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ssn-1119-11_0.jpg.crop_display Illustration courtesy of Silver Spring Networks.

Utilities and Smart Cities Join Forces

Utilities and urban leaders transform city energy profiles.

This is the second of a two-part series. Last week: The Smart City Common Denominator.

Some city officials and utility executives are already working together to help make their communities smarter and secure their future on the global economic stage.

Visionary Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, for instance, has focused on innovation as a way of attracting local businesses and investment to help win the talent war that has traditionally lured jobs away from the Midwest cities.

Eric Dresselhuys

Meanwhile, the electric energy provider serving Chicago, Commonwealth Edison, is contributing a $2.6 billion investment to modernize the state’s infrastructure and position Chicago as a smart city through the deployment of a multiple application IPv6 wireless network canopy.

By connecting their nearly 4 million energy customers, smart switches to help avoid outages in extreme weather and smart street lights to its platform, ComEd’s comprehensive program has demonstrated what the ‘utility of the future’ will look like, improving reliability, performance and customer satisfaction and delivering real economic advantage to Chicago and the surrounding area.

The smart meter program will result in customer savings of approximately  $170 million by 2018. Smart switches have prevented 3.3 million customer interruptions since 2012. And the smart street light project is expected to reduce energy and maintenance costs by up to 65 percent.

Not satisfied with this success, forward-thinking players like ComEd are already expanding their support for other critical infrastructure applications such as smart water, smart street lights, EV chargers, weather, disaster and air quality sensors, waste management sensors, smart parking, smart traffic controls, as time goes on.

Global leaders in San Francisco, Baltimore, Washington, San Antonio, Copenhagen, Bristol, Singapore and Miami, are pushing this new frontier, where a common wireless networking platform is already deployed, and are ready to expand their support to a full range of smart city applications.  

As utilities continue to manage smart grid infrastructure, and cities drive to remain competitive both regionally and on a global stage to attract new industries and talent, it is essential that the two forge a symbiotic relationship to drive their smart cities ambitions forward.

With the infrastructure already in place in many areas, existing assets that each own and operate could quickly be upgraded as the ‘next’ smart city application. We look forward to facilitating these conversations, and creating joint actionable plans to help both start their journey to smart cities today.

Eric Dresselhuys is Silver Spring Networks co-founder and executive vice president.


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