How a smart grid can empower a smart city

Source: Network World on November 6, 2017 | Gary Eastwood

A new world is rapidly approaching, and producing a modernized grid capable of making the smart cities of the future a reality is the first step towards achieving success in it.

As smart cities continue to depart the realm of fiction and instead become a staple of life in the 21st century, eager entrepreneurs and aspirational scientist alike are increasingly turning to smart grids to power these cities of the future. Designing the infrastructure which enables smart cities is anything but easy, however, and many people today seem entirely unfamiliar with even the basic concept of a smart grid.

So, what exactly is a smart grid, and how are they increasingly shaping how America’s smart cities are taking form? Anyone who hopes to understand the cities of tomorrow should keep these facts in mind as they picture tomorrow’s cityscapes in their minds.

A new way to run cities

It’s not hard to figure out that smart cities necessitate modern infrastructure that can handle increased amounts of data traffic and digital connections. Not everyone seems to understand how smart grids are fundamentally reshaping how our utilities and infrastructure systems are shaped, however. Today’s smart grids are bigger and better than ever before, with innovative companies continuously churning out new and better grids more capable of servicing citizen’s needs.

Alfen recently launched a new smart grid so advanced it’s capable of operating autonomously and healing itself when damaged, for instance. As smart cities continue to become the norm, smart grids capable of running without human oversight will become more common, and technologies that allow them to repair themselves when damaged like Alfen’s will quickly growly invaluable. Not only are these grids reshaping our cities, then, but they’re continuously aspiring companies to invest more money into renewables and algorithms which can spur these grids’ growth.

The sensors that help make up today’s smart grids are truly impressive, and fit right into today’s Internet of Things-driven economy. Smart grids are capable of transmitting electricity more efficiently, for instance, but are also constantly gathering data about utility usages around the cities they help operate. This means that the wise application of smart grid’s data can result in better management that ultimately lowers cost for consumers.

Smart grids are helping combat today’s increasingly frequent natural disasters, too. Using the data accumulated from the grid over time, governments and utility providers can ultimately have public infrastructure services up and running more quickly after power disturbances. Building a nation of smart cities is thus clearly in America’s interest, but just how quickly are these new grids becoming the norm?

Modernizing America’s infrastructure

The U.S. electric grid is no simple engineering feat; more than 600,000 miles of transmission lines crisscross the nation, with over 1 million megawatts of generating capacity keeping the lights on year-round. Updating such a system to help spur the growth of smart grids won’t be easy, nor quick, but will ultimately prove to be a boon to society and the economy for decades to come.

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