More of the world’s population lives in urban areas than ever before. As city populations grow, the demand for services increases and officials are tasked with creating smart, sustainable cities that offer high-quality living. This demand puts a strain on energy and water, which are foundational to a city’s prosperity and sustainability. This afternoon, we caught up with Bob Borzillo, the Director of Strategic Alliances at Itron, and Kathryn Willson, the Director of Cities Solutions at Microsoft, to discuss how energy, water and the smart grid are critical to creating smart cities.

During the breakout session, Bob noted that there are several factors that go into creating a smart city. In addition to visionary city leadership, there must be collaboration and cooperation – sharing information and technology between all stakeholders involved.

Reliable access to energy and water ensures communities around the world thrive. By leveraging existing networks and accessing information and data collected from various devices and sensors across a multitude of infrastructures, smart cities are able to manage their systems more efficiently and intelligently.

Itron has a long history of building smart energy and water systems and aims to convene city leaders, utilities, businesses and citizens to change the way we understand and optimize the world’s energy and water resources. We’ve collaborated with cities, including Baltimore, Houston, Detroit, and Bismarck, North Dakota, to provide industry-leading platforms that the needs of smarter cities now and into the future.

We partnered with the City of Bismarck, ND and Montana-Dakota Utilities Company (MDU) on a first of its kind public-private partnership where the two utilities are sharing a communications network already deployed with MDU which utilizes Itron managed services. Itron supplied Bismarck 21,000 water communication modules and associated collection technologies to improve operational efficiencies and streamline meter reading while the city utilizes Itron managed services already deployed with the MDU communications network.

Kathryn Willson discussed Microsoft CityNext, a global initiative with partners, including Itron, aimed at empowering city leadership to make cities safer, smarter, healthier and modern. Throughout her presentation, Kathryn noted the importance of leveraging infrastructure and networks already in place as well as the importance of innovating at a pace that works for each individual city – taking small measured steps to create a smart city.

Additionally, Kathryn stated that data is infrastructure and suggested that cities utilize analytics to take advantage of data already being collected to identify areas of performance improvement. As an example, Seattle has begun to utilize data around buildings, which consume a large portion of energy, to create a high-performance building district in the downtown area through the Seattle 2030 District program.

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