Smart Cities: It’s Not Science Fiction

In our daily lives, we encounter many devices that have the word “smart” in front of them—smart phone, smart thermostat, smart TV, smart car…and now smart cities. You may ask: What are smart cities? Do energy companies like SDG&E have a role in creating smart cities? What would it be like to live in a smart city?

A panel of experts took up these questions and more recently at a Smart Cities Forum, sponsored by SDG&E and organized by the South County Economic Development Council, in conjunction with the City of San Diego, City of Chula Vista, Cleantech San Diego and others.

What are smart cities?

There are many definitions of smart cities, but in general, they are smart because they use advanced technologies and data analytics to automate operations, pinpoint and solve problems, and improve efficiency and safety.

For example, in a smart city, you may walk down a street with LED streetlights that automatically brighten to improve safety or dim to save energy, depending on environmental conditions.

In a smart city, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations would be as plentiful and easy to find as gas stations are today. As we speak, SDG&E is working to make that vision a reality with plans to install thousands of new chargers in communities throughout San Diego to support the adoption of EVs.

In a smart city, you would use a smart phone app to report potholes and graffiti to City Hall and track where your complaint is in the queue.

In a smart city, if you or a loved one were to get hurt in a car accident, dispatchers would be able to send the closest police and fire truck to the rescue, because emergency response vehicles would be equipped with automatic location technology.

Everything mentioned above is either happening today or will soon, so smart cities are not science fiction.  

Do energy companies like SDG&E have a role in smart cities?

As part of our mission to become the cleanest, safest, and most reliable energy company in America, we are committed to making investments in clean energy, energy efficiency, and innovative technologies, all of which are pillars of smart cities. There is a lot of synergy between our mission and the smart city vision.

Today, we deliver more than 43 percent of energy from renewable sources – exceeding California’s aggressive renewable portfolio standards.

At the same time, we are helping to make buildings and homes more energy efficient. We provide free energy audits as well as consultations to businesses and local governments to help them implement best practices in energy efficiency and management to save money and reduce their carbon footprint.

What will it be like to live in a smart city?

You would have a higher quality of life in the form of cleaner air, energy-efficient buildings and homes that cost less to operate, more cost-effective government services made possible by data-driven solutions, and new green job opportunities, according to the panelists at the Smart Cities Forum.

Although smart cities are technologically advanced, not all jobs will require advanced degrees. Panelists predict that certificate programs will be the answer to create a skilled workforce to fill jobs such as solar installers and maintenance and operations technicians.

Click here to learn more about Smart Cities San Diego, a collaborative initiative that we proudly support.