Category Archives: ICT4Green 2.0

Green Cloud presentation for the International Green IT Awareness Week 2012

This year I’m participating again as a Speaker in support of the International Green IT Awareness Week 2012 (IGITAW), in cooperation with “Proserpina Business Service and “Acquisti&Sostenibilità”.

International Green IT Awareness Week 2012

This annual conference is being held from 1st-7th June 2012. Foundation for IT Sustainability, the Australian not for profit initiative organiser, will be hosting a major virtual (online) conference during the week according to this calendar. IGITAW will engage a global network of green IT professionals, experts and organizations to present a series of engaging, pragmatic and thought-provoking presentations. The aim of the presentations will be to equip attendees with a range of skills and the knowledge necessary to take action on green IT, however big or small.

Speakers will be presenting through live video conferencing and webcasts; and will be addressing critical issues including the cultural change around green IT, showcasing case studies, discussing research, presenting on practical implementation and tips for implementing best practices for both home and business technology users.

The week of Free education and action was developed to encourage individuals and organizations to demand more from themselves and their partners, holding each other to account for our impact on the environment. The initiative also aims to encourage those individuals and organizations to bring together their CIO, IT Directors along with their business managers, CFO and COE’s to start the discussion around what their organization can do to green their IT infrastructure. You can freely register on IGITAW and browse other resources on Foundation for IT Sustainability

My presentation “Green Cloud: Can the cloud revolution help ICT sustainability, too?” went live on the IGITAW event website at 9:00am CEST on Wednesday 6th June 2012 (i.e. Rome & Central EU summer time) now its also available on http://youtu.be/ZckHh3iQY5M

Green Cloud

My LIVE Q&A Chat Session is scheduled for Wednesday June 6th 2012 – 3:00pm-3:30pm CEST. http://www.greenitweek.org/component/content/article/312

A pdf with the 40 slides and on-demand recording playback is available at http://greenitweek.org/images/stories/downloads/donatotoppeta.pdf

The Key Discussion Points of my “Green Cloud” speech are:

  • The cloud as a major revolution in the procurement of ICT services that can help sustainability, but not all the cloud providers are using clean energy sources as Greenpeace pointed out.
  • How some cloud computing best practices are addressing the energy efficiency and the other ICT sustainability issues?
  • Which ICT services from the cloud can provide more sustainable alternatives to companies and consumers?
  • Privacy, globalization, cyber risks, labour consolidation, and other hidden aspects of the cloud versus social responsibility.
  • A glimpse to the future driven by Internet of Things demand for massive cloud computing power.

My Presentation Synopsis is: “Cloud computing is a radical innovation not only for the ICT sector, but also for the organizations, business, social networks on a global scale. It can provide a terrific contribution to speed up the adoption of energy efficient data centers, matched with low power end-user devices. It is also enabling access to advanced computing resources to SME or less developed countries, changing the supply chain and e-waste collection of central ICT resources, providing new resources for scientific research in the environmental field. But at the same time, it creates new potential issues due to the fast growing power needed for cloud data centers, some providers are leveraging energy efficiency and renewable electric sources, while others are using electricity from cheap carbon or nuclear power plants. There are other aspects related to the shift in the power of a centralized, capital intensive model in delivering of services in a global scenario where laws, including those related to the privacy, are different according to the countries and ICT employment is moved from building and operating infrastructure to developing apps or creating new cloud enabled start-up. This section try to address some of the good, bad, and ugly of the cloud computing versus the vision of a sustainable model, that involves the ICT industry and the indirect contribution of ICT to a more sustainable world”

In my blog you can find these related previous posts (but much more updated content is in my speech):

The recording of my presentation made during the first edition of the Green IT Awareness Week 2010 “From ICT supply chain sustainability to ICT tools that can help to measure, certify, lower the impact of the supply chain for other products.” Is still available online.

I’ll appreciate your feedback!

Donato

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Smart Cities, not only new Research Papers but also exciting forecast!

The debate about SMART CITY is booming, both as an opportunity to drive a more sustainable economic development and an incubator of innovation and transformation that can merge the Virtual World of Mobile Services, Internet of Things and Social Networks with the Physical Infrastructures of Smart Building, Smart Utilities (i.e. electricity, heating, water, waste, transportation, and unified communication&collaboration infrastructure).

William J. Mitchell stated it many years ago “Our cities are fast transforming into artificial ecosystems of interconnected, interdependent intelligent digital organisms”, but now there is a growing agreement about leading advisors like Forrester, McKinsey, Pike Research, ABIResearch and investors, including public ones like the EU SETIS Roadmap (next figure), that the transformation of the metropolitan landscape is driven by the opportunity to embed intelligence into any component of our towns and connect them in real time merging physical world of objects, humans and virtual conversation and transactions.

EU SmartCity Roadmap

Let’s start with some examples of smart city investments:

· South Korea : Songdo (Incheon) privately developed city : $35-$42 billion, climbing, flagship of Cisco’s Smart + Connected communities, ubiquitous tele-presence

· India: Lavasa, IPO $437 million (planned), Hindustan Construction Company ,Wipro and Cisco; Kochi: 90K new jobs, Nano City,

· China is the country where the transformation is more quickly: 18+ cities have announced smart city plans. Ningbo:“smart city action plan” $6.4 billion in 5 years, 87 individual projects. premier Wen Jiabao speech @Wuxi: “Internet + Internet of Things = Wisdom of the Earth.” Plus: Caofeidian ($450 billions by 2030) Beijing, Shanghai, Wuxi, Chengdu, Wuhan, Kunming, Foshan, Shenzhen, Shenyang ($40 million), Hunan cluster (8 cities) and Guangzhou.

· United Arab Emirates: Masdar, $22 billions (Project by Norman Foster)

· Many other leading Smart Cities: King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC, Saudi Arabia),Malta, Skolkovo (Russia), PlanIT Valley (Portugal), Dubuque (US:Iowa), Holyoke (US:Massachusetts), San Diego (US: California), Amsterdam (NL EUR1,1 billion by 2012), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Singapore, Sydney, Yokohama & Fujisawa (Japan), Curitiba (BR).

Recently several analysts provided some exciting forecasts, for example:

· ABI Research on smart city : $8.1 billion spent in 2010, $39.5 billion by 2016. There are 102 active or completed smart city projects (EU 38 cities, NA 35, APAC 21, MEA 6)

· Pike Research on smart city : over $100 billion will be spent in next 10 years

· Lux Research: “Technologies for Future Cities: Integrating Efficiency, Sustainability, and Environmental Concerns”: by 2032, over $40 trillion should be required to retrofit and expand dated urban infrastructure in Brownfield cities, adding to investment for building new Greenfield efficient future cities like Masdar in Abu Dhabi: $22 billion and Songdo in Korea: $42 billion.

There are many consulting companies that have dedicated teams on smart cities that are publishing new reports, for example:

· McKinsey has previously stated that “Over the next 15 years, 600 cities will account for more than 60 percent of global GDP growth” and provided a tool “Global Cities of the future” for “Exploring the globe and view data on the dramatic urban growth expected by 2025”, in another research focused on How green are China’s cities?, and in “What Matters online” has identified the “What matters about Cities” as a core topic in which is involving some of the best thinkers from around the world in the discussion.

· Forrester launched a Smart City Tweet Jam and published many researches addressing the different segment of Smart City stakeholders, for example: Helping CIOs Understand “Smart City” Initiatives, Securing Smart City Infrastructure, Smart City Leaders Need Better Governance Tools.

Not for profits organization are also working seriously on this topic, for example:

· As part of the SMART2020 program The Climate Group has published, Information Marketplaces: The New Economics of Cities, that was written in partnership with, Arup, Accenture, Horizon and the University of Nottingham, in order to investigates how technology can be used in cities to meet the growing challenges of expanding urbanization.

· ICLEI, that published the Global Report “Financing the Resilient City, A white paper” seeks to build Sustainable Communities and Cities by enabling local governments achieve justice, security, resilience, viable economies, and healthy environments. The four initiatives are: Resilient Communities and Cities, Just and Peaceful Communities, Viable Local Economies, and Eco-efficient Cities. For an overview you can read the Resilient Cities profile brochure.

Smart City revolution is coming to Italy, too. Some early projects were already done in the past, for example European Smart Cities project compared Ancona (51th), Perugia (52th), Trento (45th) and Trieste (49th) with other early smart EU cities, more recently the Rete città intelligenti was promoted by ForumPA with IBM, including smaller towns effort like Monteveglio with Transition Town or those involved in the ZeroCO2 Communities project.

But it was the FP7 European Initiative on Smart Cities that has ignited many local Public administrations, such as Genova, Torino, Bari, Firenze, Milano, Parma, Palermo to launch new initiatives in order to take advantage of the opportunity of funding (10 000 – 12 000 M€ for a total of 40 000 M€ ). Obviously competition is hard since EU will co-finance only 25 large cities (>500 000 inhabitants) and 5 very large cities (>1 000 000 inhabitants) committing to implement the proposed demonstration, testing and deployment programmes in the 3 sectors – buildings, energy networks and transport and to go beyond the 2020 EU climate and energy targets.

There are also many other efforts in place, one of the most forward looking is at the heart of the design of the EXPO 2015 exhibition (6 month since may 1st 2015, 20 million visits planned), inheriting the legacy of EXPO 2010, whose theme “better city better life” was already connected to the development of sustainable smart cities . Digital Smart City Expo 2015 will be built and operated on state of the art technology, in order to propose a model for Smart Cities of the Future, in terms of infrastructure, operations and services to visitors/citizens. It will also “empower visitors to become food-aware citizens, combining groundbreaking technological services with environmental sustainability as a template for our future cities”.

Donato

More on Cloud Computing and Green ICT

In my previous post Cloud Computing and Green IT I’ve already referenced some interesting examples about the role of booming cloud services in getting an higher percentage of direct (total electricity use by data centers in 2010 of about 1.3% of all electricity use for the world, and 2% of all electricity use for the US according to this report by Analytics Press, author: Jonathan Koomey : “Growth in Data center electricity use 2005 to 2010”) and indirect (mobile devices, social networking) impact to GHG ICT emissions but also the opportunities of reducing both the cost and the environmental impact of internal, on premise, ICT by migrating services to the cloud. Since then I’ve added some comments to provide new interesting links, but everything is moving very quickly in the sky, since the cloud is the enabling technology for a radical change, driven by the power of social networking, globalization of services, the replacement of PC by mobile devices, the emerging role of the Internet of Things.

For example on Dec, 15th the: GreenPeace campaign for pushing Facebook to use clean energy has achieved a major milestone: Greenpeace and Facebook have announced that they will collaborate on the promotion of renewable energy, encourage major utilities to develop renewable energy generation, and develop programs that will enable Facebook users to save energy and engage their communities in clean energy decisions.

The campaign involved 700,000 online activists, which called on Facebook (setting a world record for the most comments on a single Facebook post in one day: 80,000) to power its data centers with clean energy instead of coal, leveraging social network to push changes. “This move sets an example for the industry to follow,” said Tzeporah Berman, Co-director of Greenpeace’s International Climate and Energy Program. “This shift to clean, safe energy choices will help fight global warming and ensure a stronger economy and healthier communities.”

Previously GreenPeace got Google to provide more with numbers on their annual energy use and their carbon footprint in the new section called “The Big Picture” of their Google Green site. Both Google and Facebook made also public statement about their choice to build new Data Centers for Cloud in locations where they can leverage the availability of renewable energy source and get almost free cooling:

· Google newest facility in Hamina, Finland, uses a unique seawater cooling system that requires very little electricity

· Facebook is to build its first data center outside the United States in the northern Swedish town of Lulea. It will be the northernmost of its size on Earth and will serve more than 800 million users. Lulea, because its cold climate would save energy for cooling, and it could use environmentally friendly (and low cost) hydro-power connected with a reliable grid.

IT will be interesting to see now how all the other companies involved in the GreenPeace campaign “Facebook: Unfriend Coal” based on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will react to the pressure from this NGO. Meanwhile GreenPeace keeps on updating the Guide to Greener Electronics, which has in the 6 years of its existence, now 17th edition, a scorecard for ranking 15 leading consumer electronics companies (mobile phone, TV and PC manufacturers) on policies and practices to reduce their impact on the climate, produce greener products, and make their operations more sustainable. It’s interesting to notice that HP is now “the top scoring company – strongest on sustainable operations and energy criteria but could improve on green products criteria”.

The greater opportunity for Cloud is not only to become more sustainable by itself, but in providing a more efficient and sustainable solution to customers. Jonathan Koomey is Consulting Professor at Stanford University and has researched and written extensively on electricity use by IT equipment. In a recent blog he gave four reasons why he thought cloud computing is (with few exceptions) significantly more energy efficient than using in-house data centres:

· It’s cheaper for large cloud computing providers to make efficiency improvements because they can spread the costs over a larger server base and can afford to be more focused on addressing energy use.

· With more users who are spread across different locations, computing loads are spread over the day, allowing for increased equipment utilisation. Cloud facilities for major vendors can be in the 30-40% utilization range, compared with 5-15% for in-house data centres.

· Cloud installations more often use virtualization and other techniques to separate the software from the physical servers, which allows for the greater optimisation of servers.

· Cloud computing sidesteps organizational issues, such as the problem of IT driving server purchases but facilities paying the electric bill. Cloud providers generally have one data centre budget and clear responsibilities assigned to one person.

Many other studies on this topic are being published: one of the most important is the study from CDP & Verdantix Cloud Computing – The IT Solution for the 21st Century help to understand that “large US companies that use cloud computing will be able to save $12.3bn in energy costs and 85.7 million metric tons of CO2 emissions annually by 2020. The energy savings are enough to power 5.7 million cars for one year. ”

There are also new studies sponsored by ICT companies to prove benefits of moving to cloud, for example:

· The Google study on Gmail is an example of how cloud-based services can be much more energy efficient (up to 80 times) than locally hosted services, helping businesses cut their electricity bills.

· WSP Environment & Energy, that has already done the study for Microsoft and Accenture, published the March 2011 research study on saving provided by the cloud based CRM supporting the statement that A salesforce.com transaction is on average 95% more carbon efficient than when processed in an equivalent on-premises deployment (64% more carbon efficient versus a private cloud deployment). The following is an example of daily saving claimed by Salesforce on http://www.salesforce.com/company/sustainability/impact.jsp (a calculator “Measure your impact” is also provided to help customers in evaluating how they can reduce their carbon emissions by moving their business to the cloud).

Please, let me know if you find this topic valuable by providing me some feedback, I should have much more information to share, and a presentation on this topic (sorry it’s in Italian) that I did at the IT Director Forum 2011 (Executive Circle) by Richmond Italia that is available to members of “Acquisti&Sostenibilità” on the portal in the studies section
Donato Toppeta

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Smart City from IBM and Innovatori JAM

IBM has presented yesterday, during the Smarter Cities Europe analyst briefing in Milan, a new, very interesting solution (including a Lecture by Colin Harrison, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor):  the IBM Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter Cities for building a more resilient society starting from sustainable smart cities using and holistic, ICT enabled approach. IBM Italy also showed a new demo room: “Major Smart Office” based on it (even if personally I was not too excited about the early version of the demo itself, because integration from some of best of breed projects missed a clear focus to the specific needs of a public local administration, as those that are common in Europe; probably the role based dashboard can be improved to make it more effective). This solution is a framework, delivered as part of the IBM Government Industry Framework , that  “synchronizes and analyzes efforts among sectors and agencies as they happen, giving decision makers consolidated information that helps them anticipate—rather than just react to—problems. By using these tested approaches, cities can manage growth and development in a sustainable way that minimizes disruptions and helps increase prosperity for everyone”.  It was derived insight from about 2,000 smarter cities projects around the world (20% in EU) in which IBM was involved or leaded (one of them “Bolzano Living safe”, presented the same day, related to health monitoring of elderly living alone in urban environment, was my favorite), aiming to enable the real-time communication and collaboration, reduce the impact of crisis situations and the overall cost of maintenance and repairs, minimize life-threatening issue and disruptions to public services and activities for citizens and city users. Various ICT components, such as Business Intelligence and prediction, where IBM has a strong reputation, and technologies from selected partners, such as sensors and smart grid and building can be selectively configured to specific needs (even if my first impression was that a monolithic “company ERP like” or “operating system architecture” approach might have influenced the design, that sounds to me more appealing for the new big smart cities of APAC). What makes it more interesting , in my opinion, is that the solution is made available also for IBM SmartCloud, with a subscription model that makes it attractive, in an CAPEX constrained public sector scenario, above all for medium size cities (or consortium of smaller towns). Obviously the core advantage of this SAAS solution  is related to the opportunity of quickly leveraging the outcomes of leading smart cities projects, the gateways to external data sources (including a rich partner ecosystem) and ability of IBM Global services to tune the system to the specific rules, issues and constraints of a local administration, ability to provide quick dynamic power and capability to specific planned events (such as Olympics games or world EXPO), or provide a new infrastructure after a major catastrophic event. You can find the IBM solution brief here . You can also browse IBM redbooks for Smarter Cities Series starting from: “A Foundation for Understanding IBM Smarter Cities”.

I also take the opportunity to invite you (or at least Italian speaking ones)  to the Innovatori Jam 2011 on September 14th-15th, a social Web 2.0 based event, that allow up to 20000 people to discuss and interact on 10 topics (forums), one of them is “Smart Cities” J. This Jam is organized by the” Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri – Agenzia per la diffusione delle tecnologie per l’innovazione” with IBM as technology partner and il Sole 24 ore as a media partner with the support of many “communities” including Think! For Innovation (a not for profit Innovation knowledge foundation) that I support, where you can find my related paper: The Smart City vision: How Innovation and ICT can build smart, “liveable”, sustainable cities.

Innovatori Jam 2011It will be very interesting to test this brainstorming tool in the Italian scenario, since one year ago in England, the Coventry City Council held a three-day IBM Jam (CovJam) to engage in substantial conversation with its citizens and stakeholders about the city’s future. Martin Reeves, Chief Executive of Coventry City Council, stated: “People know that we can’t change overnight, that we need to take baby steps to being a smarter city with low-cost, practical projects. I was really impressed with some straightforward, not very costly ideas that people would like us to implement over the next few years.”

The five  topics for CovJam were:

  • The Rebirth of Coventry – thinking of ways to improve the urban landscape of Coventry
  • Sent to Coventry – discussing what Coventry wants to be renowned for
  • Aspiring Coventry – looking at how to raise the expectations of Coventry and its citizens
  • Community Cohesion – examining how people in Coventry can get on with each other
  • Citizens in the Driving Seat – discussing how Coventry residents can have control of the city

JRC: a new Smart Grid report

From the JRC a very interesting news on smart grid:

“Brussels, 7 July 2011 – Intelligent electricity networks – smart grids – are a key component in the EU energy strategy, but substantial investments are needed to make them a reality. A new study from the European Commission’s inhouse science service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), presents a review of 219 smart grid projects Europewide. The vast majority of investments, amounting to about €5.5 billion, were made in old Member States (“EU15”), while new Member States (“EU12”) tend to lag behind. By providing a complete catalogue of the projects to date, the report showcases how smart grids can help integrate more renewables, accommodate electric vehicles, give more control to consumers over their energy consumption, avoid blackouts and restore power quickly when outages occur. “

More information and full report are available here

Ningbo a leading chinese example of smart city

Smart cities are booming in Asia as urbanization is moving at the same pace there.  21 megacities already account for 9% of the world urban population; 97% of the fastest growing cities are in growth markets, 8 in China, 11 in India.  The China’s urban population has expanded rapidly in recent years. McKinsey estimated in a report in 2009 that an additional 350 million people, more than the population of the U.S., would move to the cities by 2015. More than 220 Chinese cities will have more than one million people (there are currently only 35 in Europe). This help to explain why in China, as many as 18 cities (according to a Lux Research report) have announced smart city plans. These include some of the biggest cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, and a number of small to medium-size cities, such as Ningbo, Wuxi, Chengdu, Wuhan, Kunming, Foshan, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou.

Ningbo is a seaport city in Zhejiang province, not too far from Shanghai since 2008, when a 33 km cross-sea bridge was built, allowing travel to Shanghai in less than two hours, with a population of 7.6 million inhabitants. Last year Ningbo released its action plan for developing as a Smart City (2011-2015) and soon it will held the “China Smart City Technology & Applications Expo”. According to the smart city plan, RMB 40.7 billion  will be invested in projects in the next 5 years (12th Five-Year Plan period). The plan address Five “Speed Ups”: Speed up construction of international strong port, building a modern metropolis, industrial restructuring, building a Smart City, construction of ecological civilization and improvement of life quality. There are 87 individual projects covering logistics, manufacturing, public services, energy, social administration, traffic, healthcare, residential site management, and entertainment services. For example IBM Smart Logistics Center, Ningbo Branch Corporation of Tata of India, BT Cloud Computing Center, Shuguang Cloud Computing Center have come to settle in.  Recently 100 companies and research institutes in Ningbo have formed a huge industrial chain of Internet of Things. The IoT is to generate an output value of RMB 5000 billion in coming 10 years. Currently, the Ningbo companies of IoT are mainly engaged in application solutions, sensors, transmission and telecom, computing, etc. Last year, they generated income of 10 billion yuan (excluding those from operators). With the progress of the Smart City construction, a number of application demo projects featuring the IOT technology are being undertaken, such as smart logistics and smart health care. With regard to infrastructure, the city has had a high-speed intranet and internet that covers all the urban areas, with the outlet bandwidth of 580 G. There are 10.55 million mobile phone subscribers, 840,000 3G subscribers. 1.77 million households have had internet access. With the progress of the Wireless Ningbo project, the 3G-based wireless wideband network has reached every corner of the city. A new-generation wireless network with TD-LTE as the core is to be built soon.  Also Smart Grid is part of the effort: during the 12th “Five-year Plan” period, Ningbo will invest 16.5 billion into the construction of the power grid. In fact  the electricity consumption in Ningbo will maintain a relatively rapid growth, with an expected average annual growth rate of 9.8% in its maximum load and 9.0% in its power supply volume in 2015. Ningbo power grid will develop photovoltaic power and wind power projects, adding an energy capacity of 100Mw. It will strive to achieve a 10% coverage of clean energy including natural gas, wind power, solar energy and biomass energy, thus furthering optimizing the proportion of energy supply. Ningbo will speed up also the construction of rechargeable power stations, three of medium-size and 60 rechargeable piles in the first phase. An official from Ningbo Power Bureau stated that “The average time of power failure will be drop down, from current 45 minutes down to 5 minutes or so. Power failure notification and pre-control can be accurate to every household. People can make reasonable electricity plans, control home appliances, watch TV through power line and so on, all with the help of smart interactive system.”
“China Smart City Technology & Applications Expo” will open from September 2 to 4 in Ningbo, it is China’s first and largest expo on the subject of smart city, and it will consist of the exhibitions and forums. The 21,000 m2 exhibition area has been fully booked by over 300 companies. Information from the organizing committee shows that 70% of the exhibiting companies are engaged in IT business, including 12 world top 500 companies, such as HP, IBM, Microsoft, NEC, HUAWEI, SIEMENS, etc, 4.4 billion purchasing funds by government. It is estimated that the fair is to attract 35000 visitors, including 10,000 professionals and 25000 common people.

The official government site states: “The city has made great progress in major projects for smart city construction. A meeting held on July 8th 2011 stated that the schemes for three pilot programs have been completed, which are about smart logistics, smart health care and smart social management. Some breakthroughs have been made and a large number of major projects have been settled so far; a number of other programs have been started, such as smart transport, smart Chengguan, smart manufacturing, trade, energy use, home services, etc.”

Senseable lab: from the Copenhagen wheel to PURBA

Most of you should remember of the Green Wheel, by MIT Mobile Experience Lab and Smart Cities Group, a smart mobility system in a wheel, that collects energy while riding the bicycle and releases it when needed.  Additionally it provides remote monitoring. The Copenhagen wheel (presented at COP15 Copenhagen) is a further evolution, developed by the peer MIT SENSEable Lab in cooperation with Ducati. It transforms ordinary bicycles into hybrid e-bikes that also function as mobile sensing units. In fact it can map pollution levels (carbon monoxide, NOx), noise, ambient temperature and relative humidity, traffic congestion, and document road conditions in real-time. Controlled through a smart phone, the Copenhagen Wheel it allows to lock the bike, change gears and select how much the motor assists you, capture your effort level and those of your surroundings if you agree to share those information with your friend community, or city administration, that will get granular data in real life traffic condition.

New applications keep on being developed by the Senseable Lab, directed by Carlo Ratti, in order to build a real-time city: “ The increasing deployment of sensors and hand-held electronics in recent years is allowing a new approach to the study of the built  environment. The way we describe and understand cities is being radically transformed – alongside the tools we use to design them and impact on their physical structure.” The lab has produced: 200+ scientific papers, 35+ real-world projects, 25+ exhibitions, 100+ conference keynote addresses, numerous awards and representation in the global media.

The Senseable Lab is defined by the anthropologist Luca Simone as a “transdisciplinary” research group that “studies the interface between cities, people and technologies and investigates how the ubiquity of digital devices and the telecommunications networks that augment our cities are impacting urban living”.

Recently the MIT Senseable Lab organized  the First Workshop on Pervasive Urban Applications (PURBA) that took  place in conjunction with the 9th International Conference on Pervasive Computing in San Francisco, CA, USA on June 12-15, 2011, bringing  together researchers and practitioners to discuss and explore the research challenges and opportunities in applying the pervasive computing paradigm to urban spaces. It promoted “multi-disciplinary contributions that reveal interesting aspects about urban life and exploit the digital traces to create novel urban applications that benefit citizens, urban planners, and policy makers”. In my understanding the proposed scenario was the following:

  • Digital networks and operations has produced an unprecedented wealth of information about URBAN LIFE.
  • Handheld electronics, location devices, telecommunications networks, and a wide assortment of tags and sensors are constantly producing a rich stream of data reflecting various aspects of urban life.
  • For urban planners and designers, these accumulations of digital traces are valuable sources of data in capturing the pulse of the city in an astonishing degree of temporal and spatial detail.
  • We move toward achieving an augmented, fine-grained understanding of how the city functions – socially, economically and yes, even psychologically (“the city as a social archipelago”).

Many Papers were submitted to the PURBA best student paper award, the following ones were elected for final selection:

ICT companies focused on smart city effort (CISCO CUD)

Several ICT companies (e.g. IBM: Smart Planet, Accenture: Intelligent City Network, CISCO: Connected Urban Development, Ericsson Smart City, etc.) and research institutions (e.g. MIT: Smart City SENSEable lab,  Terreform One, etc.) already offer services and solutions’ components that can help to build more livable, sustainable cities by innovative ICT usage. It is not easy to evaluate how much are they applicable and compatible to specific scenarios and constraints, even if in many towns such as Boulder or Amsterdam many ICT companies are working together with utilities, universities and other organization to provide integrated solutions. Since I recently had the opportunity to listen to the presentation “Cisco Smart Connected Communities: Evoluzione dei Servizi al Cittadino” by Fabio Florio, I’ll start to present my understanding of CISCO CUD vision, that is strongly connected to the role of networking and internet based services in driving changes (“If it’s Connected to the Internet, it can be Greener.”)

CISCO: Connected Urban Development

San Francisco, Amsterdam, Seoul, Birmingham, Hamburg, Lisbon, and Madrid as member of Connected Urban Development (CUD) cities, aim to demonstrate how to reduce carbon emissions, delivering innovative, sustainable models for urban planning and economic development. ICT, above all high connectivity and collaboration, allow introducing fundamental improvements in the efficiency of urban infrastructure. The CUD effort is supported by Cisco, aligned with the “Clinton Global Climate Initiative” since 2006, with the contribution of MIT Mobile Experience Lab. It envisions a future “where the intelligent use of networking architectures can transform society not only by boosting productivity and spurring economic growth, but also by supporting environmental sustainability and enhancing the quality of life in urban environments”.

The CUD scope refers to the following areas:                                                                  

  •  Increasing efficiency of traffic flow, service offerings and manageability of public transportation, also to avoid that urban mobility problems can rapidly turn into an urban mobility crisis
  • Establishing new distributed delivery models for city services to its residents
  • Creating sustainable real estate models which incorporate energy efficiency and new work environment models (remote worker, collaboration, shared space)
  • Enabling new resident services to self-manage carbon footprint

Success metrics defined for CUD include:

  • Decrease of Transport Demand (in terms of traffic volume)
  • Increase of Transport Speed (in terms of traffic speed and throughput)
  • Reduced tonnage of emissions: CO2, NOx, PM10
  • Increased efficiency of public transport: timeliness, safety, utilization rates
  • Increased energy efficiency of buildings and of energy grids

The CUD blueprint is based on a broadband infrastructure which enables new solutions for Work, Mobility, Energy and Buildings. For example the Cisco EnergyWise relies on the intelligence of the network to communicate messages that measure, report and control energy across the enterprise/building. It specifically focus on these goals: 1) It allows companies to be environmentally friendly by saving energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; 2) It make clear to customers that they can reduce Energy consumption cost and understands why this is important in today‘s world climate; 3) It support Government directives around the globe that are requiring companies to be greener and increase sustainability.

The CUD approach is based on these principles:

  1. ICT directly contributes both to energy usage and CO2 reduction.
  2. Deploying urban pervasive, broadband-based, ICT applications and services improves energy efficiencies in Connected and Sustainable cities: Built Environment, Mobility, Work and Energy. It can enable radically innovative practices in the areas of urban form and planning, energy policy, new working practices, and new lifestyles.
  3. ICT and broadband connectivity have become enablers of combined, citywide urban policy, and of previously disconnected (siloed government initiatives) operational programs.

For example the” Connected Public Transit” addresses the following features: Current transit conditions (crowding and delays); trip optimization to minimize time, financial and environmental costs; transit vehicle arrival; park & ride information; mapping and guidance to nearby public transport stops/stations, and destinations; integrated payment systems of public transit (including multiple agencies), taxi, and related services, able to accommodate variable rates and special discounts; on-board wireless services, for  work and entertainment stations, similar to first-class airline services; transit priority in traffic signal controls; vehicle performance monitoring, such as driving profile, on-time reliability, passenger crowding.The CUD toolkit, that is intended to structure and institutionalize the outputs of CUD projects, is one of the outcomes. It actually contains the Executive Presentation, Project Recap / Whitepaper, Proof of Concept / prototype, Technical Architecture, Value Case and Other Tools for these efforts:

  • MOBILITY: Smart mobility and eco-footprint monitoring, The Connected Bus: San Francisco; Personal Travel Assistant: Seoul and Amsterdam; Smart Transportation Pricing: Seoul; Intelligent traffic management: Hamburg
  • WORK: Smart Work Centers: Amsterdam (108 SWC in 2011 www.w-smartwork.nl );
  • BUILDINGS AND ENERGY: Urban Energy Management: Madrid; Smart Urban Energy for Schools: Lisbon; Connected and sustainable work and living solutions: Amsterdam EnergyWise buildings and ICT: Birmingham                                   
  • ICT AND SOCIO-ECONOMICS: Urban EcoMap: San Francisco
  •  MIT Research Projects: Urban Development, Personal Travel Assistant, Connected Home, Sustainable Transportation

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition and its tool

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is a new interesting initiative, started in 2010, that involve multiple stakeholders, related to the fashion system, that share a common belief and good practices in Sustainability: Adidas, Arvind Mills, C&A, Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce, Environmental Defense Fund, Esprit, Esquel, Gap Inc., H&M, HanesBrands, Intradeco, JC Penney, Kohl’s Department Stores, Lenzing, Levi Strauss & Co., LF USA, a division of Li & Fung Limited, Marks & Spencer, Mountain Equipment Co-op, New Balance, Nike, Nordstrom, Otto Group, Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, Pentland Brands, REI, TAL Apparel, Target, Timberland, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Verité, VF Corp, and Walmart (they plan to invite other companies to join). It is an is an industry-wide, international group of leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, non-governmental organizations, academic experts and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition “vision and purpose are based on a set of shared beliefs that:

  • The environmental and social challenges around the global apparel supply system affect the entire industry.
  • These challenges reflect systemic issues which no individual company can solve on their own.
  • Pre-competitive collaboration can accelerate improvement in environmental and social performance for the industry as a whole and reduce cost for individual companies.
  • This collaboration enables individual companies to focus more resources on product and process innovation.
  • Credible, practical, and universal standards and tools for defining and measuring environmental and social performance support the individual interests of all stakeholders.”

Desired Environmental and Social Outcomes includes: Water Use & Quality, Energy/Greenhouse Gas, Waste, Land Use, Air emissions, Chemicals/Toxicity and Social/Labor.

In order to measure the progress achieved the coalition is developing a set of tools. The first one is Version 1.0 of the Sustainable Apparel Index, it is now only a  primarily “indicator” , but it will evolve towards a metrics-based tool.  It enables companies to evaluate material types, products, facilities and processes based on a range of environmental and social practices and product design choices through the entire apparel life cycle. It was based largely on the Nike’s Apparel Environmental Design Tool and the Outdoor Industry Association’s Eco Index. The participating organization hopes that by collaborating to create more uniform, broadly defined tools for measuring sustainability, and for collective actions to drive innovations in products, will help to raise awareness in consumers and apparel industry.

Sustainable Apparel Index tool structure (version 1)

As the Guardian stated in “Clothing industry giants launch sustainable apparel coalition”: “Should the Sustainable Apparel Coalition succeed, its focus on improving on supply chain performance could become a model for other industries. More efficient, energy-saving, and transparent supply chains not only reduce costs, but lessen the human costs that put too high of a price tag on what are often cheap clothes.

Cheers, Donato

The birth of THINK! : The Innovation Knowledge Foundation

On October, 14th 2010 was announced the birth of “THINK! – The Innovation Knowledge Foundation“, an independent, international no-profit foundation whose mission is to spread the culture of innovation and promote the use of digital technologies as a means of favoring economic growth, the quality of life and human development in general.

Under the guidance of Roberto Masiero, in his new role as President of THINK!, the Foundation intends to make use of the knowledge of innovation as factor of growth, productivity and development. In order to achieve these ambitious objectives THINK! will draw on the collaboration of an authoritative Scientific Committee of prestigious economic, financial, industrial and academic specialists, and the contributions of an extended network of international affiliated experts.

The THINK! Foundation has the following aims:

  • to establish a research institute or “think tank” to collect, process, share and spread information concerning the use of ICT, digital and science-driven technologies in order to overcome the digital divide and promote innovation processes, human development and the quality of life in an era characterised by the central importance of energy issues and envirenmental sustainability;
  • to support public leaders and decision makers by helping them to understand and stimulate the new economy of innovation through the discussion and analysis of case studies of the use of ICT, digital and other new technologies to favour economic growth and the competitiveness of companies, industries and economies as a whole;
  • to promote and support no-profit programmes and initiatives based on the use of information and digital technologies with the aim of promoting economic growth and human development in mature, emerging and developing countries.

The Foundation will undertake a wide range of research activities that will give rise to a series of papers intended to clarify the broad scenarios of change and (more pragmatically) support public and private decision makers in selecting the innovation processes to be introduced into companies and other organizations, as well as into local and national government policies.

I authored one of them : The Smart City vision: How Innovation and ICT can build smart, “liveable”, sustainable cities.

You are all invited to contribute to this effort!