Smart Cities, Climate Change, and Sustainability

Edge computing for a change

In our previous week’s update, we mentioned that we were a sponsor for a climate tech event called VERGE.

The urgency of the climate crisis is accelerating — and so, too, is the opportunity to build a clean economy. We have a once-in-a-lifetime moment to transform society and create sustainable, just and resilient systems.

Our team learned a lot attending the conference and had an incredible opportunity to connect with key leaders in the space of tech intersecting with climate change. It was refreshing to see the enthusiasm to solve some hard problems using tech.

It is clear to us the role edge computing and AI will play in getting us there.

We wanted to share a few videos from the conference that we feel are relevant to the topic of edge computing and AI.

Pulling Carbon from Atmosphere

Direct Air Capture (DAC) can play a critical part in climate strategies if the technology scales and costs fall.

Healthy, Clean Buildings for the 21st Century

How to balance comfort, health, and emissions goals in commercial spaces.

Using Data to Build Smarter Cities

Pioneering programs in Norway share their people-first approach to smart cities.

You can watch the entire series here, but this is a great segue to the topic of this post - smart cities.

Cities - Exponential Growth

According to the United Nations, the urban population worldwide will reach 68% by 2050. With population density increasing, cities are presented with difficult infrastructural challenges such as security threats, public health, crowd and traffic management, operational efficacy, resource management, climate change, and urban development.

source

We are at a precipitous moment in the history of humans, where the number of people living in a finite geographical area is growing at an unprecedented rate. Naturally, this means there is a contention for every resource, and issues that occur with scale.

In his seminal book SCALE, physicist Geoffrey West, articulated the epoch we are witnessing:

The term Anthropocene has been suggested as the name of this most recent epoch in the history of our planet during which human activities have significantly affected the earth’s ecosystems. This process began more than ten thousand years ago with the discovery of agriculture and the subsequent transition from the mobile hunter-gatherers to the sedentary communities and eventually to the emergence of the first cities.

In that spirit we should also acknowledge that we have already made a sharp transition out of the purely Anthropocene to what could be considered yet another epoch characterized by the exponential rise of the cities which now dominate the planet. I would like to introduce a new term and suggest the name Urbanocene.

Urbanocene will be adding an enormous stress to every system we can think of. Therefore, there is a big rally to make the cities smarter.

Smart Cities - Sustainable at Scale

What exactly does smart mean? We can define smart (in this context) as being able to measure, observe, and act proactively on every resource that is required to sustain a city at scale. The resource could include (but not limited to): infrastructure, security, public health, crowd and traffic management, water and energy management, resource management, climate change, urban development, and more.

Economic drivers to invest in Smart Cities

The total addressable market (TAM) for smart cities is estimated to be at 2.5 trillion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 22.5%. This is an incredibly massive market with room for many players to establish themselves across various verticals.

Mayors of many cities are pushing mandates as part of the Climate Action Compendium, making actionable governance in communities/cities. Some examples:

NYC, NY

  • 40% reduction in carbon-based emissions by 2030 on 1990 baseline; 80% by 2050 on 2005 baseline. Target a 30% reduction by 2025 in buildings

  • Govt. buildings to be retrofitted for energy efficiency by 2025

Bay Area, CA

  • Greenhouse gas reduction: 40% by 2025; 80% by 2050 (1990 baselines)

  • 100% renewable energy by 2030

  • Build or retrofit 50 million sq. ft. of green buildings

  • Divert 100% of waste from landfill 

Most cities

  • Net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 204x

  • Zero waste by 203x

  • 100% clean, renewable electricity by 203x

  • Divert 100% of waste from landfill and convert waste to energy by 204x.

Read the full PDF here

Role of edge computing and AI

The TAM for just the edge computing market is at $7.1 Billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 28.4%. The market for smart cities includes deploying several key AI and edge computing technologies, with the following considerations:

  • IoT and sensors deployed to gather continuous data around cities

  • Smart meter and smart grid for predictive energy and resource usage

  • Monitoring for threats, as they are increasing across the stack of hardware, software, policies, and operations

  • Privacy first solutions and inclusive participation from the public to be expected - this means most things will move to the edge

We should expect a Cambrian explosion of devices to measure everything. We should demand privacy preserving methods to safeguard sensitive and classified information. It should not be under the control of centralized entities.

Edge computing and decentralization are the two techniques to get us there.

Opportunity for HOT-G

As a company, we care about climate change and sustainability. We believe to build the future for humanity, there needs to be progress and move from systems that are causing long term issues to our planet, and still support the economic progress of bringing billions of people to experience growth and opportunity.

The biggest impact we can have in the smart city vertical is to bring monitoring, privacy, security, and observability to the systems. To that end, we are building our SaaS product, Hammer Forge, which will be adding vertical features for smart cities sometime in 2022.

Monitoring and observability of every aspect of a smart city will become the critical need of the network infrastructure. HOT-G is building the key resources to make this tractable.

If you would like early access to Forge, just add your information below - we plan to onboard select customers in January 2022!

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