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This week The Guardian added to the conversation of how harnessing Big Data can lead to more efficient, sustainable cities. Author Rudy Provoost, president of the Rexel Foundation, which aims to improve access to energy efficiency, looked at the intersection of digital technology and energy, which he calls ‘Energy 3.0.’ At the heart of Energy 3.0 is the Internet of Things, which is composed of sensors and networks that “interconnect all objects to one another.” Provoost also argues that data-rich smart cities will empower city dwellers to use less energy. The confluence of smart grid, apps and energy management platforms have the potential to help people maintain lifestyles with a much lower footprint.
With the importance of smart cities clearly starting to gain momentum, GreenBiz looked into how cities and green startups can use the wisdom of crowds to develop their sustainability initiatives. Consider New York City: The city has implemented a handful of programs such as requiring building owners to report their energy consumption information so others can compare and using social media to map plug-in vehicle charging stations. Both programs are based on citizen support. According to Karim Lakhani, a professor at Harvard Business School, green tech is not just about solar panels or electric vehicles—“it’s an immensely powerful mobilization tool.” Here at Microsoft we see the importance in making cities more efficient, which is why we’ve partnered with the city of Seattle on a smart buildings pilot. In the end, these innovations are about reducing society’s footprint and improving the quality of life for many generations to come.