Home Energy and Environment Could Your City Meet the “Smarter Cities Challenge?”

Could Your City Meet the “Smarter Cities Challenge?”

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I agree with ArlNow, Arlington should definitely apply – if it hasn’t already – to the Smarter Cities Challenge. Already, Arlington is one of the smartest “cities” – actually, it’s a county, but close enough! – in America. As the EPA “National Award for Smart Growth Achievement” stated:

Arlington’s planning approach places dense, mixed-use, infill development at five Metro stations and tapers it down to residential neighborhoods. The result? Over 21 million square feet of office/retail/commercial space, 3,000+ hotel rooms, and 22,500 residential units creating vibrant “urban villages” where people live, shop,work and play using transit, pedestrian walkways, bicycles or cars.

Arlington County uses smart growth principles to generate residential, retail and recreational development around the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor of Metro stations. The corridor includes five stations: Rosslyn, Court House, Clarendon, Virginia Square, and Ballston. Arlington adopted a General Land Use Plan (GLUP) to concentrate dense, mixed-use development at the stations and developed sector plans to ensure that each station maintained a distinct sense of community. Incentive zoning is used to attract private sector transit-oriented development.

This is exactly the type of model that should be replicated as widely as possible, including in Virginia’s cities and urban areas. That is, it should be replicated if we want to break our addiction on foreign oil, deal with environmental problems like global warming and sprawl, and save ourselves a great deal of money on energy costs. But then again, why would we want to do any of those things when our current massive trade deficits and national security problems related to oil are so much fun! Not.

Among other things, the “Smarter Cities Challenge” involves creating a “smart grid”.

IBM is helping utilities add a layer of digital intelligence to their grids. These smart grids use sensors, meters, digital controls and analytic tools to automate, monitor and control the two-way flow of energy across operations-from power plant to plug. A power company can optimize grid performance, prevent outages, restore outages faster and allow consumers to manage energy usage right down to the individual networked appliance.

“Smart” grids can also incorporate new sustainable energies such as wind and solar generation, and interact locally with distributed power sources, or plug-in electric vehicles.

Making our cities smarter, in this way, is just one piece of how we need to deal with the enormous energy and environmental challenges facing us now, and in years to come.

Anyway, check out the video about IBM’s “Smarter Cities Challenge” program, and see if it might make sense in your city!