Smart Cities – the Cities of the Future?
‘Smart cities’ is the latest concept when it comes to building the cities of the future. Smart cities are expected to be the key to combining a sustainable future with continued economic growth and job creation. There are many definitions of a smart city including sustainable, liveable, intelligent and green. However, the common denominator seems to be access to data and intelligent tools to connect knowledge and people to drive change. What set Smart Cities aside compared to ‘Eco Cities’ and ‘Sustainable Cities’ is its strategic use of new and high-tech, ICT-based solutions to connect the citizens and technologies of the city on a common platform.
Why do we need Smart Cities? Three factors can answer this question; urbanization, economic growth and environmental challenges.
The global trend of urbanization and population growth, which puts ever increasing pressure on the world’s cities, creates a necessity to develop smart and sustainable solutions within the cities to cope with the effects of an increasing population. Furthermore cities constitute the biggest contributor to a given country’s GDP. By 2025, the 600 biggest cities in the world are projected to account for 60% of global GDP. The 30 largest cities alone are projected to drive 20% of global GDP growth from 2010 to 2020. Last but not least the increased urbanization creates an environmental pressure on the city-areas. Around 70% of global CO2 emissions derive from cities, which are also facilitating unprecedented consumption levels among their inhabitants. This means that cities consume as much as 80 percent of the total global energy production.
What is a Smart City? The increased pressure on the cities due to increased numbers of inhabitants, an increased necessity to generate economic growth and increasing environmental challenges leaves the cities in need to develop a sustainable way of living. This sustainability is developed through environmental sustainable solutions combined with a full use of the possibilities the digitalization of the society has given us. This means enabling the technology to gather data, which can be used by the technology itself in order to adapt to the most sustainable and smart behaviour. Enabling the technology to communicate, be able to share the gathered data with people or other technologies or borrow relevant data from elsewhere and make the technology multifunctional, they provide solutions to not only one, but to multiple problems.
The Smart City can be defined as a city which makes it surplus into resources through its use of information and communication technologies combined with sustainable and environmentally friendly multiple solutions. It emphasises the need to improve the level of mobility and connectedness through collaboration and open source knowledge on all levels of the society. The following will focus on 4 topics within the concept of a Smart City; infrastructure, energy, water and wastewater treatment and green buildings.
If you are interested in reading more about the Smart City follow this link:
Long term Energy of a Smart City
As explained earlier a smart city is energy-efficient and technology-driven. With an increased urbanization and energy consumption one of the main responsibilities of a smart city is to focus on low energy use, renewable energy and small carbon footprints.
Energy in smart cities should be highly distributed and self-supplying to a large extent, so as to minimize the need for huge investments in high-capacity transmission lines from distant power plants. A range of renewable energy technologies modified for installation in cities can meet these requirements. This includes small wind turbines, micro-CHP and heat pumps. Furthermore the energy should be able to communicate and function as one collected energy network through integrated information and communication technologies to enable greater energy efficiency and flexibility.
In the following three different sustainable energy tools are described; the Smart Grid technology, wind power and district heating.
The Smart Grid – the intelligent energy system of the future?
According to Tyge Kjaer, Associate Professor at the Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change at Roskilde University, the world’s energy consumption is three times bigger than what is realistically possible in the long run. As the supply of electricity needs to balance demand at all times, the power plants need to generate an overcapacity of electricity in order to cope with unexpected surges. The energy grid of the future needs to be far more flexible and intelligent. The term ‘Smart Grid’ refers to a new kind of energy network which makes use of software and hardware tools to monitor and manage the transport of electricity from all generation sources connected to the network. This in turn provides for a more flexible and less wasteful energy transmission process, which is able to integrate decentralized and local power.
To know more about the Smart Grids click here
Wind power – a sustainable source of energy. Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electrical power and windmills for mechanical power. Wind power is sustainable and can be made with minimal pressure on the environment.
To know more about wind power please click here.
District heating – is a system for distributing heat generated in a centralized location for residential and commercial heating requirements such as space heating and water heating. The heat is often obtained from a cogeneration plant burning fossil fuels but increasingly biomass. District heating plants can provide higher efficiencies and better pollution control than localized boilers. Due to the nature of DH production it is also a very environmental sound way of heat production.
To watch a movie about district heating please click here
The Infrastructure of a Smart City
Compliers of energy statistics normally divide the final energy denmand into four sectors; industry, transportation, households and services. For this section we are going to focus on the energy consumption made due to transportation and infrastructure.
The infrastructure of a city creates the framework for developing the city and supports the movement of people, energy, money, goods, ideas and so forth. In that way a good infrastructure is essential for a city to thrive and develop.
Normally the word infrastructure leads the thoughts towards roads, pedestrian paths and bicycle lanes. But in connection with the concept of the Smart City it covers three specific areas; physical, digital and Communicative infrastructure.
The physical infrastructure
Even though the physical infrastructure is just one third of the solution in the Smart City it is the first step that has to be made to integrate the digital and communicative infrastructure. The urbanization creates a huge pressure on the roads of the city due to an increasing number of cars and people. This creates a huge pressure on the environment and especially the amount of pollution in the air is likely to increase. To handle the increased population and keep the traffic flowing it is important to create an efficient public transportation system and secure modernization and the sustainability of the infrastructure.
Today the Russian politicians focus on the concept of ´life cycle costs’ (LOC) and ‘best available technology’ (BAT). Danish companies are likewise focused on delivering quality products and innovative solutions. Denmark has fostered a generation of companies who focus on green solutions and sustainability – a focus that can become a valuable active in the future Russian market.
Furthermore as it is seen in Denmark, especially in Copenhagen, bicycles is a cheap, environmentally friendly and space-saving transportation possibility. Not only are bicycles easy on the CO2 emission level and takes up less space in the city environment - the health and longevity also benefits from cycling. The benefits are seven times greater than the cost of accidents, in money value the total health impact is worth 1.7 billion. Kr (230 million Euro).
For more information about the bicycle culture of Denmark:
- To visit Copenhagen – City of Cyclists please click here.
- To visit Bicycle Innovation Lab please click here.
- To visit The Cycling Embassy please click here.
- To visit Cykelistforbundet please click here.
The digital infrastructure. In a Smart City, the physical infrastructure of the city is integrated into the digital. Sensors and smart meters deployed throughout the city can provide digital information about traffic flows, vacant parking spaces, energy use, car crashes, weather conditions etc. This information can then be accessed by the city’s inhabitants via smart phones or other smart devices and thereby inform them about the smartest options for moving around the city. This makes the physical infrastructure much more flexible and customized.
The communicative infrastructure. Besides the integration of the physical and digital infrastructure, the communicative infrastructure needs to be integrated as well. In order for the Smart City system to work, all people and devices have to be able to communicate with each other via the same language. This not only calls for standardization within the coding language of digital devices, it also calls for a common communicative platform on which the people and the technologies of the city can meet and share their knowledge.
To read more about the digital and communicative infrastructure please click here.
Green Buildings for a smarter city – green living for a greener future.
The construction industry and construction of environmental friendly and sustainable buildings are a major part of the transition towards a greener future and smarter cities. Furthermore Danish statistics have showed that there is also an economic gain connected with a greener construction industry (see figure 2). Therefore the market of construction has an enormous potential for resource savings and economic growth.
Russia faces a huge need for modernization of buildings on all fronts – heat and water supply, insulation of the houses, supply of electricity and so forth. This fact creates a huge possibility for Russia to invest in green building materials and seek to make the houses in Russia environmentally sustainable.
Creating green and sustainable buildings are products of holistic planning and collaboration across the entire value chain from design and construction to demolition and reuse. In a Smart City the buildings must be understood as an integrated part of the entire system. A building’s sustainability is hard to uphold in an unsustainable society – therefore it is important to integrate the building into a system of sustainable transportation, energy (smart grids), water and waste management.
To read more about green buildings in a Smart City click here.
Clean and sustainable water – now and for the generations to come. Russia is a country that is used to have plenty – plenty of resources, plenty of oil and they do also have plenty of water. Russia has renewable water resources of over 4.300 cubic kilometres, comparable to the whole of Europe which has 6.590 cubic kilometers, or 9,089 cubic meters per capita. In Russia this number stands at over 30.000 cubic meters per capita (aquadoc.com). Therefore Russia has never had to worry about the quantity of water, but rather about the quality of water.
Russia’s aging industrial apparatus and its former lack of environmental considerations has left the country with massive water pollution problems. The water treatment facilities need to undergo a modernization to secure the quality of the Russian water - but even if the water treatment facilities manage to turn the polluted water into clean and drinkable water, the old and rusty pipes of the Russian cities pollute the water during its trip from the water treatment facilities to the faucet of the Russian kitchens.
Read more about the problems of water pollution in Moscow and the Russian water company please click here.
The Russian water industry needs to thrive from the knowledge that already exists within the water sector. Danish water companies have gathered a great knowledge and expertise within this sector and have a wide range of innovative quality solutions for water and waste water treatment. Due to big developments and an increased focus in the area of water and wastewater treatment within the Russian society the Trade Council Russia has decided to create the ‘Danish-Russian Water Group’ as a new branch of the ‘Energy and Environment Club’. The new water group creates an opportunity for Danish companies to share their knowledge with Russian water and wastewater companies and work to increase the Russian water quality through collaboration.
If you want to know more about the Danish knowledge within the water sector please follow this link.