Monday, February 19, 2018
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Keeping Smart Cities and communities powered up sustainably

Smart Cities are giant systems with countless subsystems which depend on electricity and hardware such as computers, sensors or displays to move people and things, collect data, exchange and share information.

Electricity is key

Electricity allows a city to function and provide services to ensure the safety, security, comfort and well-being of its citizens. An adequate and efficient supply of electricity is the foundation of all city systems, from clean public transport and smart mobility, to lighting, ICT, access and building control, and water and waste management.

But without electricity it is impossible to build an efficient urban infrastructure. No electricity = no Smart City.

International Standards are the common denominator that allows cities to put in place interoperable platforms where many private and public stakeholders can develop the solutions that are needed. International Standards are also essential enablers that ensure interoperability and compatibility between technologies, and they help in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Towards the Sustainable Development Goals

The IEC provides the technical foundation for the entire energy chain and all equipment that is driven by electricity, which is vital to SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy, and other Goals. IEC work enables energy efficiency gains and increases resilience and long-term viability of infrastructure, while reducing cost.

Hundreds of IEC Standards provide the technical foundation for power infrastructure and all hardware that uses electricity and contains electronics. They also form the basis of testing and verification by IEC Conformity Assessment Systems and are used by regulators in many countries.

IEC disaster risk and impact mitigation
When disaster strikes, the electricity supply is often the first thing to go. Electrical installations, devices and supply are generally directly and adversely affected by manmade disasters or natural phenomena such as hurricanes, extreme cold or heat, floods, earthquakes, lightning or solar storms.

SDG 1 No poverty, calls for increased resilience to climate-related events and disasters. IEC work enables improved resilience and faster restoration of electrical and electronic infrastructure and basic services in the face of disasters. The IEC takes a two-pronged approach to disaster risk and impact mitigation.

First is avoiding or minimizing the risk and impact of disasters related to the failure of electrical or electronic equipment.  Numerous IEC Technical Committees prepare International Standards that include metrics, testing methodologies, classification systems and other processes that support risk assessment or risk avoidance. These cover homes, offices, manufacturing, public spaces and health facilities. Other IEC International Standards control the use and management of hazardous substances, end-of-life recycling and waste management.

Secondly, a wide variety of IEC International Standards, combined with conformity assessment, ensure that devices and systems, including alarm and emergency systems, are designed and built to resist failure during extreme conditions.

Strengthening disaster resilience

IEC Standards, together with testing and verification, help to strengthen disaster resilience of infrastructure and cities, which helps to enable SDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities. The work of the IEC helps mitigate disaster risk and accelerate disaster recovery – reducing overall impact of a disaster.

The IEC White Paper Microgrids for disaster preparedness and recovery considers what needs to be done in anticipation of major electricity outages as well as for post-disaster recovery.

Impact of climate change

Natural disasters are predicted increase to unprecedented levels due to the effects of climate change. As a result, loss of city service continuity will become an increasingly large problem, as The Great East Japan Earthquake (2011), river floods in Thailand (2011) and Hurricane Sandy in USA (2012) and major UK flooding (2015-2016) attest.

Immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, services continued to be supplied with high quality power from the Sendai microgrid by using energy from solar cells and battery storage. In times of disaster an island microgrid can continue operating, maintaining autonomous local power supply.

When Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, more than 8.5 million people lost power as many substations were flooded. It took 13 days to restore power to 95% of the population – as special production of spare parts needed for substation repairs had to arrive from abroad, parts which met US national standards.

Building infrastructure which meets IEC International Standards allows countries and utilities to source parts anywhere in the world, and can make it easier and faster to get help when disaster strikes.

Continuity of city services after a disaster

The IEC Systems Committee on Smart Cities fosters the development of Standards in the field of electrotechnology to help with the integration, interoperability and effectiveness of city systems.

A new area of work is city service continuity against disasters, especially the role of the electricity supply. This work will cover concepts and guidelines to sustain a variety of city services and the role of the electricity supply when a natural disaster occurs.

It will examine how multiple city services can cooperate and continue to be provided, enabled by electrical continuity plans and electrical continuity systems.

To date, the IEC has developed more than 1,800 International Standards that enable Smart Cities and communities, and this new work on city service continuity in the face of disasters will be an important addition to these resources.

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