Smart cities must increase quality of life. The energy of knowledge took place in HSE

Smart cities development is an inevitable but time-consuming process that affects all infrastructure sectors, according to Steven Griffiths, the Global Energy Prize International Award Committee member, Senior Vice President for research and development at Khalifa University of Science and Technology (UAE).

On May 27, he gave a lecture at National Research University – Higher School of Economics. The expert spoke about global trends associated with smart cities construction and sustainable development technologies. The lecture was held as a part of the Energy of Knowledge Program by the Global Energy Association.

More than half of the world population lives in cities. According to Steven Griffiths, the transition from predominantly rural to urban settlements will continue over the next few decades. By 2050, about 70% of the population will live in cities. Between 1900 and 2015, the volume of resource extraction was increased by twelve times in order to support urban livelihoods, and it is expected to double by 2050. The problem of the urbanization process is megalopolises creating more and more new challenges that require lightning-fast solutions. Approximately two thirds of the global energy supply is consumed by cities, and they also produce more than 70% of all carbon emissions in the atmosphere. In 2012, cities were producing 1.3 billion tons of solid waste per year, and this figure is expected increase to 2.2 billion tons by 2025. Air pollution, lack of resources, traffic congestion and other city problems stimulated the solution searching process for these challenges. And this solution was the development of smart cities.

Smart city is one of the main components of the 4th industrial revolution, which is technologically based on information exchange between a large number of subsystems, where the opportunities provided by artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, Internet of things, virtual and augmented reality are used. In this model, the city analyzes and transmits large volume data streams, making its ecosystem more sustainable. However, a smart city should not only represent a municipality with a well-developed technological infrastructure, but also improve the overall quality of life of the population in each aspect. Therefore, smart city components include programs for energy demand management and renewable energy sources integration; systems for water consumption monitoring and using information technologies for public service provision, intelligent transport and logistics systems management.

According to the “Smart cities: Digital solutions for a more livable future” report from the McKinsey Global Institute, using the opportunities provided by smart cities will allow for a number of positive results, in particular, mortality rate reduced by 8-10%, speed of emergency response increased by 20-35%, average commute reduced by 15–20%, morbidity rate reduced by 8–15%, and greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 10–15%.

Having moved on to examples, Steven Griffiths spoke about smart cities development in the United Arab Emirates, as well as about research at Khalifa  University and its centers that cooperate with business entities at the stage of innovative technology launch. The expert also presented the UAE artificial intelligence center for climate monitoring and forecasting, unified management system for energy centers based on renewable energy, system for fighting skyscraper fires, and spoke about autonomous vehicle operation and wireless electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The Energy of Knowledge Program is a series of lectures given by the Global Energy Prize laureates and other prominent experts working in the field of energy. Its goal is to draw attention of young people to global energy issues and to inspire them to do research in this industry.


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May 2019