"GLOBE Revolves Around Smart Cities" by The Province


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"GLOBE Revolves Around Smart Cities" by The Province

  1. 1. Imagine a city where traffic lights “sense”thepresenceofpedestrians and adjust signal timings on their own. A city whose water system alerts you to leaks and whose buildings tell you if they’re occupied and how much energy they’re using. A city blanketed with free Wi-Fi, with apps that’ll guide drivers to vacantparkingspotsorprovidetour- istswithaconstantlyupdatedguide book on their smartphones. These are a few examples of what has become known as “smart city” technology,theglobaltrendofgath- eringdatafrommoderndevicesand sensorsandusingtheresultstoana- lyze and react intelligently to urban environmentsandactivitieswiththe goal of improving efficiency, sus- tainability and quality of life. Theseexamplesarenotprototypes for the future; some are already in use in cities around the world. “Theworldisn’twaiting,”saidJes- seBerst,chairmanoftheU.S.-based Smart Cities Council. “Every city is in a fight with every other city on the planet for jobs, investment and talent.” Younger generations are espe- cially willing to pack up and move, said Berst, and “they’re looking for a smart city where they have fast universal broadband access, where startups can access fibre optics, where energy is cheap and clean.” Berst is one of the speakers at GLOBE 2014, which is expected to drawabout10,000participantsfrom about60countriestotheVancouver Convention Centre from March 26 to March 28. The biennial gathering, part con- ference and part trade show, is all about what Vancouver-based GLOBE Foundation CEO John Wie- be describes as “the business of the environment.” Whileenvironmentalconcernsare often pitted against business and industry, Wiebe said the two can work toward a common goal. “Environmental problems are business opportunities,” he noted. Berst will be speaking as part of a series called Building Resilient Cit- ies, focused on the future of urban development in the face of climate change,populationgrowthandcon- gestion. “The world is urbanizing,” said Wiebe. “Cities need to be sustain- able and resilient and plan ahead ... Particularlywiththewaytechnology is moving so fast. You don’t want to pickatechnologythat10yearsfrom now you’re locked into that’s irrel- evant. How do you plan ahead and make it resilient?” Building a smart city is one of Sur- rey Mayor Dianne Watts’s goals for her fast-growing metropolis, which issettorolloutasmartcityprogram later this spring. “The city is in a unique position because we are building a city from thegroundup,”saidWatts,referring to the construction of new down- town core Surrey City Centre in northern Surrey. “We have a num- ber of great opportunities to really shape the city of the future.” Watts,whoisalsooneofthespeak- ers at the conference, cited the downtowncore’sdistrictenergysys- tem and a planned organic biofuel facility that will turn organic waste into natural gas as ways the city is aiming to reduce greenhouse gases and become smarter. The district energy system uses thermal energy to heat, cool and provide hot water for the new Sur- rey city hall, library, the SFU Surrey campus and RCMP E-division. Surrey’s efforts to take organic waste out of the waste stream have already reduced landfill garbage by 70 per cent, said Watts. Oncecompletedin2015,thebiofu- elfacilitywillprocessthewasteinto fuel to power the city’s fleet of gar- bagetrucks,creatingthefirstclosed- loop waste management system in North America. “The evolution of technology is occurring at lightning speed. There are so many things we can do bet- ter. We can be more efficient and streamlined and really engage the public in what we’re doing,” said Watts. According to a 2013 report by research firm Frost and Sullivan, thereisa$1.5-trillionmarketpoten- tial in smart cities by 2020. Berst concurs. “They’re one of the biggest economic opportunities,” he said. “It’s growing really rapidly and, on top of it, there’s money to be made.” GLOBE 2014 When: › March 26 to 28 Where:Vancouver Convention Centre Rates: Full conference $1,595, $995 for municipal/NGO mem- bers, $495 for students. One day rate $695. For more information: 2014.globeseries.com GLOBE revolves around smart cities Theme of Vancouver conference is creating efficient, sustainable urban centres Cheryl Chan SUNDAY REPORTER chchan@ theprovince.com twitter.com/ cherylchan In addition to the big players, ›this year’s conference also plans to highlight emerging or grow- ing B.C. companies that offer clean technology solutions.The 30 companies to be featured at the Powerhaus Pavilion include: Aquatic Informatics: AVan- couver-based company that develops software used to col- lect and analyze water data.The Water Survey of Canada and the U.S. Geological Survey are among its clients. Nomad Micro Homes: Pro- poses 100-square-foot homes, shipped in boxes and assem- bled on site, that push the enve- lope in the small-living move- ment. Urban Barn Foods: Grows green leafy vegetables in mod- ular containers indoors, allow- ing fresh produce regardless of season or climate and reduc- ing shipping times and spoil- age costs. Emerging B.C. companies Nomad Micro Homes’ 100-square- foot homes are shipped in boxes. Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, left, and the city’s district energy manager, Jason Owen, chat in the geothermal energy room in the basement of the new city hall, where thermal energy is used to heat, cool and provide water. Watts is among the speakers at GLOBE 2014. RIC ERNST / PNG SUNDAY, MARCH 23, 2014A12 | NEWS | THEPROVINCE.COM