Improved Metrics for Minimizing Business Risk Impacts

December 4th, 2017

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We have seen evolution of sustainability goals from targeting operational areas in environment and energy to focusing on all-encompassing goals around the community and employees. Thanks to the initiatives at leading brands, the metrics catering to supply chains and products are also poised to be mainstream. This is important because over 50 to 70% of environmental impacts come from the upstream value chain for consumer product companies. In addition, uncertainty in value chains can morph into unexpected issues in quality, safety, emissions, or labor and lead to consumer and investor dissatisfaction.

In Feb 17, I posted a related blog on Wharton IGEL on analyzing goal-setting at consumer product companies using pivot goals data. With Vertaeon’s focus in data analytics and measurement of business impacts, our objective was to identify past core areas and undertake some level of sector and company benchmarking and gap identification that could yield higher visibility into goal-setting.

This preliminary assessment indicated a primary focus on operational goals at leading CPG companies. While product and supply chain goals are increasingly becoming part of sustainability initiatives, we concluded there was room for further adoption. In addition, heterogeneity in consumer expectations has not yet fully translated to goal-setting or reporting. Recent studies indicate consumer expectations are expanding along other dimensions such as risk & compliance and social justice. These broader expectations suggested disconnects between corporate sustainability reporting and stakeholder interests.

There is continuous progress in metrics measurement via new tools and methods — an area of focus in the SB New Metrics 17 Conference. How can we utilize the extensive data that comes out of measurement to quantify impacts to each value chain block and, by extension, your organization? In 2017, Vertaeon launched a web-based, integrated, supply chain analytics platform that seamlessly connects and aggregates data from disparate sources of information on goals set by thousands of companies. Our goal is to deliver a clear, cohesive view of the entire value chain (supplier and market), on multiple attributes ranging from environmental impacts and carbon footprints to compliance, social and governance risk factors. This, combined with operational aspects such as spend analysis, can deliver a comprehensive picture on performance, potential risks, and KPI prioritization.

Where can this improved transparency and impact quantification help? We think in cost reduction via operational efficiency improvement opportunities, revenue generation via new product designs and brand value via mitigating potential red flags in supply chain. As a sponsor of SB New Metrics 17, we are looking forward to seeing you in Philadelphia during November 13-15 and discussing this further!

This blog was  originally posted on November 15th, 2017 on the Sustainable Brands website,.

Rekha Menon-Varma
Co-Founder and Managing Partner
Vertaeon LLC

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Energy Policy Now: India’s Now or Never Climate Opportunity

Featuring Radhika Khosla, fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, India and India fellow at the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development at the University of Oxford.  She is also a visiting scholar at the MIT Energy Initiative, and a former staff scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

November 29th, 2017

Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people.

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

The Energy Policy Now podcast, now in its second season, offers insights from Penn experts, industry and policy leaders on the energy industry and its relationship to environment and society. 

20 Questions on Leadership

Sergio Corbo

SVP Marketing & Communications, Veolia North America

November 26th, 2017

 

LEADERSHIP

  1. What is the difference between a leader and a manager?

A leader gives direction: WHAT should we do? A manager tells you exactly HOW you should do it.

  1. What motivates you to be a leader?

The team. Working together to grow the business. 

  1. What is the most difficult part of being a leader?

Being tough. I don’t like it. It is not me. I do it because sometimes is needed to get the team back on track. When I am tough I feel like I am a manager, someone that has to tell people HOW to do their job. I prefer to lead.

  1. What are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader?

I show up. I say yes and then figure it out. If I want my team to be great I have to be the first to try. Truth is, they are all better than me.

  1. Describe a time you influenced without the authority of being the manager.

Every day. Every day we all have to carry forward tasks with no direct authority. We do it by talking to people, we socialize the ideas, the vision and then we figure out a way to make it happen. Together. 

MAINTAINING VISIBILITY AND NETWORKING

  1. What was your biggest challenge from a corporate function standpoint when you transitioned into the CMO role? And how did you go about resolving?

Someone told me that leadership is a LONELY experience. I dwelled on the concept. I almost saw the point. Over time I realized that leadership is something that at times required to be ALONE, to think, to build the vision, the direction. When I am alone I synthesize and come up with a plan. If I am clear with myself I can be clear and inspiring to others. The time alone helps me with that.

  1. As a CMO and someone who is inherently visible, how do you make a point to maintain that visibility and also get to know your employees at all levels of the organization?

Yes. I always walk the alleys. I like to meet people and learn their stories, their motivations. It is inspiring. There are so many people that believe in what we do. Success starts from there. If I believe it I can definitely make it happen. 

  1. How have visibility and networking impacted your career?

Visibility is a double-edged sword, so I don’t particularly seek it. It just happens. Networking is paramount: without the network, I can never achieve anything. The power of US is infinitely greater than the power of just me. 

  1. What sort of leader would your team say that you are?

I don’t know! Energetic, PASSIONATE, FAST. I value speed over precision. I have the luxury to be free from precision in the role I have. To be a growth leader you have to lean forward, accept imperfections. Of course, I would never sacrifice the basics. Safety is paramount to our business. So, in the case of safety only one outcome is acceptable: zero injuries.

COMPETITION

  1. Is competition among a team healthy? Why or why not?

It depends. Healthy competition focused on elbowing each other into greatness, into results for the Customer, is very good. WE ALL RISE, we all get better.

  1. What advice would you offer in a competitive situation, when everyone wants to make a name for themselves?

Don’t focus on yourself. Focus on the Customer. The true competition is with yourself. Do something that makes you better and help others, which, in business, is the Customer. 

SUCCESS

  1. How do you measure success?

In its most distilled version, business success happens when we make money. I make a point of this. I am now a functional leader. I don’t have a P&L. However, we are all part of making money here. I work every day to be part of it. I always ask myself what things do I need to do to help the Customer and make money for the Company. 

MANAGING TEAMS

  1. How do you go about gaining commitment from your teams?

Commitment is gained every day by inspiring the team to do something meaningful. People want to win, they want to do the right thing. If they understand WHY they are much more prone to do it. They will know HOW to do it much better than me. I lead with WHAT, I gain commitment with WHY and then I let them take the lead on HOW.

  1. How do you encourage the development of your employees?

Education. I value education. It may be because of the teaching of my parents: learn every day something new, it may be useful. In truth, there is no magic in it: the biggest value of education is the personal experience. It makes you THINK. And when people think, they come up with very interesting things that make our world better. At Veolia, we live this every day: we are here to make the world better and make a living in the process. How inspiring!

  1. How did you a handle a time when you had to make an unpopular decision?

I raised prices for my business. We were alone. No competitor followed. The sales team thought I was crazy. I took the time to explain why we were doing it. I found people that agreed, that saw the logic. I enlisted them for help. Together we reached out to customers. Some customers understood. Then few more. Then many more. It was a great snowball effect.

GENERAL

  1. Explain a time when you had to make a decision without all the relevant facts.

Every day. If I wait for ALL the relevant facts out customers will be gone. I try to get as many as possible of the relevant facts in the shortest possible time. Then I go forward with a decision.

  1. How can a leader fail? Tell me about a time when you failed as a leader.

A leader fails when he/she does NOT LISTEN. Years ago, I wanted to make changes in my team because we were not moving fast enough. The team tried to convince me otherwise. I was NOT LISTENING. So, I went ahead: I pushed hard. I saw the team change. Turn dark. I was losing them. I called everybody and asked them to tell me again what they had tried to explain the first time. This time I listened. I apologized and changed my mind. It turned out great, but it was a tough lesson. I had pictured myself as the conductor of an orchestra. For the first time in my life I realized something that had been in front of me all along: the conductor does not make a sound. It is all about the orchestra. The team. They make the magic.

  1. Given that you have reached the pinnacle position of CMO, what are your plans for future career growth?

I want to do something good. I have this thing in me about kids and STEM. I want to leave something valuable for the next generations. STEM is the single biggest tool for success in life. Being in a company so rooted in applied science as Veolia is the right place to learn how to do it. 

  1. What is the most significant change that you brought to an organization?

I mentioned that success in business is measured in terms of profit. I was very successful the time I helped the business make $100 million in price increase without any loss of market share. That money was all profit. 

  1. We’ve asked all the professional questions, but what do you like to do in your free time and how do you make sure there’s a balance?

I exercise. I sweat it out to stay healthy and happy. I love art, music from rock, to country to classical. I go to the opera. I meet friends: we walk around town and dwell into endless conversations about changing the world. I ride my bicycles. I always say that home for me is a place when I have a bike. I have three in Boston!

Penn’s Green Fund Supports Innovative Light Automation

By Elizabeth Main, Sustainability Coordinator, University of Pennsylvania Facilities and Real Estate Services and David Mazzocco, Associate Director for Sustainability and Projects, Wharton Operations

17 November 2017

Penn’s Green Fund, created in 2009, is an initiative of Penn’s Green Campus Partnership to seed innovative ideas in environmental sustainability from members of the University community. The Green Fund welcomes ideas from students, faculty and staff about ways to improve the University’s environmental performance in support of the goals and objectives outlined in Penn’s Climate Action Plan.

Since its creation, more than 59 sustainability projects have received funding through Green Fund grants, ranging in topic from waste minimization to sustainable transportation, and from improvements to the campus landscape to energy conservation.

One recent project recipient is InstaHub, a multi-disciplinary student initiative comprising Wharton undergrad Michael Wong and Dayo Adewole and Matt Hanna from the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). They developed a battery-powered device with occupancy sensing capabilities that attaches over existing toggle light switches for instant light automation. The goal is to help Penn achieve the Climate Action Plan 2.0 goal of 10% reduction in energy consumption by 2019 through integrating a simple light automation solution. Wharton Operations, Penn Residential Services and SEAS co-sponsored their Green Fund application.

In addressing the problem of leaving lights on in unoccupied residential and small commercial spaces, the team looked to develop a cost effective, simple solution. Where conventional occupancy sensors are a possible option, installation costs to retrofit existing switches can account for more than 50% of the project cost. Instead of removing and rewiring to replace the toggle light switch, the device simply adheres to the faceplate over the existing switch.

To prove the effectiveness of the device, the grant funded a pilot to test prototypes in University student residence halls and staff offices. Current installations include five Wharton Operations staff offices with plans to install 25 prototypes in student lounges of four residence halls. The office installation also includes a data logger to measure changes in energy usage. The team hopes to gather early support and build a strong feedback loop to understand areas of improvements.

As the Fund’s goal is to foster innovation in environmental sustainability, one measure of success is recognition of the recipient’s efforts. InstaHub also received a PennVention award as well as interest by outside institutions to pilot their device.

Do you have a project that would support Penn’s environmental objectives, but need financial support to implement? Please visit the Green Fund website to learn more and submit an application!

Energy Policy Now: Distributed Energy’s Wholesale Opportunity

Featuring Ari Peskoe, Senior Fellow in Electricity Law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Policy Program Initiative

November 14th, 2017

Distributed energy resources – namely rooftop solar and, increasingly, battery storage – are becoming an increasingly important part of the U.S. electricity system.  Their next big step may be participation in wholesale electricity markets, the traditional domain of large-scale generators like nuclear, natural gas, coal and, more recently, wind power.

Yet the rules that govern competitive electricity markets were designed with big, traditional generators in mind, and significant rule changes will be needed before distributed energy can meaningfully participate.

In the latest episode of the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast, Ari Peskoe, Senior Fellow in Electricity Law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Policy Program Initiative, discusses the wholesale opportunity for distributed energy, and offers a look at the market and policy hurdles that currently prevent their participation in wholesale markets.

Ari Peskoe is a Visiting Scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and Senior Fellow in Electricity Law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Policy Program Initiative.  Earlier, as an energy attorney, he litigated cases before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Energy Policy Now podcast, now in its second season, offers insights from Penn experts, industry and policy leaders on the energy industry and its relationship to environment and society. 

A Founder With a Vision: Triple Bottom Line Sustainability at Virgin Group

Co-Authored by Joy De Bach (Virgin Atlantic, Regional Commercial Director, East Region), Gabriela Salas (Virgin Atlantic, Global Sales Executive, East Region), & Karen Titus (Delta Air Lines, National Sales Account Executive, Global Sales)

October 18th, 2017

Being a billionaire has afforded Sir Richard Branson many opportunities in life, but after decades of disrupting some of the world’s biggest industries, his latest passion projects have less to do with flying planes and mobile phones and more to do with saving the world.  As employees of Virgin Atlantic and Delta (Virgin’s partner airline), we were fortunate to be able to see Richard at the Authors@Wharton Speaker Series yesterday, and were once again reminded of what an entrepreneurial spirit and compassion for the environment and human rights can do to change the world.

Having recently experienced the devastation of Irma on his Necker Island residence, climate change literally hit Richard, his family, and his employees with the strength of a hurricane.  But rather than dwell on the negative, he spoke of rebuilding infrastructures throughout the islands to come back better than ever before, and views climate change as ‘one of the great opportunities for this world’, encouraging the business sector and entrepreneurs globally to tackle the issues of global warming.

When asked by host, Professor Adam Grant, what his next venture will be, Sir Richard emphasized that he’s setting his sights on the future, focusing on non-profit initiatives to tackle carbon emissions, global human rights, and creating sustainable fuels, just to name a few.  Now, you might think that a mogul with three airlines in the Virgin portfolio which guzzle fuel crossing oceans and continents and saving the environment shouldn’t necessarily be in the same sentence, however Richard and his Virgin Group are achieving just that.  Just take a look at some highlights from the 2017 Virgin Sustainability Report:

  • 8% reduction on total aircraft emissions from 2015 to 2016
  • Continuation of partnership with LanzaTech to create the world’s first commercially viable, low carbon jet fuel from waste carbon gases
  • Installation of solar energy powering an entire secondary school campus and two water systems in Kenya
  • Review and refresh of Virgin’s Responsible Supplier Policy based on international standards of human rights
  • Announcement of a further investment in efficient aircraft with 12 A350-1000s to become part of our fleet from 2019

Yesterday, we were reminded of what a cool boss we have.  We’ve been fortunate to work for and with a man whose vision and compassion could one day further revolutionize the way people travel, consume energy and communicate, as he’s already done for decades.  For the young entrepreneurs of tomorrow, who were able to see Richard speak, we hope some of them heard his rallying cry and will join him in changing the world.

 

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Energy Policy Now: The Future of the EPA and Clean Power

Featuring Gina McCarthy, former EPA Administrator

October 7th, 2017

This week the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy honored former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy with its annual Carnot Prize in celebration of her contributions to environmental policy and to securing a sustainable energy future during her tenure with the EPA.  While visiting the Center McCarthy sat down with the Energy Policy Now podcast to discuss the direction of the EPA under current Administrator Scott Pruitt, likely legal challenges to Pruitt’s effort to roll back the Clean Power Plan, and the larger issue of climate denial in Washington.

The Energy Policy Now podcast, now in its second season, offers insights from Penn experts, industry and policy leaders on the energy industry and its relationship to environment and society. 

Economic and Health Benefits of Sustainable Innovation in Health Care

By Philip Susser and Govind Mattay; Posted October 2nd, 2017

With the devastating impact of climate change beginning to hold a more tangible space in the global consciousness, there is an ever-pressing need for the healthcare sector to innovate and adapt to a new era of environmental accountability. While accounting for 17% of the GDP, the US health care system is also responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, 12% of acid rain formation, 9% of criteria air pollutants. The population health impact of these perverse environmental contributions are staggering. A 2016 study found that 470,000 disability adjusted years of life (DALY’s) were lost associated with health care related pollution. To put that in context, preventable medical errors resulted in a similar number of DALY’s lost – a source of mortality that has historically received much negative press, and was consequently addressed in the Affordable Care Act.

The major challenge that stems from this particular source of morbidity and mortality is that the health care system is inherently complicated, with a supply chain that includes many different products coming from a wide variety of producers. Other industries have had an easier time adjusting due to the greater simplicity of their production processes. These industries have successfully addressed issues of supply chain management by creating certain “indexes” to track the impact of their products on the environment. The Higgs index, developed in 2012, is used by fashion and footwear companies to track a product’s environmental impact. Mindclick, a supply chain sustainability company, is working to develop a similar system for the healthcare system.

A culture shift in medicine requires hospital executives to recognize the immense health, environmental, and surprisingly, economic benefit of moving towards more sustainable health care delivery. Hospitals have begun to take steps to incorporate sustainability into their models by lowering anesthetic gas waste, minimizing food waste, single use reprocessing devices, and reducing operating room packaging. A 2012 commonwealth fund showed that up to $15 billion in savings could be achieved by taking measures such as these. It will be increasingly important to eliminate the commonly held misconception that these types of measures increase costs — and are only meant for brand image —, and solidify that they in fact dramatically reduce operating costs.

The reprocessing of single-use medical devices has proven to be very successful in both reducing environmental footprints and operating costs for hospitals. Single-use medical devices include surgical instruments such as scalpels, forceps, and scissors, as well as cardiac catheters, pulse oximeters, and tourniquet cuffs. The disposal of these devices is highly regulated and incurs costs that are up to 10 times greater than the disposal of regular waste. Instead of disposing single-use devices, many hospitals are deciding to send them to third-party vendors that reprocess the devices by sterilizing, testing, and repackaging them. The reprocessing process is also highly regulated by the FDA, which ensures the safety of using the reprocessed devices. Many devices can be reprocessed multiple times. Once reprocessed devices can no longer be used, most are recycled instead of being sent to a landfill. The beneficial effects of this practice are enormous. For a 200 bed hospital, reprocessing can eliminate up to 15,000 pounds of landfill waste and cut costs by a million dollars per year.

Hospitals have also begun to focus on reducing energy consumption, as current estimates indicate that hospitals use about 8% of the nation’s energy. Since lighting contributes to a significant portion of hospital’s energy costs, many are beginning to look toward alternative, efficient options such as LED lighting. Hospitals have also invested in annual infrared scanning inspections to identify faulty electrical circuits, which can unnecessarily consume energy. Up-front investments such as these can significantly reduce energy consumption to both reduce costs and improve sustainability for hospitals in the long-term.

The Healthcare Sustainability Club aims to educate future leaders in healthcare about the detrimental environmental effects of current practices and to introduce potential methods to improve the environmental impact of the healthcare industry. Our goal is to get students from a variety of backgrounds to begin to discuss the economic and environmental benefits of sustainable practices. We want future physicians and hospital executives to prioritize environmental sustainability and to innovate new ways to improve our environmental impact.

 

 

IS THIS THE FINAL GOODBYE TO MY CHILDHOOD?

By Saloni Wadhwa, September 25th, 2017

On a bright Sunday afternoon, a long time ago, a young girl, about 10 years old, jogged along a quiet street with a robust and large Labrador retriever leading her. Her father walked behind laughing merrily at the duo’s silly antics. “Scruffy!” she yelled in desperation, praying that her arm wouldn’t pop out of its socket with the leash strapped on to it. The large dog halted and started sniffing a patch of green grass, just as he always did. She quickly handed the leash to her father and slipped her hand into his warm, loving one. The little girl loved this routine; especially the cool shade that the trees on the street provided her. She loved the perfect arch that the trees made, creating a tunnel of lush green in a myriad of hues. The spectacle of the Gulmohar tree during summer engulfed by fiery red flowers which would later fall, creating a “red” carpet, of sorts was indeed a sight to behold!

That perfect story was my childhood. I grew up in a quiet, peaceful city called Mysore (Mysuru now). Mysore: with its awe-inspiring Chamundi Hills, its historic architecture in the form of the Mysore Palace, and its renowned zoo: the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, is a world-famous heritage city. The city has always had an old-world charm to it. It is a mix of the colonial world with the architecture of the Rajas of India. It is surrounded by National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries and is very close to the famous Western Ghats. Among all of the things that I admired about this city, the one thing that I prized was its weather. Of course, like any normal city, there was monsoon, summer, winter, autumn and spring. However, none of these seasons had extremes and thus we always enjoyed a pleasant climate all through the year.

Fast forward to today: I have read articles almost every summer of “The Highest Temperature” being recorded through the history of summers. I have seen the KRS Dam Reservoir: Mysore, the nearby Mandya and Bangalore’s major source of water, plunging into oblivion due to delayed monsoons. So much so, that the headlines in local newspapers were pictures of an omelet being made directly on the scalding tar roads of the city! Most importantly, I too have personally felt the changes: I have seen the extremes that I prided Mysore for never having. With all of these changes that are slowly and subtly occurring, I wonder if it is our fault. My beautiful tunnel of trees, one that I cherished as a child, and one that I knew had the supernatural ability to secure and protect me, the one that was the reason my parents bought our house, “Blossom” now just remains a pocket of trees outside my house. All of the other trees have vanished; brutally chopped because they were causing problems with overhead communication signals. The birds that flocked my street and filled the air with their musical sounds have been silenced. Scruffy does not pause to sniff anymore. The street increasingly looks barren, as do other parts of the city. Does development mean a goodbye to nature? Can development not occur sustainably, hand-in-hand with the environment? And most importantly, is this the end of my childhood?

Smart Air, Smart City

By Julie Spitkovsky, Netronix, Inc., September 24th, 2017

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Internet of Things (IoT) platform provider Netronix, Inc. and Airthinx Inc. a leader of indoor air quality monitoring, are working together to provide cities around the world with a low cost cloud based solution designed to monitor air quality across schools, universities, hospitals and work spaces. The advantages of cloud based solutions are mapping, tracking, identification of pollutants, measurement of pollutants, data analytics using historical trends, and data mining. Cities stand to benefit from ubiquitous long term monitoring and management of air quality, in real time with instantaneous data available for quick city wide propagation, like geo-mapping incident reports of high pollution areas.

Conventional Methods

Municipalities are hard pressed to find low cost solutions. Conventional methods for collecting indoor air quality data relied heavily on expensive stationary devices. In the United States, for example, the federal government has a network of sensors on towers monitoring particulate matter. The cost of each sensor is $100,000. While in Edinburgh, the city had a single station monitoring PM 2.5 as of 2013. Thus data is collected from only a few instruments but is representative of a broad geographic area.

Interim Solutions

Moving away from conventional methods, many cities are implementing short term initiatives as first steps towards smart city transformation. In 2014, Chicago deployed 50 nodes mounted on lampposts developed with Argonne National Library and the Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology. Barcelona deployed a smart lighting system with embedded air quality sensors that relay information to city agencies and the public as part of their smart city initiative costing in total $230 million. Boston, Los Angeles, and Miami installed park benches equipped with a solar panel that channel electricity via USB ports to charge. Denver in partnership with Google and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) attached mobile sensors to cars throughout a city, collecting 150 million data points over 750 hours of driving time, creating a street level air quality map of the city. Dublin fitted 30 bikes with air sensors measuring carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, smoke, and particulates.

Last year, London attached air quality sensors to ten pigeons to monitor air quality over three days of flights. Louisville gave 300 local residents a sensor that fits on top of their inhaler, tracking locations of inhaler use to help residents manage asthma, collecting 5,400 data points over the 13 months, and identifying hotspots with high inhaler use in order to pinpoint areas with particularly bad air quality.

Philadelphia Transforms

Philadelphia begins the smart city transformation process with its most recent initiative to release open data from city departments. Mayor Kenney also points to ownership and accessibility of light poles and city buildings which can accommodate sensors and wireless access points spread throughout the city. With institutional players like Drexel, Penn, Wharton, CHOP & Comcast, the infrastructure to implement smart city solutions is in place.

Dr. Nasis, founder and CEO of Netronix, Inc. and faculty member of electrical & computer engineering at Drexel, shares insight into the transformation process. “A smart city is a segment of IoT. Many have looked at the smart city as a vertical market on its own, when actually it is a horizontal market with many verticals below it, such as safety, environmental, healthcare, energy, and transportation.”

In the environmental vertical, cities can monitor air quality, water quality and weather. Across the safety vertical, meters already exist that detect gunshots to determine the precise location of the incident helping address crime prevention. Energy, another vertical, can be optimized in street lighting and power plants to keep consumption down. And in the transportation vertical, parking, bus, and traffic can be monitored to enhance quality of life.

‘Many have looked at the smart city as a vertical market on its own, when actually it is a horizontal market with many verticals below it.’

A significant challenge of smart cities is having the tools to address compatibility within and between each vertical. Dr. Nasis cites a “holistic approach, rather than filling in the holes.” The smart parking meter experiment is an IoT solution but also an example of ‘filling in the holes.’ Without an overarching smart city horizontal in place, the initiative did not work. Dr. Nasis concludes, “for a successful smart city, each vertical and the needs of each vertical must be defined, and that requires systemic planning.”

Netronix Ventures, LLC, a subsidiary of Netronix, based out of Philadelphia, aims to start up 100 companies in the next decade using Netronix’s IoT platform. Smart city solutions can be developed in record time, saving 75 percent of the time and costs associated with the development and production of devices and services using conventional methods.

Information Gap

The IoT is about sharing things, interacting, and learning. An information gap leads to a certain kind of decision making. A smart platform creates opportunities to make more informed choices when investing in the city. The smart part is how you collect and make use of the intelligence. By breaking the information gap, the result is a better understanding, more thorough assessment of exposure, heightened awareness, and a complete picture of the data.

Today, the means for large scale and rapid deployment of tens of thousands of devices transforms air quality monitoring and facilitates the collection of quantitative data in any infrastructure. As a direct result of the IoT, a new paradigm emerges in air quality monitoring leading to the much-needed democratization of air quality data. Knowing about the quality of the air you breathe or the water you drink pushes people to take social responsibility.

Financial Feasibility

A significant cost to a smart city transformation is the installation process. 70 percent of city officials say budget constraints are the greatest barrier to adopting smart city solutions. In many cities, a complete overhaul poses a lofty price tag associated with the redesign of buildings and infrastructure. A cloud based solution with deployment of IoT enabled devices eliminates the once costly installation, configuration and calibration associated with industry reference instruments.

Such a significant reduction in overhead and cost per unit lowers the price of the device to a fraction of industrial reference instruments. Cities benefit from investment because there is no need to redesign infrastructure in order to adopt IAQ solutions as part of a widespread smart city plan. One incentive is real time data that anticipates future needs. For example, with built in GPS, the locations of sensors take into account the points in the city with the most exposure to air quality hazards, protecting city dwellers and workers. The data can also be reviewed by a team to determine appropriate next steps. Monitoring air quality becomes financially feasible at room level in any infrastructure.

Smart Sensors

But even with such advancements, few sensors produce reliable enough data to be used in studies or by regulations. In comparison to static monitoring, continuous monitoring enhances high temporal-spatial resolution and variability of air pollution, which so far has been difficult to address. These characteristics, the level of accuracy, precision and identification of microscopic particles in the air, are distinguishing characteristics of air quality monitors in the market. The ability to continuously monitor air quality levels in any infrastructure while preserving the integrity of the measurements, and producing never before seen analytics and information, creates better indoor environments, everywhere in the world.

 

Dr. Vasileios Nasis will be presenting at the Wharton IGEL & SUEZ Conference – Smart Utilities: Bridge to Smart Cities of the Future on September 27.