The future is smart and green, says the European Commission
The European commission believes that “smart” is the future when it comes to using the Internet to tackle issues such as inefficient electricity networks, congested roads and backward healthcare systems.
In a statement released this week, the EC announced funding of around €300m during 2011 to 2013, to support the development of Internet applications to improve transport, energy and healthcare. The new funding adds to to existing €200m already allocated every year to ongoing Internet research.
“The internet can help face the challenges of the future and holds the key to lifting Europe’s economy out of the crisis. Online applications and technologies can improve transport in cities, which will soon house 70 percent of the world population. They can, and must, improve the systems that manage our energy, because electricity consumption will have doubled by 2030. And with an ageing EU population, the internet can make our health care systems more efficient and treat patients from afar,” said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media.
According to the EC, internet infrastructures need to be ‘smart’ enough to cope with rises in real-time data such as those associated with sensors and smart grids. “Through internet technology like sensors, smart tags , and, one day, the Galileo navigation satellite system, traffic jams, which cost Europe €135 billion a year, could be reduced by 20 percent and emissions by another 15 percent,” the EC said in a statement.
IBM is partnering with companies such as Trafficmaster to develop technology to help motorists spend less time stuck in jams and to more accurately predict journey times. Systems such as Trafficmaster’s SmartNav route-planning tool, combined with mobile applications provided by operator 02, and making use of information compiled in IBM-drive databases are being combined to help commercial and private drivers to hopefully avoid traffic or at least know when it’s coming.
The EC used the example of Stockholm which it said has invested in a smart traffic management system which could cut travel time, boosts public transportation and reduces carbon emissions. “Through the use of sensor networks and mobile devices (near) real time data can be collected which is key to managing energy or transportation systems,” the statement said. “This information can then be used to optimise the urban mobility system for example.”
Earlier this week, Google announced that it is preparing to launch its free PowerMeter tool in the UK, enabling British consumers to monitor their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions via the web. The service will be available to customers of first:utility – a small gas and electricity provider with around 30,000 customers – from early November.
In July, tech giants IBM and Cisco announced a project to bring smart electricity grid technology to Amsterdam with the aim of helping consumers and businesses take more control of their energy usage and hopefully improve efficiencies.