15 October 2010

Project explores human factor in ‘smarter cities’

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Smart neighbourhood
Boston University is participating in a $2 million National Science Foundation-funded Smart Neighborhood project that seeks to make a Boston neighborhood more energy efficient. But rather than just install solar panels or electricity monitors, researchers are focusing on ways to get people on board and participate in what they hope will be a “living laboratory.”

One of the ideas behind the project is that there is no lack of technology to measure energy consumption, project participants said at a recent public outreach event. Two-way smart meters, for example, can be hooked up to provide a real-time display of electricity use. But more data doesn’t necessarily lead to changes in energy-related behavior, such as cutting wasted energy or shifting to off-peak hours to reduce bills.

The BU project does intend to monitor electricity in an effort to lower its carbon footprint. But it’s coupled that with community relations, financing, and even measuring the the impact from trees on the local carbon footprint.

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