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ENERGY: Smarter Cities – More Efficient, Sustainable and Liveable


Recent Gauteng Business News

“In an increasingly urbanised world, creating intelligent cities is essential,” states the introduction to the Smart Cities conference to be held in Amsterdam, Washington DC and Kuala Lumpur in 2012. Specialist in energy management, Schneider Electric South Africa, echoes this vision and as such, is focusing its expertise on creating tomorrow’s smart cities.

Carl Kleynhans, country president: Southern Africa at Schneider Electric South Africa, explains why rapid urbanisation calls for smart city solutions. “The figures are well known but arresting. Cities today cover two percent of the earth’s surface, contain 50 percent of the world’s population, consume 75 percent of global energy and give off 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. And cities are growing - by 2050 they will be home to 70 per cent of the people in the world. This means that over the next 40 years we need to provide new urban capacity equivalent to that of the past 4,000 years.

“As the world wonders how to meet the challenge of the growing demand for energy and resources, while drastically reducing global carbon emissions, one thing is clear: this challenge will be won, or lost, in the cities,” he says.

Cities today, all over the world, are plagued with congestion, sprawl, power shortages, lack of water, unaffordable public services and many other urban ills.

“Our ever developing urban areas are faced with a growing pressure on infrastructure, rising consumption, an increased demand for mobility, tighter economic pressure, more ambitious environmental goals and fiercer global competition.

“Cities need to solve these issues in order to become more efficient, more sustainable and more livable – that is, provide a higher quality of life for residents,” adds Kleynhans.

Getting Smarter Cities Going

Cities, however, are a complex value chain, involving not just local governments and inhabitants, but local business, utilities, real estate developers and managers, as well as investors. Therefore, as cities embark on their journey to “smart” - be it because they will play host to a major event, need to expand, want to relieve pain points or in general plan their future - they will need to bring in all stakeholders, including the private sector, from the start.

“Fortunately, the solutions to make cities smarter do exist,” says Kleynhans. “What is key is having all stakeholders work together to bring in these solutions and combine them, collaborating across sectors, to ensure cost-effectiveness and compliance and funding over time.”

Importantly, he highlights, these solutions need to improve the efficiency and operations of a cityÂ’s system, must be affordable and easy to integrate, deploy and manage, as well as cover all the cityÂ’s needs to make it smarter.

What is in Store for Smarter Cities

He explains that the companyÂ’s SmartCity concept combines hardware, software and services to deliver higher infrastructure efficiencies, increased sustainability and improved city facilities to meet the various needs of urban areas.

“Solutions for SmartCity includes five areas of expertise: Smart Grid for managing demand in electricity while improving customer service; Smart Water for managing water hazards and growing water demand; Smart Building and Homes, optimising resource consumption and comfort through green buildings; Smart mobility, facilitating resident mobility through better information and interoperability and; Smart Public Services to efficiently manage public safety, healthcare and government administration,” he says.

Schneider Electric has taken its unique, collaborative approach in-house too resulting in its international headquarters in Reuil-Malmaison, France, being the first ISO 50001 certified building in the world.

“Locally, we also say it, mean it and live it. Our head office in Midrand, Gauteng, has saved 32 percent on its energy bill, thanks to the implementation of the company's own solutions to measure and analyse its energy usage, control its lighting and air-conditioning.

“We know what it takes and can apply this expertise to help make our cities smarter,” concludes Kleynhans.

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