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Loving the Smart Grid and its Consumer Benefits at New America Foundation Panel

WASHINGTON, July 13, 2010- A panel of smart grid experts claims that smart grid advocates and providers are not doing enough to educate consumers about the benefits of smart grid technology.

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WASHINGTON, July 14, 2010- A panel of smart grid experts claims that smart grid advocates and providers are not doing enough to educate consumers about the benefits of smart grid technology.

New America Foundation’s director of their energy policy initiative, Lisa Margonelli, moderated the event and began by reviewing the major benefits to consumers through utilizing the smart grid including how the smart grid can save energy, allow consumers to shop for their electricity service, and protects them from possible electricity blackouts. However, Margonelli said “consumers need to love, not just like smart grid,” and that consumers need to trust both the smart grid and smart grid utilities providers in order for it to be effective.

David Owen, executive vice president of Edison Electric Institute said that smart electricity meters will be necessary along with the smart grid infrastructure in order to truly have a successful impact. Robert Leiberman, principal with The Regulatory Assistance Project also spoke about the smart meters bringing about a new business model for electricity billing and that many utilities and customers are not comfortable with the new model.

Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez, who is a senior research associate with the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute at the University of Colorado said this is a critical time for smart grid since it has media attention, funding from the Department of Energy, and interest from utilities. She said the backlash from the American public concerning smart grid relates to consumers’ confidence in the technology. She also advocated smart meters with display screens, so that consumers can actually see the amount of electricity and related cost of energy running in and out of their homes.

Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) was awarded $136 million to deploy smart grid technologies by the Department of Energy. However, the Maryland Public Service Commission recently denied BGE authorization to actually install smart meters in the state, saying that the financial risks to consumers was greater than the potential benefits. The panelists agreed that this was not a major blow to smart grid expansion, and was more of a utility pricing and rate issue than it was a new technology issue.

John Howat, Senior Policy Analyst at the National Consumer Law Center; felt the commission did like uncertainty in the projected future benefits of smart grid and said “The touted benefits and the numbers were not concrete, but based on the assumption that consumers would shift to cheaper energy times.”

When it comes to potential ideas for managing the recent smart grid concerns, Ehrhardt-Martinez said the people need to be empowered and feel like they are  part of the solution. A more robust education program and better information about the peak times and expense of energy usage will better motivate the public to embrace the technology. Howat said there needs to be a better planning process and smart grid technology should be compared to other alternate energy systems to justify funding.

Leiberman said “We have to depend on the ability of people to learn and adapt to the time it takes them to learn.” He also said that it is impossible to draw conclusions from a one- or two-year long project, and more time would need to pass before conducting a review of smart grid effectiveness to consumers. In addition to advocating a better education system, Owen said the people need more investment security and that utilities need to better balance the risks and benefits.

Editor’s Note: Join the next Broadband Breakfast Club event on Tuesday, July 20, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., on “The Smart Grid, Telecommunications, and the Electric Infrastructure,” featuring top officials from the FCC, the Utilities Telecom Council, and Verizon Communications. Registration is available at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com.

Lindsey is working with BroadbandBreakfast.com through an internship with the National Journalism Center. She graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in professional writing. She has worked in Virginia Tech's public affairs department, and she was an assistant editor of one of the college's news-magazines. Lindsey is from Chatham, Va.

Advanced Energy

White House Launches ‘Smart City’ Initiative That Links Broadband Connectivity to Urban Solutions

WASHINGTON, September 16, 2015 – A movement to make cities “smart” by using the power of broadband and information technology processing power is reaching critical mass, with the White House on Monday announcing a comprehensive initiative to support municipal efforts.

Coinciding with the Smart Cities Week conference here this week, the White House released a 4,000-word summary of more than $160 million in federal research investments, leveraging more than 25 technology collaborations with local communities.

The goal of these efforts? Tackling such key challenges, in the words of the White House, as “reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services.”

“Advances in science and technology have the potential to accelerate these efforts,” read the White House statement. “An emerging community of civic leaders, data scientists, technologists, and companies are joining forces to build ‘Smart Cities’ – communities that are building an infrastructure to continuously improve the collection, aggregation, and use of data to improve the life of their residents – by harnessing the growing data revolution, low-cost sensors, and research collaborations, and doing so securely to protect safety and privacy.”

The launch of White House Smart Cities Initiative

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WASHINGTON, September 16, 2015 – A movement to make cities “smart” by using the power of broadband and information technology processing power is reaching critical mass, with the White House on Monday announcing a comprehensive initiative to support municipal efforts.

Coinciding with the Smart Cities Week conference here this week, the White House released a 4,000-word summary of more than $160 million in federal research investments, leveraging more than 25 technology collaborations with local communities.

The goal of these efforts? Tackling such key challenges, in the words of the White House, as “reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services.”

“Advances in science and technology have the potential to accelerate these efforts,” read the White House statement. “An emerging community of civic leaders, data scientists, technologists, and companies are joining forces to build ‘Smart Cities’ – communities that are building an infrastructure to continuously improve the collection, aggregation, and use of data to improve the life of their residents – by harnessing the growing data revolution, low-cost sensors, and research collaborations, and doing so securely to protect safety and privacy.”

The launch of White House Smart Cities Initiative

The launch of White House Smart Cities Initiative

None of these Smart City innovations would be possible without the connectivity enabled by fiber-optic networks. These new opportunities for city services may prove to be the most effective driver of Gigabit Networks. As I wrote in an article last December on “The Year of Community and Municipal Gigabit Broadband,” this is “a world in which cities and municipalities are playing the leadership role.”

The White House Weighs In

Among the most significant facets of the administration’s announcement include:

  • More than $45 million in grants and investment for Smart City research and infrastructure by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
  • Nearly $70 million in new spending for technologies to promote solutions in public safety, energy, climate preparedness, transportation and health by federal agencies.
  • More than 20 cities participating in multi-party efforts “that will help city leaders effectively collaboration with universities and industry.”

In a separate statement on the White House web site, Dan Correa, administration senior adviser for innovation policy, wrote:

By coordinating adjacent traffic signals to optimize local traffic throughput, a pilot project in Pittsburgh has reduced commuting travel times by more than 25 percent, on average. In Louisville, the city is using data gathered from sensor-equipped asthma inhalers to understand the connection between asthma “hotspots” and air quality levels and other environmental factors in order to inform policymaking and community-level interventions.

One new aspect of the Obama Administration’s Smart Cities Initiative will be a focus on creating new technological test beds for “Internet of Things” applications.

Another will  be collaboration with the civic tech movement, the “growing community of individuals, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits interested in harnessing [information technology] to tackle local problems and work directly with city governments.”

In a manner similar to the way open source technology allows new innovators to build upon others’ software, this “open data” movement allows entities outside of government to make use of government data streams in real time.

Additionally, the White House said, the government plans to use other federal agency research — from sensor networks to broadband infrastructure — in its Smart City efforts, and to pursue international collaboration, particularly research aimed at climate and resource demand.

The agency also announced the release of a new framework for coordinating actions by a range of federal agencies, and a science and technologies priorities memo that will impact the administration’s pending 2017 budget proposal.

Actions by Cities and the Private Sector

In addition to White House and federal agency developments, more than 20 city-university collaborations are taking part in what is being called the MetroLab Network.

These collaborations include:

•        Atlanta, with Georgia State University and Georgia Tech

•        Boston, with Boston Area Research Initiative

•        Chicago, with the University of Chicago

•        Cuyahoga County, with Case Western University

•        Dallas, with Texas Research Alliance

•        Detroit, with Wayne State University

•        Houston, with Rice University

•        Madison, with University of Wisconsin-Madison

•        Memphis, with University of Memphis

•        Minneapolis & St. Paul, with University of Minnesota

•        Montgomery County, with University of Maryland and Universities at Shady Grove

•        New York City, with New York University

•        Philadelphia, with Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania

•        Pittsburgh, with Carnegie Mellon University

•        Portland, with Portland State University

•        Providence, with Brown University, College Unbound, and Rhode Island School of Design

•        San Diego, with University of California San Diego

•        San Jose, with San Jose State University

•        Seattle, with University of Washington

•        South Bend, with University of Notre Dame

•        Washington, DC, with Howard University, Georgetown University, and George Washington University

And among the more than 60 Smart City pilots taking place over the next year include:

  • City Digital, a Chicago-based consortium, focusing on urban infrastructure challenges
  • Dallas Innovation Alliance effort to enhance infrastructure, mobility and connected living
  • An IBM deployment of a Smarter Cities Challenge team in Detroit for cost-efficient removal and recycling of debris from abandoned and neglected properties
  • The National League of Cities and 25 local government and the 2015 winners of its Multi-City Innovation Campaign: The Bluelight mobile 911 application, and Ride, a collaborative tool for analyzing bicycling data.
  • New York City’s new neighborhood innovation labs that will leverage Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s efforts to expand a free public WiFi network throughout the city.

Drew Clark is the Chairman of the Broadband Breakfast Club. He tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, the universal service fund and wireless policy @BroadbandCensus. He is also Of Counsel with the firm of Best Best & Krieger LLP, with offices in California and Washington, DC. He works with cities, special districts and private companies on planning, financing and coordinating efforts of the many partners necessary to construct broadband infrastructure and deploy “Smart City” applications. You can find him on LinkedIN and Twitter. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com and affiliated social media are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

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Broadband's Impact

Global Cities Teams Challenges Next Round: Nov. 12-13, 2015

Editor’s Note: We’ve received this note from the Global Cities Teams Challenges of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and US Ignite. Read more about the these important challenges.

Save the Date – An Important Event Related to the Next Round of the Global Cities Teams Challenge: November 12-13, 2015

Municipal leaders and innovators will gather at the NIST Campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland on November 12-13 for an important event related to the next round of Global City Team Challenge (GCTC). An agenda for the November event and a summary of exciting changes that NIST and US Ignite have planned for the next round of the GCTC will be circulated soon.

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Editor’s Note: We’ve received this note from the Global Cities Teams Challenges of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and US Ignite. Read more about the these important challenges.

Save the Date – An Important Event Related to the Next Round of the Global Cities Teams Challenge: November 12-13, 2015

Municipal leaders and innovators will gather at the NIST Campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland on November 12-13 for an important event related to the next round of Global City Team Challenge (GCTC). An agenda for the November event and a summary of exciting changes that NIST and US Ignite have planned for the next round of the GCTC will be circulated soon.

In the meantime, if your plans include participating in Smart Cities Week (September 15-17), we hope you will consider joining NIST and US Ignite for a program titled “Accelerating Smart City Deployments: Challenges, Competitions and Collaborations from Smart Cities Around the Globe and Across the Region.” The program will take place on September 17 from 1:00pm to 5:30pm and will feature a preview of the next round of GCTC and a panel discussion on “What is Working,” featuring leaders from around the world and across the DC region.

Two more sessions at Smart Cities Week will be moderated by GCTC and feature GCTC team members:

My best for these final remaining weeks of summer. Look forward to seeing many of you in November!

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Infrastructure

Update on the Global City Teams Challenge and Recently Announced NSF Funding Opportunities

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Editor’s Note: We received this announcement on Wednesday afternoon about the very exciting Global City Teams Challenge, which has been supported by US Ignite:

The Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC) was successfully launched by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and US Ignite with a kick-off event at NIST on September 29-30. At this two day event, we had more than 350 on-site and remote attendees who came together to present project ideas and form Action Clusters on cyber-physical systems (CPS) and Internet of Things (IoT) for smart cities around the world. As of today, we have over 25 Action Clusters formed in energy, transportation, healthcare, disaster response, and many other sectors, working to demonstrate the deployments of scalable, replicable, and interoperable smart city solutions by June 2015. A current list of Action Clusters can be found at globalcityteams.org.

We are excited to announce that the National Science Foundation (NSF), one of the primary partners in the Challenge, has released an invitation to GCTC participants to submit proposals for up to $300,000 in funding. Detailed information about NSF’s Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals to support GCTC participants can be found here: http://1.usa.gov/1Eu2jwN

The deadline for submission of EAGERs is January 15, 2015, but earlier submissions are encouraged, and decisions will be made on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Additionally, NSF released a solicitation that makes available up to $4 million for the development of next-generation Internet applications. Many projects being pursued by GCTC participants are aligned with the NSF’s solicitation, as it identifies national priorities including clean energy, transportation, health information technology, public safety/emergency preparedness, cyberlearning, and/or advanced manufacturing.

More detailed information can be found here: NSF 15-508. Application for this solicitation are also due January 15.

Of course, if you have not yet connected your CPS project or your next-generation network/IoT project with the Global City Teams Challenge, it is not too late!

LEARN MORE ABOUT NSF FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES:

US Ignite will host a webinar on Monday. November 17th at 3pm (US-Eastern) that will provide insights into the application process and outline the benefits of being a GCTC participant.

Date: Monday, November 17, 2014
Time: 3:00PM Eastern
Log-in Information:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/765269669
Via Phone: Dial +1 (872) 240-3212
Access Code: 765-269-669

CONNECT YOUR PROJECT TO THE GLOBAL CITY TEAMS CHALLENGE:

We are very excited at the progress all the teams are making so far, and would love to see more Action Clusters stand up around the world. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions. We are here to help make your GCTC project a great success.

Thank you for your continued interest in the Global City Teams Challenge.

Joe Kochan
US Ignite

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