Rapid urbanization is a global phenomenon. In 2008, for the first time in human history, there were more urban dwellers than rural, and the trends show that this is not going to be reversed. The United Nations estimates that by 2030, over 60% of the global population of will be living in “megacities” (10+ million), large (5-10 million), medium (1-5 million), and smaller cities and peri-urban communities, increasingly concentrated in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This fraction could rise to two thirds by 2050. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on Human Settlements, Infrastructure and Spatial planning states that the expansion of urban areas (urban centers and suburbs) is on average twice as fast as the urban population growth, and that the anticipated growth in the first three decades of the 21st Century will be larger than the cumulative urban expansion in all of human history.
With this rapid urbanization comes the increased demand for resources such as energy, water, and sanitation along with services such as education and health care. This emphasizes the necessity to use the resources efficiently or in a ‘smart’ way and the need to develop ‘smart’ cities to meet the needs of city residents. Responding to these needs, there are currently hundreds of smart city projects worldwide in both developed and developing countries. Examples abound, such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Beijing, Cafeidian, Kashiwa-noha, Konza, Lavasa, Masdar, San Francisco, Santander, Sant Cugat, Shanghai, Shenyang, Singapore (Smart Nation), Songdo, Tianjin, Wuxi and a 100 smart cities initiative recently launched by the Government of India. A smart city can contribute towards improved governance and efficient management of infrastructure such as water, energy, transportation and housing and to a higher quality of life.
EnGoPlanet, New York based clean tech start-up decided to enter Smart City market by focusing on two urban items that cities always had: Street Lights and Benches. This startup decided to completely revolutionize how cities provide public lighting and the use of benches. EnGoPlanet created Smart Solar LED Street Lights and Smart Solar Benches.
The idea behind Smart Solar LED Street lights and Smart Solar benches is simple: to create and improve energy resilience of our cities and communities, by installing numerous access points that will not be connected to the power grid. Besides the fact that Smart Solar LED Street Lights and Solar Benches would be powered by solar energy, it is also very important to mention that these units will provide many useful real time data via smart sensors that will be powered by WiFi connection.
Improvement in efficiency of Solar Energy and development of new solar panels with efficiency of more than 20%, in addition to sharp solar panel price decline, brought solar energy as the main source of renewable energy that can power Smart Cities of the future.
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