Recently the mayors of 20 Chinese cities (most with populations greater than my home state of Oregon) visited us at Intel to learn about our products to make homes and office buildings more energy efficient. And then in Mexico, I listened to the mayor of Mexico City given an impassioned speech about how to meet the energy and transportation needs of more than 21 million inhabitants sustainably – at a Green IT conference sponsored by the US Department of Commerce.These meetings provided great background for our panel discussion at West Coast Green on Technology’s Role in Developing the Integrated Cities Of Tomorrow. I was joined by Andres Carvallo from GridNet, Andy Tang from PG&E, Jason Wolf from Better Place, Clark Brockman from SERA Architects and Jeff Hammerlund from Portland State University to discuss the topic. Each of the panelists reacted to a visionary video Intel had created illustrating how technology might change our futures by showing a “day in the life”. Interestingly, most of the panelists felt that smart grid, intelligent transportation and automated building technologies are here or imminent. GridNet has tools today that integrate information from intelligent endpoints with other systems for a unified view appropriate for a utility. Their PolicyNet can be the Smart Grid Operating System for any smart device and any broadband technology PG&E will have 10 million smart meters installed by 2012 and views them as the foundation for a transition to the role of information provider. SERA Architects is at work on triple net zero (energy, water, waste water) buildings and Better Place is busily putting capabilities in place for EVs that select the optimum route for battery range & charging (running on an Intel Atom processor!). But there’s also still work to do to make the vision reality. Jeff Hammerlund told us of numerous examples, particularly in the transmission and distribution of renewable energy, where we need improvements in policy. And there’s still too little integration of smart grid advances with the built environment and the occupants of homes and office buildings. Clark told us of a situation where on sunny weekends in Portland, the feeder loop for their office building retrofit will not be able to absorb the 8-10 kilowatts of excess electricity from the solar panels on the empty office building. Andy explained to the audience that today’s grid was not designed for two-way flow of electricity and it will take time to upgrade the infrastructure. And Jason envisions many new capabilities for our cars as they become yet another communicating device and part of a social network that goes well beyond honking horns. Think of networking with other drivers to rate songs, podcasts and other drivers. Or to recommend favorite stores, vista points, restaurants and events using social networks. And alert others about traffic congestion, dangerous drivers and road debris. As he put it, today we think of texting as a distraction from driving. But maybe it should be the other way around – our driving is distracting us from texting! It was a great conversation – one the mayors would have found inspirational. Please check out the video and let us know what you think.
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