What is a smart city? Martin Powell, head of urban development at Siemens, tells CXOTalk how cities can be improved with data collection from sensors and other devices, measuring air quality and energy use to public transportation and e-mobility.

“You can take the data, you can combine these data sets, and you can look for ways of making the underlying infrastructure more efficient. Then you can just build applications on top which will help transport operators or energy utility operators run their infrastructure in a better way. Frankly, if cities don’t do this, they will be left behind,” Powell says. “In 30 years from now, we’re going to have to consume probably 20% of the energy we consume today. You’re going to have probably twice as many people moving around our cities with the same number of vehicles, so we have to really start thinking about how all of our infrastructures play together.”

Powell is the Head of Urban Development within Siemens Global Centre of Competence for Cities. This involves working with mayors and leaders providing advice and support to cities as they strive to meet tough economic, social and environmental targets and looking at economic and technical models of delivering solutions at scale. Powell co-authored ‘Our Urban Future’ and ‘Better Cities, Better Life’ plus the forthcoming book ‘The Smart City in the Digital Age.’

Transcript

Michael Krigsman: Smart cities are fascinating, but the term is vague. What are smart cities? I'm Michael Krigsman. I'm an industry analyst and the host of CXOTalk. I'm speaking with Martin Powell from Siemens, one of the world's leading experts on smart cities. Hey, Martin, how are you?

Martin Powell: Very good. How are you?

Michael Krigsman: What are you doing with smart cities?

Martin Powell: We're doing lots of things. We are running a global business around energy infrastructure, transport infrastructure, and building infrastructure. What we do is really focused very heavily on how you combine all of that into the city space.

Michael Krigsman: Why is the term "smart city" so vague?

Martin Powell: I think everybody has had a different view of what a smart city is. For us, it's very clear. We look at the city. We look at what can be improved. What we're trying to do is help cities do this in a very simple way.

Michael Krigsman: Give us an example.

Martin Powell: We produce an application that can forecast air quality five days in advance. The benefits of this today is that, five days in advance, if you know you're going to have a bad air day, you can begin to put tolling or low emission zones around schools or around public spaces and parks so that you can create clean air zones across the city.

Michael Krigsman: Can you give us an example of the types of data sources that you're using with this type of air quality prediction?

Martin Powell: We have sensors across the city. We can locate those anywhere we like very easy, very cheap. We then have an application that illustrates and shows you the forecast across the city.

Michael Krigsman: Smart city, the heart of it then, again, is the collection of data.

Martin Powell: Right.

Michael Krigsman: Then you combine the data and do the analytics in order to figure out connections that otherwise you couldn't have seen.

Martin Powell: Exactly. What you then do is create a city dashboard of applications. As a citizen, like I am here in New York, I can use the applications that are relevant to me to catch a cab, to take the subway, to take the right train, and to monitor my energy use. The applications become very personalized to each individual and each of those will be a different menu of options for every citizen of the city.

Michael Krigsman: Obviously, you have sensors, and you have devices. They're generating data, and the data flows into a platform. How do we use that data?

Martin Powell: We have a platform called MindSphere. It's an open source IoT platform. You can take the data, you can combine these data sets, and you can look for ways of making the underlying infrastructure more efficient. Then you can just build applications on top which will help transport operators or energy utility operators run their infrastructure in a better way. Frankly, if cities don't do this, they will be left behind.

Michael Krigsman: Why is inefficiency so important?

Martin Powell: In 30 years from now, we're going to have to consume probably 20% of the energy we consume today. You're going to have probably twice as many people moving around our cities with the same number of vehicles, so we have to really start thinking about how all of our infrastructures play together.

Michael Krigsman: When you introduce smart city elements, what are you doing differently?

Martin Powell: Cities now have to reach different targets than they've ever reached before. Most have quite aggressive targets to 2025. Some are even pledging carbon neutral by 2050. This is not far away. Our platform can very simply, within minutes, actually, you can connect a piece of infrastructure to a cloud-based platform.

Michael Krigsman: People working for the city, as well as citizens, can make various types of decisions--

Martin Powell: Right.

Michael Krigsman: --based on those new data streams.

Martin Powell: This is the way the smart city technology is evolving

Michael Krigsman: Smart cities are fascinating, but the term is vague. What are smart cities? I'm Michael Krigsman. I'm an industry analyst and the host of CXOTalk. I'm speaking with Martin Powell from Siemens, one of the world's leading experts on smart cities. Hey, Martin, how are you?

Martin Powell: Very good. How are you?

Michael Krigsman: What are you doing with smart cities?

Martin Powell: We're doing lots of things. We are running a global business around energy infrastructure, transport infrastructure, and building infrastructure. What we do is really focused very heavily on how you combine all of that into the city space.

Michael Krigsman: Why is the term "smart city" so vague?

Martin Powell: I think everybody has had a different view of what a smart city is. For us, it's very clear. We look at the city. We look at what can be improved. What we're trying to do is help cities do this in a very simple way.

Michael Krigsman: Give us an example.

Martin Powell: We produce an application that can forecast air quality five days in advance. The benefits of this today is that, five days in advance, if you know you're going to have a bad air day, you can begin to put tolling or low emission zones around schools or around public spaces and parks so that you can create clean air zones across the city.

Michael Krigsman: Can you give us an example of the types of data sources that you're using with this type of air quality prediction?

Martin Powell: We have sensors across the city. We can locate those anywhere we like very easy, very cheap. We then have an application that illustrates and shows you the forecast across the city.

Michael Krigsman: Smart city, the heart of it then, again, is the collection of data.

Martin Powell: Right.

Michael Krigsman: Then you combine the data and do the analytics in order to figure out connections that otherwise you couldn't have seen.

Martin Powell: Exactly. What you then do is create a city dashboard of applications. As a citizen, like I am here in New York, I can use the applications that are relevant to me to catch a cab, to take the subway, to take the right train, and to monitor my energy use. The applications become very personalized to each individual and each of those will be a different menu of options for every citizen of the city.

Michael Krigsman: Obviously, you have sensors, and you have devices. They're generating data, and the data flows into a platform. How do we use that data?

Martin Powell: We have a platform called MindSphere. It's an open source IoT platform. You can take the data, you can combine these data sets, and you can look for ways of making the underlying infrastructure more efficient. Then you can just build applications on top which will help transport operators or energy utility operators run their infrastructure in a better way. Frankly, if cities don't do this, they will be left behind.

Michael Krigsman: Why is inefficiency so important?

Martin Powell: In 30 years from now, we're going to have to consume probably 20% of the energy we consume today. You're going to have probably twice as many people moving around our cities with the same number of vehicles, so we have to really start thinking about how all of our infrastructures play together.

Michael Krigsman: When you introduce smart city elements, what are you doing differently?

Martin Powell: Cities now have to reach different targets than they've ever reached before. Most have quite aggressive targets to 2025. Some are even pledging carbon neutral by 2050. This is not far away. Our platform can very simply, within minutes, actually, you can connect a piece of infrastructure to a cloud-based platform.

Michael Krigsman: People working for the city, as well as citizens, can make various types of decisions--

Martin Powell: Right.

Michael Krigsman: --based on those new data streams.

Martin Powell: This is the way the smart city technology is evolving, and it will evolve completely differently in each and every city. The building blocks will be the same, but how you build up that application landscape will be very different.

Michael Krigsman: Some of that data will be pushed out to consumers, to subway riders.

Martin Powell: Right.

Michael Krigsman: Other data will be pushed to, say, management at Transport for London--

Martin Powell: Exactly. Exactly.

Michael Krigsman: --so that they can take certain steps. Everybody operating on that same set of that data.

Martin Powell: What we want to do with this smart city landscape is provide the city with more control over these decisions and control over this infrastructure.

Michael Krigsman: Talk to us about e-mobility, autonomous vehicles.

Martin Powell: Yeah, so e-mobility is a tremendous topic. We have a city performance tool which helps model different technology choices around the city and shows cities what impact they have on CO2 and also air quality emissions. We can even actually calculate how many jobs it creates from taking different technology choices.

We can also see what's going to happen, for example, in Los Angles. The electrical energy consumption will go up by 1500% by 2050 on the trajectory of electrification that they have in their transport fleets. No city is prepared for that level of increase. In the U.S., here, we're seeing the beginnings of an amazing transformation in the way electrification is going to alter the city and the way we think about moving our transport fleets.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. Martin Powell, thank you so much.

Martin Powell: Thank you very much, indeed. Thank you.