Andrew Snowhite, Mili Mujumdar, and Fahd Al Rasheed are presenting IS07 – Smart Cities and Buildings on October 4th at 2:00 p.m. PT at the Greenbuild 2016 Conference. Here are three questions that I hope this Greenbuild session addresses:

Greenbuild Session - 2016

  1. How can building owners, designers, and builders better engage with the technology firms who are driving smart technology?
  2. What motivated the best-in-class smart cities to embrace technology?
  3. What are some lessons that have been learned in established smarter cities that can be applied to sustainability?

Smart cities and buildings may have once been a sci-fi notion, but now they are integral to thriving, resilient, and sustainable communities. I am excited to see this topic discussed among the green building industry’s best at this year’s Greenbuild. Intelligently designed cities and buildings are a natural progression for society due to the ever increasing influence of technology on all aspects of our lives.

We regularly see smart technology examples such as the integration of BMS/BCS and EMCS into buildings, and we use tools such as BuildPulse to get real-time building performance information. These technologies accelerate efficiency upgrades and communicate real, intelligent data that we can use to make better decisions about how the building is operated and maintained. This same notion is the idea behind smart cities, just on a much larger scale.

While technologies such as sensors, controllers and output devices are extremely important and are a step in the right direction, the building industry must go beyond performance efficiency.

Think bigger – think infrastructure BIG!

Imagine a city where services and information are structured around technological interactivity allowing data and feedback to flow freely between municipal departments and its citizens.

This communication and data exchange will result in better informed citizens and leaders. Strengthening our innovation will enhance our ability to make better decisions around resource management, economic investments, program development, and community emergencies.

Technology is not a barrier to achieving smart cities – technology companies like GE, Microsoft, Google, and IBM are spending heavily on the IT infrastructure and have created programs to support smarter cities; not to mention the many companies out there that create systems and hardware on the building level.

The real barrier is governance and cultural norms, which must shift in order to create a truly transactional relationship between our government and its citizens. Just as the best businesses in the world must evolve to face a changing market, our government must evolve to deliver advanced services and programs.

We need proper governance from leaders to enable us to innovate our infrastructure. We must push leaders toward initiatives that support this transformation. Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Stockholm teach us lessons, and are great at demonstrating what CAN work for the United States.

Some cities in the US have begun adopting smart approaches as corrective action to systemic issues within their communities. For example, smart street lighting and traffic management in New York is helping to lower crime rates and moderate commuting jams. And on the West Coast in Santa Cruz, Calif., local authorities can predict when and where police presence is needed by analyzing historical crime data.

As smart city trail blazers continue to speak out to advocate for greater interconnectivity and transparency, we will see smart cities take a firmer hold.

For more information on this subject and to see some of these trail blazers in person, I encourage you to attend Smart Cities Week held Sept. 27-29th here in Washington, DC, and the Smart Cities and Building session at Greenbuild. And please share your thoughts with us in comments or on Twitter, @PaladinoandCo.

Hawkins Thomas

Hawkins Thomas, LEED AP BD+C, is a Senior Project Manager at Paladino and Company.

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