What a smarter, more connected world looks like


Singapore, September 17, 2016


IMAGINE zipping around in personal transit pods that traverse a network of underground passages.
 
Or having your household waste sucked by an underground network of waste tunnels, eliminating the need for rubbish collection trucks.
 
Such scenarios aren’t too far-fetched – they’re already a reality in a handful of "smart estates" around the world, places that tap on smart technologies to improve lives, address climate change and reduce traffic congestion:
 
Here’s a look at what goes on in these smart estates:
 
Yokohama, Japan
 
With a population of 3.7 million, Yokohama is the second-biggest city in Japan. Like any developed city, it faces challenges such as traffic congestion, pollution and growing energy consumption.
 
In 2010, the city government initiated the Yokohama smart city project, enabling residents in three districts to leverage alternative energy sources to reduce their carbon footprint and power consumption.
 
Across the city, there are nearly 250 locations where solar energy can be tapped, plus more than ten facilities for harnessing energy from the wind, biomass and hydropower. The electricity generated is stored in batteries.
 
Managing a plethora of energy sources, however, can be challenging, and that's where the city's Community Energy Management system (CEMS) steps in.
 
Besides distributing power generated from alternative energy sources across the city, the CEMS also integrates with Home Energy Management Systems in smart estates in the Isogo and Kohoku wards.
 

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Tapping solar power in Yokohama’s Home Energy Management System. Photo by CoCreatr / CC BY-SA 3.0
 
The project has been well-received by residents so far. With some 4,000 participating households, the Yokohama smart city project is one of the most successful of its kind in Japan, and will enable the city to reach its goal of slashing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
 
Songdo, South Korea
 
With one of the world's most-connected populations, South Korea is arguably the poster child of smart city developments.
 
In Songdo, located just 15 minutes away from Seoul's Incheon International Airport, you won't find waste trucks on the streets. That's because the city relies on a waste disposal system that sucks up all the rubbish from homes before sorting them out at waste collection points and processing centres.
 
Many of these services are the result of extensive planning by local authorities to turn Songdo into the world's first smart city, one that uses a pervasive network of sensors to monitor traffic, temperature, energy consumption – and even the flow of salt water at its central park.
 

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Songdo Central Park. Photo by Kim Dongjun / CC BY 2.0
 
In homes, telepresence, or high definition video conferencing, has become a way of life. Residents can sit back on their couches and meet with their friends, interview prospective domestic helpers, take fitness classes or consult their language tutors, helping to bridge physical distances and further alleviating traffic congestion.
 
Lyon, France
 
Few cities place as much emphasis as Lyon in optimising drinking water supply operations for their residents. In February 2015, the city located in east-central France embarked on a project to reduce leaks from its water pipes, and to allow residents to monitor their water consumption through the use of smart meters.
 
Dubbed Hublo, the project, which culminated in a central control centre, tracks every aspect of Lyon's drinking water supply operations – from ensuring water quality and network operations to customer feedback and engineering works. The centre also relies on a network of sensors to identify leaks. By 2018, over 5,500 sensors in 1,400km of water pipes would have been installed.
 
Another notable initiative in Lyon is a smart mobility app that delivers one-hour forecasts recommending the best routes and transportation options available – bikes, private cars, car share schemes, trains, electric cars and public transit systems – so residents can get to their destinations with minimal fuss.
 
Masdar, Abu Dhabi
 
In one corner of Abu Dhabi lies parked cars owned by visitors in Masdar, a part of the city where automobiles are prohibited. 
 
Instead, residents zip around in personal rapid transit pods, which are part of Masdar's ambitious plans to build an eco-city. The pods traverse underground passages on wheels that follow magnets buried in the ground. They avoid colliding with one another by using proximity sensors.

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Masdar personal rapid transit pod. Photo by Jan Seifert / CC BY 2.0
 
In homes, Masdar residents can expect to consume a quarter less power and 35 percent less water compared with the average household in Abu Dhabi, thanks to a new generation of smart homes equipped with energy management systems. Those who wish to rely entirely on alternative energy sources can do so with optional solar panels on the roofs.
 
Inspired by these next generation smart estates? Get in touch with us to learn how you can enable smarter living with our solutions for an urbanised future.