The city of Milwaukee has plans to join the emerging group of smart cities across the country, and the city has been working with a group of local companies to create a framework to make this happen.
“We’re not starting from scratch,” says Erick Shambarger, director of the city’s Environmental Collaboration Office.
Milwaukee is among 9 other cities that are working on a national project, named Envision: America, designed to share best practices and insights regarding “smart cities.”
In 2017, the city plans to coordinate with the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium to organize a working group to move this initiative forward, explains the consortium’s executive director, Alan Perlstein.
He goes on to say, “We have a challenge before us, to create a strategy and work plan to make Milwaukee a smarter and more sustainable city, and come up with a public-private partnership to make that happen.”
The consortium provides market research and sponsors academic projects that focus on growing business opportunities for one of Wisconsin’s largest industry clusters — companies that manage power, controls and energy.
As of now, the consortium’s focus is on developing market opportunities in the areas of energy efficiency and energy storage, along with distributed energy systems and microgrids.
Forecasts show cities need to be prepared
Interconnectedness and data analytics are topics that are also important. These envelop Rockwell Automation, the industrial automation company.
And the trending of “smart cities” in popular business buzzwords matches with the strategic and branding focus of the state’s biggest company, Johnson Controls.
Tyco and Johnson joined in a reverse merger back in September that relocated Johnson’s corporate headquarters to Ireland. Johnson Controls is already working on deploying projects in New York and London.
Explains the President, George Oliver, “In New York City, the 16-building, 26-acre Hudson Yards development is seeing Johnson Controls handle everything from fire and access control and video surveillance systems to energy management actions based on data analytics. Total revenue expected from this one project: $80 million.”
“We’ve been working with the city of London for a long time, providing solutions for public safety as well as efficient traffic flow for over 13 million residents and visitors per day. Think about the opportunity we have across the globe,” Oliver continues. “Everyone wants to be the leading smart city. We’ve already demonstrated this type of capability within London and have the opportunity to replicate this many times over.”
Forecasts show 66% of the world’s population living in cities by 2050, and energy use in buildings causes one-third of global emissions that are linked to global climate change. Investing in energy efficiency can provide savings, both in money and in emissions.
Technology, sustainability and energy efficiency go together, explains Erick Shambarger, director of the city’s Environmental Collaboration Office. He goes on to say that Milwaukee’s goal is to harness technology to support a world-class eco-city.
The city plans to also work with private-sector partners to embrace innovation that includes key topics like water and energy technologies.