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How Smart is NYC?

Recently, Dosha Pops sponsored SUMASA’s 5th Annual Sustainability Symposium. As we attribute our candy with being locally made and packaged in recyclable materials, they thought we would be a great addition to their event. SUMASA, the symposium organizer, is the Student Association for Columbia University’s Master of Science in Sustainability Management program at the Earth Institute. Panelists included representatives from government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and companies including the MTA, Green Sports Alliance, and Con Edison Company New York (ConEd NY).

This year’s symposium focused on who is responsible for driving sustainability for the Greater New York area. During the day-long event, we learned about the latest advancements in sustainability where “smart cities” were up for discussion.

What exactly is a smart city, you ask? A smart city is an urban city that integrates information and communication technology to achieve the following:

  • Improved performance and interactivity of urban services
  • Lowered cost and resources consumption
  • Improved contact between citizens and government

Smart cities advance sensor and real-time monitoring systems link technology to healthcare, property management, energy, transportation and traffic management, waste, water systems, law enforcement and community services. This technology allows a city to collect data that can be processed and analyzed, resulting in information that can be used to tackle inefficiencies. The city can adapt on the fly, see the big picture, and take action.

How does New York measure up to other cities trying to reach the goal of becoming a smart city? Happily, New York ranks among the top smart cities. What makes our city one of the smartest cities are the many great initiatives including communication services, a renewable energy program, smart grids, and sustainable transportation.

A smart city collaborates with private sector technology companies to improve their infrastructure enabling it to provide state-of-the-art services. New York’s collaboration with Qualcomm to create LinkNYC is a perfect example. LinkNYC is a first-of-its-kind communications network that will replace over 7,500 pay phones across the five boroughs.

The communications network aims to bring the fastest available Wi-Fi to millions of New York City residents, commuters, and tourists at no cost to city taxpayers. Funded through advertising, LinkNYC connection points will house state-of-the-art wireless technology, interactive systems and digital advertising displays, provide 24/7 free Internet access with up to gigabit speeds and easy access to 911 and 311. There are millions of people in New York City who don’t have access to high-speed Internet. LinkNYC helps fill this gap by making the fastest available Wi-Fi accessible for free on streets across the City.

The usage of alternative energy sources is another characteristic of being a smart city. Currently, New York State is changing how it generates and delivers energy. The NY-Sun solar program is part of the renewable energy program that is key to updating New York’s energy system creating a cleaner environment that is sustainable and self-sufficient.

As you can see, small-scale power production is the wave of the future. Big power plants will still exist but your power supply will be a mix of what you and your neighbors produce from home solar panels and what you buy from the electrical grid. We learned from Matthew Ketschke, VP of Distributed Resource Integration, ConEd NY that their smart grid that services the NYC area will eliminate the variable nature of solar power, support overall grid stability, and reliability by finding problems and fixing them faster all by using the most economic technologies, design, and operating approaches.

Smart grid technologies will help nine million New Yorkers use energy more efficiently, support alternative energy sources, and enable widespread adoption of electric vehicle charging.

In fact, NYC plans to create a clean fleet of environmental vehicles. Collette Ericsson, Chief Sustainability Officer, MTA-Bus informed us that they hope to have all of their bus fleets run on electric in 15 years! We’re on board with electric buses because they are quieter, more energy efficient and cleaner with zero emissions. Now that’s “smart transportation!”

We loved being part of such an important event that reflects our principles as a brand and contributing thought leader. Happy International Mother Earth Day (the official name of this recognized day).

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What a smart city means to you?

Across the city, your friend briskly walks to the bus stop. Glancing down at her phone, she realized it’s going to die. Lucky for her, LinkNYC is next to the bus stop. She’s able to use the free high-speed communication kiosk to charge her phone, check the bus schedule and call you to say that she is running late. When the bus arrives, she sits down thankful that her newly charged phone could be automatically scanned to pay for the ride. As the bus moves silently on electric power through the streets of NYC, she closes her eyes and meditates for a few minute before her stop.

Back at your apartment, you look out your translucent solar glass window to see your friend walking towards your building. Not wanting to keep her waiting, you grab your phone and swipe the app to shut off all the lights which are being powered by your windows. A few steps out the door, a phone beep alerts you to get your keys.

As you run outside to greet your friend, the Go Green Ride Prius that you ordered on your phone arrives. Unfortunately, you get stuck in traffic on your way to brunch. Arriving 20 minutes late, the restaurant reservationist informs you that they held your courtyard table. Through your restaurant reservation phone app, they could see that you were stuck in traffic. Both of you enjoy a great meal at this sustainable restaurant. Happy to enjoy a meal outside on a sunny day, it’s too bad you can’t linger. After you pay the bill with the swipe of your phone, both of you go to Yankee Stadium.

On the subway, you quickly pull up your Yankee tickets and check your phone’s battery life. Smiling, you remember that this new phone uses the same solar glass that is on your apartment building’s windows. While you were eating, your phone was powering up at the corner of the table.

At the stadium, the ticket agent scans your tickets on your phone. Now seated, you notice the day turns to dusk. Yankee Stadium’s lights turn on. Thanks to Green Sports Alliance projects, now Yankee Stadium shines a little brighter with LED lights. If the baseball game runs late into the evening, there’s no need to worry about a power outage. Yankee Stadium can be immediately routed to its microgrid thanks to ConEd’s smart grid technology. No power outages mean you can still buy that cold beer served in their recycled cups! [/sws_green_box]

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