The need to apply technology to solve real challenges in our communities is growing. Cities and utilities across the country are facing a broad range of pressing problems and exploring how to best navigate and utilize technology for a smarter, more sustainable and more resourceful city framework.  Underscoring that point, the Obama administration announced funding and support for smart city initiatives in the U.S. This move by the Office of Science and Technology demonstrates that we are ready to bridge from smart cities as a concept to smart cities as a reality.

It’s important that we begin moving beyond simply thinking about how to create smarter cities to actually forming new collaborations and leveraging new technologies to see how we can be more efficient and resourceful with all of our cities’ resources—we are doing this in some cities right now.

For example, Envision Charlotte, first introduced at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in Sept. 2010, is leading the way in creating an innovative, scalable and replicable smart city model in Charlotte, N.C., which captured the attention of the Obama administration and will become a national role model. Envision Charlotte focused on a two-mile area and tackled energy first and successfully reduced energy use by 16 percent. That’s real progress.

On the opposite side of the country, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its private sector partners are working together to test energy efficiency in the FLEXLAB™.  FLEXLAB evaluates the energy efficiency of major building systems, as an integrated system, under real world conditions. As one of the partners, Itron is supplying real-time monitoring and management of solar photovoltaic generation using the Itron Solar Gate prototype, Itron’s newest application for the ITRON RIVA™ platform.  As part of this effort, Itron’s technology is demonstrating how data collected through Itron’s gateway can be used to visualize regional solar production, down to the individual installation and the inverter level. That’s real innovation.

These are just a couple of examples of programs that started small but are having real, measurable impact on the smart cities movement. Connecting people and standards-based technology to achieve goals and then building on that success are things we can do today that will create a more resourceful tomorrow.

Join me and other smart city enthusiasts at Meeting of the Minds in Richmond, California this week.


Authored by Russ Vanos, SVP Strategy and Corporate Development at Itron


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Russ Vanos
Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Global Software, Services and Smart Cities - Itron
Russell E. Vanos was named vice president of sales and marketing for global software, services and smart cities in November 2015. In this role, Vanos is leading Itron's global software and services teams to enable true solution selling in collaboration with Itron's Electricity, Gas and Water business lines. He is also integral to the Internet of Things and smart cities initiatives for the company.

Vanos joined Itron in 1980 and has held various positions in sales, marketing and operations. Most recently, Vanos served as Itron's senior vice president of business development. Previously, Vanos served as Itron's vice president of marketing until 2011 and vice president and general manager, sales and marketing for energy until 2010.

Vanos is on the board of the Washington State University Energy Innovation Center and Envision Charlotte, is a member of Edison Electric Institute (EEI), sits on the Cisco Internet of Things Steering Committee, and is a founding member of the Smart Cities Council.