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Strategic Directions: Smart Cities & Utilities Report

Black & Veatch just released 2018 Strategic Directions: Smart Cities & Utilities Report. The report explores the current landscape of smart city efforts, as 2017 marked an inflection point for initiatives around the world. The report finds that Big Data’s potential to improve community quality of life while making critical human infrastructure more efficient and sustainable is overcoming lingering fears about costs. Bold advances in data analytics, electric transportation and next-generation communications systems are propelling smart city development, while creative financing strategies challenge old notions about massive upfront investments.

The Black & Veatch 2018 Strategic Directions: Smart Cities & Utilities Report dives deeply into the current landscape of smart city efforts unfolding around the globe. With high-profile, ambitious projects in such cities as Kansas City, Seattle and San Diego, the authors see the evolution toward smarter infrastructure is possible and that obstacles, no matter how daunting,   can be conquered.

Report Background

This report is a compilation of data and analysis from an industry-wide survey. This survey was conducted online from 2 October 2017 through 31 October 2017. A total of 644 qualified utility,
municipal, commercial and community stakeholders completed a majority of the survey. As the survey was administered online, the amount of self-selection bias is unknown; therefore, no estimates of sampling error have been calculated.

The report shows that the large majority of respondents still see smart city projects as “transformational,’ with the ability to improve and redefine quality of life. Their data also show that individual efforts ‘” from “Safe City’ initiatives to the greater integration of distributed energy resources and the growing proliferation of electric vehicles ‘” continue to
advance. But are these individual efforts one-off projects, or are they part of larger, more integrated plans?

Smart Distribution System: Active Network. Source: Black & Veatch

The 2018 Strategic Directions: Smart Cities & Utilities Report details the obstacles that remain. Budget constraints are still a top hurdle; nearly two-thirds of municipalities point to funding issues as a major barrier to adopting smarter systems. Data collection systems are returning information en masse, but few cities and utilities truly understand how to manage, analyze and secure that data, leaving many feeling overwhelmed. Electric utilities ‘” well-positioned to play a prime role in any in smart city initiative ‘” are sometimes left playing support roles, or no role at all.

Last, the report includes  a guest opinion by Kate Garman, Smart City Coordinator for the city of
Seattle, and a contributed article by Proterra, a rising leader in the design and manufacture of zero-emissions electric buses.

  • Read the whole report here.