Globally, nations are becoming increasingly challenged by rising household consumption levels, depletion of natural resources, increasing levels of pollution and greenhouse gases and increasing vulnerability to natural hazards and risks from climate change variation. In response to these challenges nations are becoming ‘smart’ in their management of scarce resources Click & Tweet! in the face of climate change.
The rise of the Smart Nation
The concept of a smart nation is based on the use of big data and technology to minimize water, waste and resource consumption Click & Tweet! as well as promote a higher quality of life by engaging more actively citizens. Smart nations use ICT to make traditional infrastructure more efficient, sustainable, livable and safe. There are four steps to making a smart nation:
- Capturing data: Smart devices collect data in real time.
- Communicating data: Data from smart devices and infrastructure is communicated to control centers for processing.
- Analyzing data: Smart cities then make sense of the data to form actionable insights.
- Acting: The final decision is to use this analysis to make decisions or influence behavior.
Korea’s Smart Water Grid
In Korea, good quality water for human and natural use is challenged by climate change extreme weather events and pollution from urbanization and industrial development. Korea’s water agency, K-Water, is responding to uncertainty in water quantity and quality by developing a Smart Water Grid that combines existing water grids with information and communication technologies. The Smart Water Grid enables K-Water to monitor real-time the entire water supply system to ensure adequate quantity and consistent water quality. The Smart Water Grid also comprises a sensor network inside the pipelines that collects and analyses water data including quantity, quality, pressure, leakage etc. In addition the Smart Water Grid enables customers to receive real time information about tap water quality over the whole production and transportation process.
UK’s smart energy grid
In the UK, 53 million smart meters for electricity and gas will be installed across all households and small non-domestic premises between 2015 and 2020 to achieve a low carbon and energy-secure economy. The smart meters will form the basis of the country’s smart grid enabling real-time, two-way communication between energy suppliers and consumers. The benefits of the smart grid will be:
- Effective demand management: Suppliers can see real-time information on electricity consumption and implement demand-side management strategies including compensation schemes to encourage customers to shift consumption to off-peak times
- Increased energy efficiency and lower electricity bills: Smart meters give customers a clear picture of their energy consumption. This helps them identify areas where savings can be made e.g. purchasing more energy-efficient household appliances, lowering their electricity bill and reducing carbon emissions
- Reduced infrastructure costs: Improved demand management can reduce peak demand and allow overall increased electricity usage during off-peak periods without constructing additional power plants and renewable energy systems.
To reduce resource scarcity pressures and mitigate climate change nations are turning to ICT to enable demand-side management of water and energy.
*Robert C. Brears is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley). Urban Water Security argues that, with climate change and rapid urbanization, cities need to transition from supply-side to demand-side management to achieve urban water security.