Solutions on BABLE are expert-curated proposals for efficiently implementable Smart City projects. Each Solution contains a list of benefits and a list of functions needed to achieve these benefits, as well as information on the business model, driving factors, relevant legal regulations, advices from experts and links to relevant use-cases and products.
Intelligent and Connected Public Space
An intelligent and connected public space collects data in public areas and displays or reacts on the data. The data can be securely transferred via Wi-Fi or other similar technologies to be, i.e. combined with a central system. The data that is collected with sensors can be data on the air quality, the movements and people in the public space or safety relevant information. With this, particular importance should be paid to privacy rights, i.e. by using non-intrusive sensors. Often implemented sub-services are Wi-Fi-hotspots or guidance beacons for blind navigation. Public displays can i.e. provide access to local maps, a store and service registry or multimodal route-planning. These mandatory and additional functions of the intelligent and connected public space are shown below. The sensors and technologies used to realise the different functionalities can be attached to, i.e. Smart Lighting poles and make use of the underlying backbone infrastructure.
Virtual Power Plant
The concept of Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) overturns the more traditional idea of relying on centralised (often CO2-emitting) power plants for predictable and reliable power output. As more and more small and large independent power producers enter the scene, solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources (RES) have penetrated the electricity grid all across Europe, opening the transition to a clean and sustainable energy infrastructure. However, the integration of these Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) into the grid is posing a number of challenges related to transmission congestion and/or voltage and frequency stabilities; renewables, in particular, are creating reliability issues due to their uncertain and intermittent nature. This clean power has disrupted the energy grid and created the need for new models and solutions for their integration. A VPP aggregates many dispersed and independent DERs into a single operating agent that acts like a traditional power plant, with a similar sizable generation capacity, allowing it to participate in power system markets (both wholesale and retail) or sell services to the operator. A VPP thus represents a flexible portfolio of DERs with the aim of enabling smaller power system agents (i.e., consumers, producers, prosumers, or any mix thereof) to engage in electricity markets and provide services to the grid. Virtual Power Plant (IRENA, 2019) VPPs can help the integration of RES by providing both demand- and supply-side flexibility services to the main grid. VPPs can aggregate demand-response resources or energy storage units responding to grid requirements (demand-side flexibility), as well as incorporate fast-response units such as capacitors and batteries, along with CHP and biogas power plants to optimise power generation (supply-side flexibility). Through these two types of core services, VPPs can provide tangible benefits such as (IRENA, 2019): Supporting grid operation through various ancillary services Demand-side management and real-time load shifting based on price signals to reduce peak demand – making a business case for deferred investments in transmission and distribution grid infrastructure Balancing services and providing ramping requirements via optimisation platforms to compensate for fluctuations of any variable generation output from RES Increasing local flexibility at distribution system level, if there is a regional local market for flexibility in place Decreasing the marginal cost of power By reducing or shifting load during peak demand to avoid the use of large (fossil-fuel) power plants to meet a small amount of electricity demand at an elevated cost, or By completely replacing the peak power plant with the dispatch of the aggregated DERs and charged batteries Optimising investment in power system infrastructure By saving on the costs of new capacity additions and/or grid reinforcement with the provision of real-time operational reserve capacity from already connected DERs, while providing them with additional revenues through their participation in ancillary markets when needed. Problems to be solved Raising grid stability and reliability Increasing demand for integration of renewable sources Restricted market Increasing & changing energy demand Increasing costs & emissions from current energy supply Demand for greater grid resilience and flexibility
Urban Emergency Service
The city infrastructure must be able to respond to various challenges including catastrophic events, natural disasters, terrors attacks and further cases of emergencies. For that purpose, an integrated emergency handling system is required that can close the gap between emergency centres and the citizens. On the one hand, this system should be able to acquire information from and around citizens based, for instance, on social networks or various sensors distributed in the vicinity in question. On the other hand, the system can provide means for pushing notifications and relevant information to citizens that are potentially in danger.
Urban Data Platform
Urban data platforms build the basis for a multitude of applications in a Smart City. An urban data platform intends to collate, map, store and integrate data from different stakeholders of the Smart City ecosystem (e.g. public entities, businesses, citizens or other organisations). The data can be offered to other service providers, can be analysed or visualised, and published. Such an urban data platform can be the basis for a lot of smart city solutions as it offers a stable and flexible base for data-driven solutions. An urban data platform can constitute a holistic system, connecting various services around a city by bringing all data together. A multisided-market approach can support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as data is available without any high initial investments. The main concern when it comes to urban data platforms is security, privacy and transparency, which places special focus on the responsibility and the reliability of the operator of the platform.
Urban Air Quality Platform
For the last decade, Urban Air Quality Platforms (UAQPs) have been an important tool for collecting, processing and visualising hyperlocal data about urban emissions. Similarly, UAQPs are generally open for access providing transparency and air pollution awareness. Data can be provisioned either by dispersed sensors across the city or through satellite imagery. The sensors collecting the data can be installed either by an operator (e.g. the municipality) or on private property. This solution intends to solve the following problems: Siloed AQ data Unaccounted emissions Restricted data access Misidentification of emission sources
The average city driver spends 6-14 minutes looking for a parking place, and in large cities, the time increases to 18-20 minutes. It is estimated that this time spent searching for a parking lot represents 30% of congestion on city streets. A Smart Parking System makes use of sensors or other technologies to determine the availability of parking lots in cities. This information can be shared with drivers, reducing the time spent looking for parking and thus reducing traffic congestion. Moreover, smart parking can be used to improve the usability at the parking place itself. Parking fees are already part of the cities’ revenues. Implementing a Smart Parking System enables cities to control their traffic better, apply different tariffs according to different areas and hours, and to use per minute rates - instead of flat rates - thanks to new billing models. ( Shoup, 2007; Shoup, 2008 ; IBM, 2011 ) Smart Parking systems and their functions can have several effects that can support the aims of the municipality or the users. The following diagram shows how the different aspects are intertwined. Essential benefits of Smart Parking ( Anke, Scholle, 2016, translated ) Problems to be solved Bad air quality Congestion Underused parking space Park offenders Accidents/ collisions
Smart streetlights enable the reduction of running expenses associated with public lighting by delivering several value-added services to cities and citizens. The solution allows the dynamic adaption of the brightness of streetlights according to the season-dependent day and night cycle duration or even to a combination of this and the noise level. A good lighting system increases both actual and perceived security. Furthermore, directed light may improve the well-being of residents. An underlying connectivity backbone connects the poles (i.e. fibre-optic backbone) and serves to deliver digital services via integrated street lights. Within this solution, the lighting poles can be used to provide other functionalities (i.e. Intelligent and Connected Public Space – Wi-Fi, navigation aids for visually impaired people or displays) through the attachment of additional sensors or signalling devices.
Smart Home Video Communication
Especially in less densely populated areas or for less mobile people a video conference system can ease the access to lots of advice, education and government or legal services. All these services can be used without leaving the house when a smart home video communication system is successfully implemented. Possible advantages of a video conference system include enabling authentication of the participating parties, more readily accessible public services for people with disabilities, avoiding long waiting queues in public buildings, and more comprehensive care than can be provided via telephone. Once installed, this system may also be used for educational purposes, to communicate with family or to enable surveillance of one’s property.
Mobility Hubs are places of connectivity where different modes of transportation - from walking to rapid transit – come together seamlessly. One of the key components of mobility hubs is the presence of a large area of influence, which is achieved from the concentration of employment, housing, shopping and/or recreation centres. This integrated suite of mobility services is intended to meet first-last mile needs of transit users through shared and sustainable transportation. It offers different options to users and ensures optimal connectivity. The most beneficial intermodal mobility hubs are mainly implemented close to existing mobility junctions such as train stations, as well as other transit stations. Other elements of mobility hubs include dedicated curb spaces for taxis, energy generation from solar cells, electric vehicle charging stations, interactive kiosks, and amenities like cafes or plazas to create an active space that is welcoming during layovers. Problems to be solved Accessibility Carbon emissions Safety & Security Congestion Convenience Wayfinding
Last Mile Delivery
Due to the growing share of on-line shopping nowadays, an additional sales channel for companies has come up. Internet sales have become an essential part of retail business in recent years. Consequently, the volume of traffic caused by delivery services has increased rapidly with the success of e-commerce. Likewise, the delivery market slowly transforms from a mainly B2B market to a B2C one (e.g. Drone delivery). The final track of the supply chain – home delivery to a customer – is called “Last Mile”. The “Last-Mile” of a delivery poses significant logisticalcal challenges, especially regarding the increasing customer expectations, such as "same day delivery" or "exact time delivery" which leads to the decreasing time available for planning. Furthermore, the “Last mile” has a huge effect in traffic of commercial vehicles in cities. The Last Mile Delivery (LMD) accounts for a major part of the costs involved in a delivery. A research of Capgemini Research Institute showed that the costs of LMD account 41 % of the overall supply chain costs ( Jacobs, Warner et al., p. 20 ). Figure 1 - Distribution of overall supply chain costs ( Jacobs, Warner et al., p. 20 ) In the reality of LMD, challenges like a small or single order compared to deliveries to stores, many constantly changing geographically dispersed locations (compare deliveries to stores) etc. must be faced. The goal is to improve the efficiency of LMD, to minimise costs incurred, improve safety to minimise the impact on traffic as well as minimise the environmental impact. To improve the quality of life in the affected areas, the LMD should become environmentally friendly and emission-free (noise and emissions), the volume of traffic should be reduced to prevent illegal parking, collisions and stressful congestions. Congestion, air quality, collisions and illegal parking are all ills affecting the quality of life of citizens. The accessibility of inner-city locations is becoming more and more limited for cars and trucks in contrast delivery services are growing especially in these dense inner-city areas. There are several solutions to solve these problems that reduce pollutant emissions, lower the impact on traffic, improve safety and make LMD more efficient.
Energy Efficient Retrofitting of Buildings
Improving energy efficiency of the building stock in a city needs strategic and long-term thinking. Complex ownership structures, market barriers, diversity of building typologies, consumer preferences and multiple stakeholders involved in the construction and retrofitting of a building makes energy efficient buildings a challenge even with the advanced technological developments. However, to realise positive energy districts and reach the ambitious climate goals set forward by cities, zero and positive energy buildings play a critical role. A variety of initiatives worldwide have proven that while a complex challenge, Energy Efficient Retrofitting of buildings is possible and has huge impact towards greener and more resilient cities. Problems to be solved Energy loss in buildings Use of inadequate materials Energy poverty Transition from fossil fuels Make technologies available Energy demand in buildings
Digital Twins are used increasingly to support urban planning processes – by visualizing urban data, show-casing future scenarios and many other use-cases. In general Digital twins are virtual representations of an object, process or system that can be used to run simulations to optimise efficiency and examine what-if scenarios. The technology has been primarily used for manufacturing to test products (e.g. as of 2018, GE had 1.2 million digital twins for 300,000 types of assets) but is quickly expanding to buildings, supply chains and entire cities as digital planning technology advances ( Castro, 2019 ). Integrating data from the internet of things (IoT) with the advanced modelling capabilities of technologies such as geospatial information systems (GIS), virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) and building information modelling (BIM) allows governments and industry to create predictions of how systems will react and respond to real-world data. Creating a feedback loop between the virtual and real worlds results in substantial improvements of processes and impacts, with time-saving and financial benefits. The concept of digital twins is not new; for example, NASA has been running simulations of spacecraft for decades, but the rapid growth of connected sensors and endpoints with the rise of the IoT and advancements in artificial intelligence has opened up a myriad of possibilities for the planning and analysis tool. Potential uses for digital twins are still being imagined. Uses for cities currently include using digital twins to plan transportation systems, prepare for natural disasters and identify optimal locations to install solar panels. Future uses could include predicting how a disease will spread and informing optimal lockdowns and hospital reservations or using the tool to facilitate collaborations with other cities that have shared problems and mutual goals.
Microgrids are smaller-scale versions of a local centralised electricity system - a.k.a. a macrogrid - and are equipped with control capabilities that allow them to operate in tandem with the local macrogrid, or autonomously on a stand-alone basis. As such, microgrids have existed for decades powering industrial sites, military bases, campuses and critical facilities such as hospitals, primarily using fossil-fuel-fired Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and reciprocating engine generators. However, many cities are now interested in microgrid systems that can better integrate renewable generation resources and various energy loads, serve multiple users and/or meet environmental or emergency responses. Microgrids can bring several benefits to the environment, utility operators and customers; benefits that are especially important for cities as they strive to create smart, safe, and liveable communities with thriving economies. Considering local priorities and challenges, municipalities have three good reasons to pursue microgrids: Microgrids contribute to reducing GHG emissions and help cities meet their climate goals by: Fostering the integration and aggregation of renewable energy sources, thanks to their ability to balance energy production and usage within the microgrid through distributed, controllable generation and storage (e.g. CHP, thermal storage or fuel cells). Harnessing energy that would otherwise be wasted (e.g. electricity transmission losses or waste heat from energy production), thanks to the proximity of where energy is generated and where it is needed. Microgrids can strengthen and increase resilience of the central grid by: Increasing the system-wide reliability and efficiency, as they help reduce or manage energy demand whilst alleviating grid congestion, thanks to their ability to isolate and take over local energy demand autonomously. Reducing grid vulnerability by coping with impending power outages and safeguarding against potential cyberattacks on energy infrastructure. Sustaining energy service during emergencies or natural disasters, especially for critical public services, and helping the macrogrid recover from system outages. Microgrids can better serve the community and enhance local economy by: Keeping electricity tariffs under control thanks to more efficient and cost-effective grid management, greater use of valuable wasted energy and/or reduced investments in additional energy capacity or transmission infrastructure. Favouring the competitiveness of municipalities, as these can offer low energy costs and elevated levels of reliability that may attract new business and jobs, especially industries highly sensitive to power outages (e.g. data centres, research facilities, etc.). Ensuring power reliability for isolated or hard-to-serve communities by providing clean, reliable, and resilient energy in a cost-effective way. Constituting an ideal way to integrate renewable resources on the community level and allow for customer participation in the electricity enterprise. Problems to be solved Energy costs Carbon emissions Energy losses Unreliable energy supply Increasing energy demandy Ageing, weak and absent infrastructure