Smart Cities Manage their Resources Rationally

14 july 2016

Smart cities are changing the world. Where are these changes taking us, how do we manage them and how do we make use of them, taking into account the realities of the modern world? Those were the issues discussed at the plenary session of the Urban Technologies forum held as part of the business program at Innoprom-2016. The discussion was moderated by Analytical Center expert Evgeny Gasho. “Is there a generally accepted understanding about what is a smart city? Do we translate the term ‘smart city’ correctly?” were the questions he asked to set the main topic of the discussion.

“Smart city means quality management of the infrastructure to improve the living conditions for the residents,” believes Internet Initiatives Development Fund expert Kirill Varlamov. He believes smart city technologies should be introduced more actively, because today there are just 3-4 projects in the whole of Russia that are attempting to introduce smart city solutions in the housing utilities sector. Participants in the process need an open platform where they could discuss the details of the process and that they could use as a single decision making point, which should expedite the passing of a law on private public partnership, Mr. Varlamov is sure.

“We have got to count money when we are introducing smart city initiatives,” Mr. Varlamov continued. - “In the utilities sector, for example, there are niches with very short payback periods. But on the whole, we need smart infrastructure that needs to be created when new properties are built and that must meet the safety standards and requirements.”

Both the number of cities and their population are rising very fast and for smart cities, rational management of resources is paramount, Ericsson Vice President for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Vinai Dar backed him up. A number of technologies have already proven useful for modern cities such as smart phones, cloud services, communications technologies. And this list is constantly getting larger. “Smart cities are an integral part of the sustainable development process and there are very many stakeholders here,” Mr. Dar believes.

Artem Sedov, a member of the expert council of the Russian Construction Ministry, believes that the housing utilities are the foundation of smart cities. In his opinions, the demands that people place on the city are based on 5 senses: the sight, the hearing, the smell etc. 30% of these demands can be met by technology while the other 70% are met by performing the traditional urban maintenance functions like cleaning the streets, maintaining a good environment etc.

“The main problem faced by cities is not an ageing population but rather an ageing infrastructure and so the existential question here is do we fix it or do we replace it?” said CISCO representative Mathew Smith. But when it comes to meddling in urban infrastructure systems, the issue of safety invariably comes up which must be taken into account, the expert stressed. Today, as the young are playing an ever increasing role in making the world go round, we need to look for new models of urban development, Mr. Smith believes, as today’s youth cannot imagine life without new technologies. 

Konstantin Kovalev also believes that energy efficiency must be borne in mind as an important aspect in the development of smart cities. New technologies used in construction and resource management focus on more efficient use of resources so in the future some standard consumption rates found in the current construction regulations could be changed, for example water consumption per resident. This would mean that the water supply capacity could be reduced and narrower pipes could be used etc.

New technologies and new approaches to urban development mean that new cities could even be built in the desert. Daniel Dendr talked about a Russian industrial zone design for Egypt in which the ‘smart city approach’ has been used from the get-go. The direction the streets are oriented in was picked on the basis of the direction the local winds tend to blow in; the windows were made in the north west walls, while buildings were designed in a way that creates natural shade. And that is just a small portion of the tricks the designers of the new desert city have made use of.

A special round table was organized by the Analytical Center at Innoprom-2016 to discuss energy efficiency, the link between cities and industry and their impact on socio-economic growth.