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Smart cities will be centers of excellence for sustainability and climate change achievements -Feeding data insights from urban IoT deployments

By Bettina Tratz-Ryan | November 06, 2016 | 0 Comments

Almost one year after the climate commitment of COP21 Paris Agreement was signed by 175  countries to curb green house gas (GHG) emissions, 55 of those nations that are responsible for more than half of the global emissions have ratified the agreement and, as of this Nov, 5 2016,  will execute on their pledge. COP 22 in Marrakech, Marocco, is about the start November 7, 2016 continuously driving consensus on global climate change initiatives.

Many of the world’s leading cities have also pledged their support for climate change programmes, lead by the C40 , to contribute to reduce climate impact, understanding their important role as a home for many people and industries. Cities with their population, infrastructure and industry are generating an large amount of the GHG emissions of a given nation, and therefore have also the power to lead in the execution of sustainability and climate change initiatives. As complex ecosystems, singular approaches from local governments, citizen groups, or enterprises have already identified potentials and created momentum in the past. However, the chances of a shared vision of an entire community to introduce a concerted effort on green and sustainability goals become multiplied when those cities, communities and regions are also working towards becoming a smarter environment.

In smart cities, information, data and insights are being shared with the different stakeholders in the community, public sector as well as the industry. And while single solutions have certainly resulted for instance in operational efficiency of curbing traffic volume during rush hour or energy efficiency through different building and lighting technology, it is the composition of real time data with network performance and user behavior that allows smart cities to become an environmental center of excellence for applications, data orchestration and leveraged algorithmic insights. Sustainability strategies in organizations are on the rise, now with the ability to utilize IoT data in real time in all the different work and business environments, enterprises can work much more closely with the urban ecosystem, to determine routes, resource consumption and efficiency across the business value chains. As a key differentiator, they also become an integral point of inclusion, talent management and workforce advancement.

Also the role of the citizens is changing from consumers of city services to “co-developers” of city ambience and sentiment. Through the many IoT devices and wearables that inform citizens on air quality, obstructions on pedestrian ways for disabled or quickly shifting situations on their journey, citizens do not only consume real time information but also become citizen contributors as they also can enable the recording of data which is then sent to a community application to be aggregated for further assessment.

Cities, communities and regions have the ability to link their smart city vision and objectives to climate and sustainability goals, because it does not only make sense but- is also possible. I clearly see that by 2020, half of the global smart city programmes will include sustainability and climate change key performance indicators.

Two reasons that will support this prediction:

First, many programme objectives today already have implications that can be measured in sustainability, resilience or climate change terms. As an example, accelerating car sharing and ride sharing, as well as electrification of public transportation, support infrastructure for E-vehicles and congestion charging for combustion engines drive cleaner air, less GHG emissions and therefore also energy reduction, while improving the noise levels and ambience on streets. This is why I also see an increasing number of mobility concepts that extend beyond the traffic and parking management, rather focusing on the entire impact of physical or virtual mobility. Integrated building management is another example and Gartner expects that by 2020, 20 percent of energy efficiency in cities overall will come from public and private buildings using integrated building management systems (BMS). This can be further accelerated through a set of subsidies, tax reliefs and rebates for energy efficiency investments. IoT technology, location based services and a smart building environment that focuses on user ambience instead of a infrastructure performance will create also inclusion, societal, economic and environmental accomplishments.

Secondly, sustainability and climate change strongly associate with the perceptions of citizens on their “quality of life” in their city. In urban regions, cities and communities, citizens experience non-stop the level of concern that their governmental leadership team has for their daily and future quality expectations. Social communities are forming quickly that drive sentiments on decisions, whether it is recycling, cleaning of storm water drains on streets or the integration of smart parking for car sharing services. In addition, smartphone applications and consumer IoT devices are showing the true and often real-time face of a city when it comes to environmental, inclusion or social issues.  I believe that sustainability and climate change is moving main stream as they directly relate to the wellbeing on society and city environment that is measurable through the power of smart city data.

The efforts of cities to create KPIs and benchmarks on climate change, sustainability and resilience is supported by different rating and measurement frameworks developed by technical, social and industry organizations. ISO 37120 creates a set of KPIs and benchmarks for sustainable development and quality of life, that are focusing on a holistic view of city activities and the impact on the citizen. STAR Community Rating in the US directly targets through a point approach the sustainability aspects of the city and provides a rating for cities that meet a set of outcomes.  The ITU-T and UNECE launched in May 2016 “United for Smart Sustainable Cities” (U4SCC) that published with  ITU-T L1603 a catalog for green and sustainable performance measures on the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The ITU also standardizes on technologies that cities can use, including IoT, and broadband, to set minimum standards on energy consumption and GHG emission.

I am convinced that city leaders with a clear direction of objectives for their smart city interactions will be the champions of creating a livable and prosperous environment for their communities. I will discuss the key smart city trends and the ability to drive business and service models during the Gartner Symposium/IT Expo November 6 to 10th in Barcelona, Spain.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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