August 24, 2010
Imagine a city powered almost entirely by the sun. A city in which smart homes use energy only when it is needed, where driverless electric cars ferry passengers to work in low-emission buildings, and where healthcare, education, public safety and transport systems 'talk' to each other, getting people to hospital quicker and children to school on time. Could this city be in Asia?
American land developer Kitson & Partners is building what it calls the world’s most sustainable city, and wants to export the model, or at least bits of it, to Asia and elsewhere.
The 17,000-acre (70 square kilometers) Babcock Ranch in the 'sunshine state' of Florida is being transformed into a model for green living. Powered by a US$350 million solar energy network and connected to a smart grid, the city’s computing services will be provisioned centrally through the cloud.
The plan is for the city, which is the same size as Zhongli in Taiwan, to be run on what IBM, the lead technology partner for the project, calls a ‘system of systems’. IT networks for city services, businesses, transport, communications, water and energy will be interconnected and interoperable.
"A problem many local governments have is that one department has no idea what the other is doing," Sydney Kitson, CEO of Kitson & Partners, told FutureGov today (Tuesday 24th August). "There is no continuity. The future is one in which systems touch systems, and they are to all able to work together at once."
The systems are being developed using open standards to ensure that they can be updated easily in years to come. "We are working with IBM not just on how IT can work best for the city today, but how it can work in five and 10 years' time," said Kitson.
City administrators will work from a dashboard so that they can monitor all of the systems at once. The city will serve as a “living lab” for vendors and governments to test which new green technologies are used and enjoyed most by citizens and businesses.
"We're trying to figure out what works and what doesn't. In this way we can not only help cities starting from scratch, but brown field sites trying to solve old problems," Kitson added.