Urban Efficiency as the Cornerstone of Attractive Cities

Attractive-Cities(23/Feb/2014)

Cities are striving to improve their competitiveness on the world stage. Those that succeed in attracting business, investment, and qualified human resource talent will win out. However, most cities face daunting obstacles in their quest to achieve the desired level of attractiveness. In some cases, rapid growth is driving increased pollution and congestion. In other cases, tight budgets are leading to resource constraints and progress is limited.

An important key to success is efficiency. Life is better in an efficient city. Streets are safer, public services work well and the water and air are cleaner. An efficient city enables a sustainable community. How can efficiency be achieved? Schneider Electric, as a result of over 200 engagements with cities across the globe, can help cities become smarter and more efficient.

Each city is a unique entity. History, ambition, size, geography, political culture and economic asset base are all important differentiating factors. Yet each city relies on a common building block: an urban infrastructure that is based on an electrical grid, a gas distribution system, a water distribution system, public and private transportation, telecommunications networks, public services, buildings, etc.

In some African cities, the emphasis is on development of a basic urban infrastructure. In China and Southeast Asia, the need is to quickly expand the existing infrastructure to accommodate population growth. In Europe, North America and Japan, the priority is to upgrade existing infrastructures and develop new, innovative services. In addition, some cities have specialized needs, such as rebuilding infrastructure after a natural disaster (e.g., New York after Hurricane Sandy) or expanding parts of the infrastructure to host global events such as the Olympic Games. And other cities aspire to be seen as the most innovative, or green, or happy city in the world.

Cities are not about technology but about people. The everyday lives of people are supported by the urban infrastructure and related systems. However, efficient infrastructure is often invisible to citizens and businesses. Citizens fill their kitchen kettles every day without thinking of where the water comes from. Computers and cell phones are charged without consideration for how much the electricity costs. Trains and buses are expected to arrive at the same time every morning regardless of the weather. Infrastructure only becomes visible when systems fail and life is made more difficult. Citizens are quick to identify where the biggest problems lie. Is it traffic congestion? Frequent water or power outages? Poor management of unexpected weather events? Lack of coverage of the information and communications technology (ICT) networks? Delays in public transportation? Solving these pain-points means making the urban infrastructures efficient. Efficient infrastructures will deliver quick, visible, measurable improvements to people and a higher quality of life.

Read more at: http://www2.schneider-electric.com/documents/support/white-papers/smart-cities/urban-efficiency-as-the-cornerstone-of-attractive-cities.pdf

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