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NARUC Panel Explores Consumer Benefits of Smart Grid

WASHINGTON, February 14, 2011 – A panel of representatives from T-Mobile, Echeleon and state and federal governments discussed the value of smart grid for consumers on Saturday at the The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners yearly convention and explained how the smart grid will be able to bring both consumers and utilities increased efficiencies.

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WASHINGTON, February 14, 2011 – A panel of representatives from T-Mobile, Echeleon and state and federal governments discussed the value of smart grid for consumers on Saturday at the The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners yearly convention and explained how the smart grid will be able to bring both consumers and utilities increased efficiencies.

The smart grid integrates the electrical network with a telecommunications network. By allowing different parts of the grid to “talk” to each other, consumers will be better able to control their electricity usage and utilities will have increased control to manage the demand.

Commissioner Sherman Elliott from the Illinois Commerce Commission emphasized the need for collaboration between electricity providers and telecommunications firms in the building of the smart grid. The current grid contains a great amount of waste, he said – nearly half of the energy currently generated by power plants lays idle in transmission lines.  That unused electricity could easily power the entire fleet of electric vehicles currently on the road.

The current electrical grid is outdated, said Elliott; a smart grid would relay information to smart meters and appliances that will provide consumers with the information necessary to make smarter decisions about their usage. A smart grid would also allow for demand-based pricing that would lower the cost of electricity during low demand periods.

Nick Sinai, Senior Policy Advisor from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, espoused the need for consumers to be able to obtain their usage and pricing data from the grid. He agreed with Elliot that the inevitable evolution of the smart grid will occur sooner rather than later, but it needs both federal and state support.

Sinai highlighted that once the grid is active, it will spur large-scale innovation in the realm of energy monitoring. Current meters present users with minimal data. Smart meters paired with applications could potentially be used to not only measure usage but also limit it or time heavy usage activities such as laundry. Jim Andrus from Echelon, a smart grid technology company, stated that currently a number of new companies have entered the market including Cisco and IBM which plan to produce consumer products for the smart grid.

Garnet Hanly of T-Mobile encouraged the utility commissioners to work with commercial providers of existing telecommunications networks rather than build new ones. She said that by using an existing network, consumers would not only gain the advantages of the smart grid but also better telecommunications services since the networks would overlap. Sherman, while supportive of the notion of using commercial networks, emphasized the fact that any partnership would have to ensure that utility data be given priority on the network.

Based upon comments made by the commissioners, they seemed to be supportive of the idea smart grid but voiced some concerns about cyber security issues and potential privacy concerns. The issues of cyber security and privacy will be addressed by NARUC in more depth in a panel on Tuesday. Overall,  the commissioners seemed to believe  that the smart grid will not only benefit consumers and utilities economically, but allow for more efficient energy usage which will have a positive impact on the environment.

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for BroadbandBreakfast.com since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

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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