Data analytics saves money and time for utilities and cities

From Metering & Smart Energy International...

According to a report published by Harvard University's Data-Smart City Solutionsleading cities are increasingly utilising data analytics with a view to increasing efficiency and reducing costs, improving public services or improving the accuracy of services.

At a city level, the effectiveness of these investments are, at times, hard to identify. According to the study, "Government employees with data skills can be thought of as 'utility infielders', able to work across departmental silos on a variety of projects, their value recognised internally but too seldom documented for the public."

However, here are some of the examples mentioned in the report that recognise the value that can be driven by data focused employees:

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In Boston, the Citywide Analytics Team has taken on projects across a variety of sectors.  Under the leadership of chief data office Andrew Therriault, the city is already saving nearly $1 million a year on energy costs with data. The city’s new energy manager has a dashboard to monitor energy usage in real time, allowing him to track usage and compare to daily and hourly averages. The dashboard was built by city staff, saving the dollars that might have been spent on an outside consultant.

Utilising a dashboard built by city staff, the city has granular insight into data that has helped save money in two ways. First, by providing usage information right down to an individual piece of equipment and allowing for real time energy consumption management. "Small changes in energy use that are imperceptible to the public, like lowering fan speeds slightly for a few hours, can result in noticeable cost savings, for example $40,000 a year for implementing this strategy in one library building. Another benefit of the energy consumption dashboard is being able to make real-time adjustments, like lowering energy consumption when the building is closed during a snowstorm. In the first year of implementation, this monitoring system is expected to save the city $700,000 to $900,000."

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The small suburban town of Wellesley, Massachusetts has saved $132,000 in energy costs using data analytics. By managing and reporting regularly on energy use for each town building and benchmarking the results, the town reduced energy use by 9 percent over a three-year period, even with 37 percent more extreme weather days. Installing exterior LED lights in town buildings is achieving 15 percent more light and a 10 percent overall reduction in electricity energy costs.

The city of San Diego, with its open data portal, predictive analytics, geospatial analysis, and performance management program, has achieved significant savings, just a few years into its innovation efforts. One project with a significant projected savings is the “smart city” initiative. This effort includes sensors on streetlights that allow automatic dimming and brightening of the lights, estimated to save $2.4 million annually on the city’s energy costs.

Read the full article here.

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