an upgrade — such as a switch to LED streetlamps
— will result in reduced energy costs, there are entities willing to fund the upgrade and receive payment back based on the
A newer fnancing mechanism is advertising. In New York,
the city is replacing old telephone booths with smart connected kiosk systems that offer free wif, said James, explaining that
the kiosks are one answer to the city’s connectivity goals. But
they also offer an opportunity for cell-phone charging and have
sensors that take air quality measurements and count traffc.