Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ma'alot - A Smart City

The Municipality of Ma’alot announced to the world in an article published online in the Jerusalem Post, that it was instigating a new project, called “Going into the Light,” administered by the Israeli start-up Juganu System in 2013. In the project the Municipality replaced all of the old street lights with new innovative energy saving LED lighting.The implementation of this initial step has placed Ma’alot firmly on the National as well as International map as a future “Smart City” by not only reducing its “Carbon Footprint”but it has caused other towns and villages in our area to join us.
"Ma'alot-Tarshiha is a beautiful town of 27,000 people in northern Israel, within upper Galilee, about 600 meters (1,969 feet) above sea level. Along with the municipality, Juganu won a chief scientist grant for Juganu to install its JLED luminaries and wireless management & control system throughout the city's buildings and streets. In total, over 13,000 new and retrofit luminaries were installed. 
Today, Ma’alot is the first Israeli city to have entirely switched to LEDs. Now Ma'alot enjoys brighter lighting while saving about US$900k each year in electricity operating costs, as well as saving capital improvement and maintenance costs on all lighting elements. According to independent testing performed by the IEC (Israel Electrical Corporation), Ma’alot reduced energy consumption by 75% while delivering even more light throughout the city’s streets and buildings." 
At the time of the instigation of the program it was also announced that the money saved via the LED lighting program would be transferred to a dedicated investment fund that would be used to implement and integrate further “Smart City” programs in energy efficiency, infrastructure and water programs. This we in Ma'alot have done to complete the change for a better and “Smarter” Ma’alot.

Through the success of our “Going into the Light Project” we have led the way to install similar energy saving LED light programs in two nearby communities, thereby reducing the “Carbon Footprint” in our area all together. Our success and experience in our LED program is gaining not only National recognition but recognition from other cities.

2) Economical and Energy Independent

We have seen on the Internet how other cities like Ma’alot have gained economical and energy savings through leasing underutilized public spaces for Solar Roof systems.
In Ma’alot several Municipal Buildings have been leased to solar companies for solar collection and it has shown that there is economical and energy savings to be gained from leasing underutilized public spaces for community solar farms.

We have recently instigated a program to lease underutilized parking areas to benefit the community by not just producing clean energy by harnessing the power of the sun, but by leasing parking areas to Solar Energy companies the Municipality can further gain not only income derived from the rent but also contribute to the welfare of the residents. The installation of solar collection units over parking areas will provide vehicles shade from the sun and protection from inclement winter weather.
Parking in a covered facility contributes substantially to increased vehicle fuel efficiency, because it saves; having to cool cars in the summer and heating cars in the winter during inclement weather. All of this will energy saving will mark Ma’alot as a “Smart City” and as a major contributor to the reduction of the “Carbon Footprint”.   

We have also taken strides in further reducing our “Carbon Footprint” and increase economic savings and energy reduction to the Municipality by instigating a “cogeneration program” for the reduction in city bio-mass in our waste management.
With a cogeneration furnace, the municipality can improve the efficiency in waste reduction, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, promote economic growth, and maintain a robust energy infrastructure.
With CHP- Combined heat and power system we can reduce the cost of:
  • the Municipality's waste disposal: transportation and landfill fees.
  • the extensive fleet of vehicles: Maintenance and fuel
  • "turnaround" in waste disposal by eliminating bio waste on the premises,
  • Reduce CO2 emissions,
  • the environmental impact of waste on the municipality and the surrounding area.

 By using a CHP /Cogeneration system we can produce electricity and heated water –which can be converted to heat in buildings, as well as syngas for further energy needs.

So why should Ma’alot take further steps to become a Smart city?

The term “Smart City” in of itself has become one of the biggest buzzwords around right now as more and more city leaders begin to realize the tremendous advantages in accepting the new technological advantages. Smart City process is dynamic as cities exchange information and learn from one another.
We should continue our stride into becoming a smart city because urban challenges are growing steadily more complex. We can see from worldwide statistics that the world is rapidly urbanizing and Cities face considerable challenges. However, we in Ma’alot have shown that we can meet these challenges and succeed.
Existing services, infrastructures and amenities are under pressure, due to their age, or simply as a result of growing demand. The existing infrastructures on which cities are so heavily dependent are overburdened.
Our knowledge and experience in Smart City technologies will help us to become more economically efficient as well as much more energy efficient.

As we have seen in several cities throughout the world: Barcelona in Spain, Delft in Holland, Winnipeg, Canada Boston, Massachusetts and Vienna Austria among many others. The definition of what a “Smart City” means is different for every city, depending on that specific city’s priorities and goals. These cities have embraced technological changes and programs to improve the city’s functions which in turn have improved the lives of the residents who actively participate in their city’s development. 

It is said that the transforming into a smart city is a marathon, not a sprint. Without a well-structured strategic plan, you can’t prioritize nor make informed decisions nor can you track milestones or measure success.
The Smart City concept has brought the physical as well as the digital together. We have seen how Israel has become a “Start Up” nation as it is becoming more digitized daily.
Israeli accelerators are full of ‘Smart’ solutions which are being devised and developed in - healthcare, water management, energy supply and transport, for example. More and more of these Israeli designed technologies (apps) are becoming part of everyday life, and increasingly we live in an IOT )Internet of Things) network society, where (almost) everything is connected to (almost) everyone.

3.) Clean and Efficient living

A smart city is all about efficiency and maximizing the quality of life, of and for its citizens, by utilizing the most appropriate resources to drive progress. Cities need to be prepared for future developments and city councils can achieve this by sharing civic responsibility with residents, companies and others through  IOT apps that allow for the ready exchange of data, ideas as well as provide economical solutions for a brighter future.

Central to the theme of building a smart city is to improve the quality of life by using technology to improve the efficiency of services and meet residents’ needs. We can achieve this by integrating multiple Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions derived from the previously accumulated municipal data which will need to be analyzed for programming purposes.

ICT  as in the City Of Boston CityScore will allow city officials and departmental heads to interact in real time directly with their workforce and to manage city assets better. Through a ICT platform they will be able to monitor what is happening in the city, the city infrastructure and how to enable a better quality of life.

These new “SMART City” applications rely on a modern networking infrastructure platform that enables continuous connections with new classes of intelligent devices for improved decision making. Through the use of sensors integrated with real-time monitoring systems, data is collected from citizens and objects - then processed and analyzed. The information and knowledge gathered are keys to tackling inefficiency.

4) Citizen Participation

Smart city "wannabees" need to create a Vision with Citizen Engagement activities like; kitchen table discussions at private homes, online discussion forums and workshops at community centers to communicate and engage citizens in a dialog about city projects.

In other Smart Cities we have seen how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is used to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to improve contact between citizens and government.

Through the ICT program municipal manpower and vehicles can be diverted in real time to those places were their work is needed thereby saving money
A smart city integrates multiple Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets. The management is achieved through the assessment and compilation of previously accumulated data from a city’s assets. This includes all of its corresponding local departments that manage the main branches of municipal services in the fields of:

  • Waste Management Sanitation Department (both sewer and refuse),
  • Water Department,
  • City Streets Maintenance, Education Department -the public library, schools,
  • Health Department - food and restaurant inspection,
  • Emergency Services - fire department, police, ambulance,
  • Transportation
  • Information systems and other community services.
Smart city applications are developed with the goal of improving the management of the daily routine of urban necessities while allowing for real time responses to challenges.

A smart city therefore is more prepared to respond to challenges than one with a simple 'transactual' relationship with its citizens.  Cities need to substantially increase the efficiency in which they operate and use their resources.

Exposing open data for citizens, developers and businesses can unleash innovation and city efficiency and new monetization opportunities.
It isn’t cost-efficient or practical to do everything at once, so start with the greatest pain points for citizens, which is also a good way of getting their support.
We try to look at what people need, then implement new technologies to do it.
The value of smart cities is how they impact citizens, which is why many cities are crowd-sourcing ideas from them on how to prioritize smart city strategy.  Online tools allow citizens to input into city policy decisions via online surveys on current topics.


Our goal is to implement Smart City solutions, with the objective of speeding up the transition to a low carbon, resource-efficient city.
There are other detriments besides our geographical position and the impact of climate change for the Municipality of Ma’alot to overcome. Regretfully as we have experienced in the past our area is prone to adversity and to strife. These effects could cause an untenable situation that would force us to shift to an essentially sustainable form of urban development. For us it is not just a matter of environmental survival but survival as a whole.

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