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Population growth, rapid urbanization and climate change is stressing our urban infrastructure. Siemens’ technologies can help cities respond to these challenges with innovative solutions and our expertise in the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization.
Stable economic development, comprehensive public safety, reliable infrastructures, sustainable and affordable housing – are crucial factors enabling cities to thrive and grow. Cities depend on them to cope with population growth and urbanization across the globe.
Resilient infrastructure is not an option. It is a must!
Urban infrastructure systems and their effective and reliable operation ensure delivery of energy, mobility, water, sanitation and information, on a daily basis and during unplanned or unforeseeable situations. Yet with an ever-increasing frequency, businesses and communities face emergencies such as extreme weather-related events. City leaders have to find a new way of thinking about how to plan, design, build and manage their cities under more challenging conditions.
Siemens supports cities wanting to increase their resilience by bringing international know-how directly to city managers. Our task is to help urban areas become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. We work together with public organizations as well as private companies in helping cities, their people, communities and institutions respond to the stresses and acute shocks caused by rapid urbanization, globalization, and climate change. For us, resilience is not only about surviving – it is also about thriving, regardless of the challenge.
The Grid Electricity System
Energy is the backbone of life in cities, affecting every area of their infrastructure. Water distribution, public transport, communications and medical services for instance all require a reliable and resilient energy supply – it is vital for communities and businesses alike. The overall energy supply in urban areas is diverse and comprises a number of sources and modes: ranging from centralized power plants, to oil and gas for heating or local power generation and heat networks. However, if a distribution network is affected by severe weather events, millions of customers may lose power and literally stand in the dark.
Making urban electricity systems more resilient and sustainable calls for a shift towards distributed, automated and remotely controlled energy systems. Microgrid infrastructure, whereby small, independent electricity or heat grids distribute locally generated energy to nearby customers, can ensure a constant power supply even if the main power grid is under stress. In the event of a major catastrophe at a centralized plant or in the transmission network, microgrids could channel energy to critical services, such as hospitals and other emergency services.
Remote monitoring, the flexible integration of decentralized energy and energy storage devices present opportunities to increase the resilience of energy supply while at the same time improving efficiency and adopting cleaner sources of power. During extreme weather like hurricanes or other major substation events, mobile resilience transformers for instance help replace units within days rather than weeks. For example, Siemens is providing Con Edison, the utility that powers New York City and local areas, with compact, light and environmentally-friendly transformers. The mobile resilience transformers will allow Con Edison to respond to these events where multiple transformers may be impacted and normal spares or system redundancy may not be able to address the issues.
Mobility underpins the social and economic activity of any city around the world, making an unobstructed and sustainable transport infrastructure its lifeline. Yet despite most city transportation networks comprising a variety of mode and pathway options, many travelers and freight transport tend to depend on a familiar route. Add to this the reliance on stable energy and fuel supplies, transportation services are a highly sensitive and easily disrupted system. With recent evidence suggesting that the frequency and severity of extreme weather events will be increasing noticeably, special attention needs to be paid to cities’ transport networks. Intelligent systems that forecast and respond to the impact of damaging weather events can ensure that periods of disruption are minimized and long-term economic sustainability is not undermined.
Buildings provide essential shelter and structure while shaping the culture and physical character of the city. They are a crucial element of resilient infrastructures since they are the hubs that bring energy and water to consumers and provide destination points for most transportation systems. When equipping or modernizing buildings or entire cities to the highest standards of resilience, it is paramount to have a comprehensive understanding of hazardous and emergency situations in order to be able to react and evacuate safely and with the highest possible speed. Technologies have to be taken into account as much as the site and the design of buildings. Siemens provides a range of technology solutions that help to support the resilience of building systems, and ensure their ongoing functionality.
Taipei 101, a 101 story tower in Taiwan, sees 40,000 people pass through its doors each day. Fire prevention and emergency reaction plans have been of utmost importance since the start of construction in 2000, offering a ‘layered’ approach to fire safety and ensure rapid response in the event of a disaster. Among many other features, Taipei 101 is equipped with very early warning fire detection systems, smoke detection and expulsion systems and automated fire extinguishing systems, which are coordinated via a central disaster prevention center.
Yet a rapid response also depends on correctly assessing the behavior of building occupants during an emergency. This can be modeled prior to an event, using advanced 3D simulation software. The software enables movement through a building or space to be forecast up to ten times faster than real time with relative accuracy. Using this information, evacuation strategies may be planned and communicated to building users to ensure a rapid flow of people to safety. The approach has been implemented with a number of high rise buildings, including 1 Canada Square at Canary Wharf, which until 2012 was the tallest building in London.
In order to deliver targeted messages to advise building occupants during a crisis, Mass Notification Systems (MNS) can be implemented like for instance at Medicine Hat College in Alberta, Canada. Messages are disseminated through multiple redundant channels, including voice systems, LED signage and local area networks or even via personal devices such as cell phones. Systems inform occupants about what action they should take, therefore coordinating movement to facilitate safe and efficient response.
Some of the most important features of Data centers are service reliability and data security. Built-in solutions protect against power supply interruptions, security and fire safety threats, and ensure that servers operate at the correct temperature. The Safe Host SA data center in Geneva, Switzerland for instance, features a central management system, over 800 smoke detectors and video surveillance at all major entrances.
Water Management System
Supplying drinking water and treating wastewater is a global challenge and critically important to all urban areas, particularly when keeping in mind the shortage of water we will face in the coming years. Through decentralized approaches, redundant infrastructure, automation and asset monitoring we can ensure a safe and continuous water supply, even in cases of irregularities, extreme weather or general water shortages. As industry experts for water applications, we offer powerful, innovative technical solutions.