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Black & Veatch Report: Utilities, Planning Critical to Success of Smart City Efforts

  |   Energy Efficiency, Smart Cities San Diego

Governments and utilities increasingly view smart city systems as transformational tools to boost resilience and quality of life in cities across the world. This is driven by expectations that smart city programs will produce greater efficiency across municipal functions. But, Cleantech San Diego member company Black & Veatch’s 2016 Strategic Directions: Smart City / Smart Utility report finds many cities are reluctant to begin the important work of smart city planning. Constrained budgets, lack of resources, and questions about how to roadmap and implement plans are viewed as top barriers. 


The 2016 Smart City / Smart Utility report also finds respondents have adopted a more balanced outlook towards the implementation of smart city models from one year ago. Nearly 60 percent of respondents see the widespread adoption of smart city models requiring six to 15 years. Public-private partnerships continue to be viewed as the primary funding approach for future smart city programs.


“Getting to ‘smart’ is often an evolution, not a revolution,” said Marty Travers, president of Black & Veatch’s telecom business. “Civic objectives of sustainable and reliable energy, water, and communications provide the mandate for smarter systems. Stakeholders at the utility, municipal, industrial, and consumer levels will need to work together to ensure cities move forward with their objectives.”


Developing smart infrastructure is not without its challenges. Cities and utility service providers face limited resources, environmental concerns, and growing populations that put pressure on infrastructure to do more with less. Long term vision/proactive governance and cost pressures were identified as the major forces driving the adoption of smart technologies and data analytics. 


“Utilities’ history of developing and using new technology to improve operations provides a great catalyst to new innovation for municipal leaders,” said Fred Ellermeier, chief operating officer of Black & Veatch’s Smart Integrated Infrastructure (SII) business. “There has been real success with long-term efficiency and sustainability efforts as utilities adapt to the changing economic and regulatory landscape. Further, the steps taken to manage aging workforces and changing resource needs can serve as primary research for reshaping how city departments operate.”


Other key findings include:

  • Improved efficiency/reduced costs and environmental /resource sustainability were the top drivers of smart city initiatives
  • Nearly half of respondents viewed high-speed data networks as the most important investment to begin a smart city program
  • Two-thirds of respondents view asset management as the top business area to improve from greater use of data analytics
  • Solar is the distributed energy resource that will most impact electric utilities


For more information and a free electronic copy of the 2016 Strategic Directions: Smart City / Smart Utility Report please visit www.bv.com/reports.  


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