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A powerful equation: digital connections + collaboration = Smarter Cities, says Sharelynn Moore, Itron

Utilities with next generation IoT platforms in place are now looking beyond smart energy and water towards new initiatives

A powerful equation: digital connections + collaboration = Smarter Cities, says Sharelynn Moore, Itron

By 2020, experts predict that there will be more than 50 billion connected devices in the world. By 2050, cities are projected to add more than 2.5 billion new urban residents. The sum of this equation of growing demand for IoT-connected services and increasing urban populations amounts to significant challenges in managing energy, water and network connectivity resources.


This nexus is where a new, critical equation will come into play – the application of active digital connections with collaboration across a variety of public and private organizations and citizens. If knowledge and technology are applied intelligently, challenges can be turned into opportunities to improve livability, workability and sustainability in communities for decades to come.


A solid technology + collaboration foundation


As a first step, many smart cities aim to address immediate business needs, such as limited natural resources and growing energy demands, through technologies like advanced communication networks and data analytics. These first steps are often taken by essential service providers such as energy and water utilities, but that begs the question – what’s the next step?


Utilities with next generation IoT platforms in place are now looking beyond smart energy and water towards new initiatives that can further improve customer service and quality of life. This access to open network technologies, coupled with utilities’ customer-centric approach, is beginning to change the dynamic between traditionally siloed organizations. Conversations are now expanding beyond the walls of the utility and focusing on how to enhance and elevate the citizens’ experience as a whole.


With the right network foundation, it is now possible to share core expertise between a variety of organizations such as utilities, telecommunications, transportation and education to develop more tightly integrated relationships, better business outcomes and improved day-to-day experiences for citizens.


Smart is good, active is better


Every smart city is built on a network. Rapid advances in technology are putting increased focus on interoperability, adaptability and security of these networks. Itron has taken a step beyond “smart” with an Active Network solution, OpenWay® Riva, in which these attributes are prioritized by design. The result is a robust, unified platform capable of supporting smart energy, water, cities and much more.


The Active Network can continuously analyze data and decide to take action at the right place, at the right time. Whether this is at a central office or at the edge of the network, ecosystems of analytics-driven devices and applications work seamlessly together to produce more effective insights that can be shared across city departments, to other organizations and directly to citizens.


Meaningful outcomes, safer communities


When everything from utility smart meters, distribution sensors and control devices to urban infrastructure, such as streetlight controls, traffic sensors and EV charging stations is connected, analytics can help uncover insights that were not visible before.


Actively connected devices can work to simultaneously manage many functions for many different groups. For instance, a network of connected streetlights can optimize city energy usage with dimming controls, and can also be outfitted with air quality sensors to allow researchers to study urban environmental conditions, develop predictive health impact models and take preventative measures to improve the safety of citizens. None of this would be possible without a solid network foundation and strong cooperation among multiple stakeholders.


Looking to the future at the Smart City Expo World Congress


We were delighted to see this collaborative vision come to life on a global scale at the recent Smart City Expo World Congress event. As a long-time supporter of this event, Itron joined nearly 19,000 attendees in sharing research, best practices and common solutions that can be achieved through collaborative smart city initiatives.


Itron worked with key strategic partners such as Cisco, Microsoft CityNext and Cleantech San Diego to present our shared view that combining digital connections with strong collaborations will help shape smart energy, water and cities of the future.


Sharelynn Moore is Itron’s senior vice president of networked solutions. In this role, she is responsible for Itron’s networking platforms and smart cities strategy, globally. Previously, Moore served as vice president of global marketing and public affairs. She has also served in a variety of product and marketing-related roles during her more than 15 years at Itron.


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