How Communities Are Using Smart Building and Smart City Technology

Sue Marquette Poremba

Fowler Property Acquisition’s Savings with Sensor Data Analytics

Fowler Property Acquisition manages multiple properties’ landscape and watering needs across a number of different markets. “In order to maintain site aesthetics for rental and resale value, we needed an easy way to keep our landscapes in pristine condition while simultaneously decreasing operating expenses,” says Dave Seiler, EVP, Multi-family Division at Fowler Property Acquisition.

That’s why the company turned to HydroPoint’s WeatherTRAK smart water management platform, which not only provides landscape irrigation efficiency (lower water usage, elimination of water waste, and reduction of leaks and breaks), but also provides advanced monitoring and reporting to show effective savings and a projected ROI, using sensor data analytics. WeatherTRAK smart irrigation controllers are installed on 44 properties (a total of 107 controllers), with a goal of increasing that number to 60 properties by the end of 2016.

“We have a strategic business plan to invest in green initiatives where there is strong ROI,” says Seiler. “As we acquire new assets, HydroPoint's team completes an ROI analysis for us to determine which properties have the best paybacks.”

According to Seiler, WeatherTRAK platform’s Budget Manager provides accurate site performance and monitoring results. “This feature was particularly helpful for one property, which showed a financial savings of $22,000 in the first year, which in turn improved property values. In 2015, we saved over 54 million gallons of water, and project a savings of 91 million gallons in 2016,” he says.

City of Chula Vista Commits to Smart City Technology

The City of Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego are in the process of redeveloping more than 500 acres of land and water at the edge of the San Diego Bay, including a conference center, resort, hotel, residential units, retail, mixed use commercial, and several acres of community parks and pedestrian and bicycle paths.

The smart city project came about as a result of certain agreements that were put in place to guide redevelopment of the Bayfront area. An environmental settlement agreement was developed following 100-plus stakeholder meetings and input from dozens of individuals and organizations, according to Rick Azer, associate vice president, Smart Integrated Infrastructure with Black & Veatch, the firm hired to evaluate energy technologies, energy efficiency, and foundational smart city infrastructure. The Bayfront’s environmental settlement agreement requires the City and Port to achieve a minimum 50 percent reduction in energy use and building design, he added. “The City also wants to evaluate foundational infrastructure required to support the Bayfront’s innovative smart city applications. These applications will help the City use resources more efficiently, optimize delivery of City services, and increase community engagement.”

The City of Chula Vista established a budget to fund the development of a Smart City Roadmap.  Some of the projects included in the budget and overall plan are energy initiatives such as renewable, distributed generation, efficiency measures, and communication improvements that will focus on the wireless and fiber communications and network architectures to support current and future smart city applications.

“The project is progressing in real time,” says Azer. “So far the results are impressive in that they indicate the vast potential to incorporate energy and communication technologies into the Bayfront environment.”

Kansas City, Missouri’s Smart Sensor Data Analytics

Kansas City’s mayor, Sly James, is a proponent of using technology to drive jobs, better citizen experience, and innovation in the city. So city leaders worked with Cisco to come up with the initial Smart and Connected City (S+CC) solution. This includes City Infrastructure Management, which allows mobility enhancement through kiosks and apps, a development data portal, and a network platform to allow for ease of scalability.

“A major goal for this project is to create the ability to layer in even more applications in the future, and continue to bring in more partners to promote growth of the technology ecosystem already existing in Kansas City,” says Munish Khetrapal, managing director of Smart Cities and IoT at Cisco. One example of Kansas City’s smart city initiatives, Khetrapal pointed out, is Sensity and City Infrastructure Management -- outdoor street lights will be connected with sensors that then operate on a Cisco network, helping to create energy efficiencies for the city.

Also, Khetrapal added, with the upcoming installation of digital kiosks, residents and visitors will have the capability to access relevant, local data about nearby shops and restaurants updated to apps on users’ mobile devices.

Next up in the smart city project is the launch of a new streetcar line. “We expect initial services to be available with the opening of the new streetcar line, with the aim to complete the core framework in four to six months. Initial services include Wi-Fi and other smart city applications,” Khetrapal says.

Kansas City plans to invest nearly $3.8 million over the next 10 years, a total that is exceeded by $12 million in investments from other partnerships.

City of Westminster Saves with Mobile Smart Technology

The City of Westminster was looking for a way to do condition assessments through a field application for manholes in its wastewater system, explains John M. Nolte, infrastructure support services lead, City of Westminster, Public Works and Utilities.

“We worked with a vendor that built an application utilizing iOS to perform field inspections of the manholes that would relate back to the Accela Asset Management program,” he said. “This program allows the field worker to visually inspect the manhole for features such as size, material, whether it was buried during an asphalt repair, whether it is in working order and the overall condition. The worker can also record any observations noted such as whether parts of the manhole are broken or misaligned and can submit a service request to fix these issues.”

The initial budget included the cost of the application, but the city quickly saw a return on its investment, thanks to the amount of time employees saved and the lack of miscommunication and duplication of services. “Prior to the application, the mobile worker would fill out a form and bring it back into the office, where an administrative assistant would have to enter the data and create the service request,” Nolte stated. All in all, the technology has allowed the wastewater crew to work more efficiently and has cut down on internal paperwork.

TLC Network’s Real-Time Smart Technology

Cities and buildings aren’t the only places using smart technology. TLC Network brought the concept to its studios for a show called “Love at First Swipe.” The goal was to put the control of the show’s content in the hands of the host, live and in real time.

“The interface had to be easy for the host to use on the fly as he decided which images he wanted to highlight on the large 70-inch flat panel display that was part of the live set,” says Tim Dieffenbaugher, with On Controls, which provided the technology.

Dieffenbaugher explains that the On Controls tech team created thumbnails in the interface so the host could easily tap to create an “action,” flawlessly and lightning fast, so the show wouldn’t slow down. Also, the app required a minimal learning curve; the show’s host was using it in minutes. Another critical asset of a software-based smart technology solution is the capacity to change certain aspects of the interface on the fly to accommodate the needs of the host.

Twenty-two episodes of the show have already been filmed, with everyone declaring the technology to be a success.

Sue Marquette Poremba has been writing about network security since 2008. In addition to her coverage of security issues for IT Business Edge, her security articles have been published at various sites such as Forbes, Midsize Insider and Tom's Guide. You can reach Sue via Twitter: @sueporemba

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