1. Sustainability Problem: On an electricity grid, electrons generated from the sun, wind, or other renewable sources are indistinguishable from those generated by fossil fuels. To keep track of how much clean energy is produced, governments around the world have created systems based on tradable certificates.
When a renewable-power plant generates a unit of electricity today, a meter spits out data that gets logged in a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is then sent to a registry provider, where the data gets entered into a new system and a certificate is created. A second set of intermediaries brokers deals between buyers and sellers of these certificates, and yet another party verifies the certificates after they are purchased.
Such a byzantine system racks up transaction costs, while leaving plenty of room for accounting errors that can range from honest mistakes to outright fraud. The lack of transparency also scares many people off entirely.
A blockchain is a shared, encrypted ledger that is maintained by a network of computers. These computers verify transactions—in the case of Bitcoin, the transfer of cryptocurrency between individual users. Each user can access the ledger, and there is no single authority.
Keeping track of renewable-energy certificates is one of dozens of potential applications of blockchain technology that could solve data management challenges in the electricity sector without disrupting business as usual
3. Organizational Stakeholders involved: Independent Power Producers, Utilities, Technology Companies
4. Next Steps for Deployment:
Develop blockchain algorithms that can be trusted by all users
Train utilities and power companies in use of blockchain applications
Create meeting protocols for all stakeholders to confer in case of any emergencies
1. Sustainability Problem: Concrete is the major building block for constructions worldwide. The production of cement, one of the main ingredients in concrete, generates an estimated 5 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. With exponential growth of cities and thereby construction activity, it is important to find a viable alternative.
Today, wood is lauded for its smaller environmental footprint and the speed with which buildings can be assembled.
Trees capture CO2, helping offset emissions produced by a typical building process. And then there’s the string of other construction advantages that make wood economically appealing. It’s lighter, which means digging smaller foundations in the ground.
Crane costs come down, as they’re no longer hauling blocks of cement hundreds of feet in the air. Driving a nail into a slab of wood requires a lot less energy than driving one into concrete. Months can be knocked off the construction timeline.
Wood construction has been propelled forward by the growing availability of cross-laminated timber (CLT). These enormous, prefabricated panels, made from several layers of wood glued perpendicular to one another and measuring up to 20 inches in thickness, are strong enough to hold up bigger buildings and arrive on site ready to be assembled like Jenga pieces. It’s also this heft that helps make CLT fire-resistant: the outside layers char slowly, protecting the wood inside from burning.
Numerous projects are already popping up in Europe and North America: in London, PLP Architecture has proposed an 80-story timber skyscraper, fitted with 1,000 residential units, that would make it the city’s second highest building.
1. Sustainability Problem: Children and people with disabilities do not feel safe and secure in large cities when moving between their home and work/school.
u-Seoul Safety Service has been in operation since April 2008, utilizing state-of-the-art Location Based Services and CCTV technologies to notify authorities and family members of emergencies involving children, the disabled, the elderly, and those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Seoul has developed a smart device dedicated to this purpose and when its holder leaves a designated safe zone or pushes its emergency button, an emergency alert is sent to guardians, police, fire departments and CCTV Control Centers.
To make use of the u-Seoul Safety Service, citizens are required to register with mobile carriers specifically designed for this purpose. Supporting low-income households and especially vulnerable groups, Seoul often provides emergency-alert devices free of charge or at significant discounts, aiming to reach 50,000 registered users by 2014.
“U-Children Safety System” provides ‘children safety zones’ using a multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) wireless infrastructure mesh network. Real-time CCTV networks and children’s smart devices allow Seoul to make use of wireless networks in locating missing children as quickly as possible.
3. Organizational Stakeholders: City Administration, Public, Cell service providers
4. Next Steps:
Educate children and other users about the technology
Update cell services to meet the device requirement
Update emergency service personnel about the changes
1. Sustainability Problem: 40% of traffic in city centers is caused by drivers looking for parking spaces. This gridlocked inertia is a universal frustration creating increased congestion, noise and pollution in areas where citizens live and work. Barcelona, Spain had been facing this issue for a long time.
Category: Energy, Waste
2. Solution implemented: Smart parking using IoT sensors, apps and innovative traffic routing
Barcelona has been a pioneer in implementing IoT and smart technologies to improve civic service. As a part of it, they have identified traffic congestion as one of the areas to be worked on.
Using smart sensors, display boards and apps, drivers can locate nearest empty parking spot, park and get a parking receipt over the app.
Barcelona has also also come up with a design solution, to identify a group of city blocks (called superblocks) and allows traffic only in its perimeter, thereby reducing traffic congestion in the inner crossroads of the superblocks. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZORzsubQA_M)
3. Organizational Stakeholders: City Government, Community leaders, technology vendors
4. Steps for deployment:
Identify locations across the city where this technology can be implemented in.
Educate communities and citizens to accept the changes taking place in their neighborhood.
Increase Internet connectivity across the city, to help drivers connect with the app easily.
1. Sustainability Problem: Forest fires in California have increased in frequency and magnitude. This is causing increased loss of human life and property. After the forest fires subside, Forest Department prunes/ cuts down trees in uniform manner, similar to farming, to avoid future fires. However, this results in artificial spacial patterns among trees thereby increasing chances of disease, fire and loss of biodiversity. It is important to mimic natural forest patterns, to avoid these issues and to enable forests to survive on their natural resilience. However, there is no easily available technology for this.
University of Washington has developed an app called QuickMap which uses statistics and GIS data to randomize tree patterns, to closely mimic nature, based on which foresters can prune trees, to avoid future fires.
An experienced 2 person team can mark 10-20 acres of land per day, which is quick.
It will take time for tree removal and for the forest to take over the job – growing, seeding new areas, and dying back from others – but this approach gives the forest a head start at creating healthier, more resilient conditions.
1. Sustainability Problem: Residential energy consumption constitutes about 40% of total US energy consumption. Grids are programmed and operated based on the demand curves created by residential sector. If there can be a way to moderate the electricity demand depending on availability of load, at the user level, excellent energy savings can be achieved.
Voice controlled smart speakers have become a common device in most households in the US, with companies like Amazon and Google expecting huge demands in the future.
These devices are currently being used for basic entertainment purposes like playing music or listening to updates. However, they are capable of controlling other smart / IoT gadgets like refrigerators. However they can be used to control electrical dimmers.
If the utilities can securely connect with the speakers and control variations in energy consumption, depending on grid variations, energy savings can be achieved at residential level.
3. Stakeholders involved: Home Users, Equipment Manufacturers, Utilities
4. Next Steps:
Utilities need to partner with manufacturers like Amazon and Google to embed the necessary communication software.
Home users need to be educated about the benefits and a program can be designed to incentivize them.
1. Sustainability Problem: Agriculture (including animal farming) consumes about 2750 billion cubic metres of freshwater every year (70% of global water withdrawals) and will rise to 3300 – 3400 bcm per year (80-85% of global withdrawal, an increase equal to the water consumption of China), with increase in global population to 9.6 billion by 2050.