Sustainability is a global framework for business growth, and digital and data solutions have been proven to help support sustainability outcomes for cities. Urban infrastructure and technology company ENE.HUB focuses on providing uniquely local options for supporting municipal officials in their sustainability journey. Giving cities options for smart technology allows local governments to customize the services they provide and the data that can be generated to support action and investment.
ENE.HUB was co-founded in Australia in 2013 by Scott Williams and Robert Matchett out of a desire to take part in the growing push for cleaner, smarter, better-connected cities and urban areas. Matchett was an industrial designer with years of experience in smart city infrastructure, and Williams was a civil engineer with a career that spanned government, professional services, construction, and manufacturing, as well as smart city design.
But the collaboration of Matchett and Williams, who serve as co-CEOs at ENE.HUB Pty Ltd, really began as Sydney prepared for the 2000 Summer Olympics, designing smart street furniture, in and around the city and then expanding throughout Australia. The 2000 Sydney Olympics was dubbed the “Green Games” because of the city’s efforts towards sustainability, according to Securing the Smart City Olympics.
Before smart cities became a big part of the municipal conversation, Williams and Matchett were doing pioneering work by providing aesthetic street furniture, such as benches, tables, kiosks or streetlights, which had a communications component.
“The term ‘smart cities’ is all about creating positive outcomes that help enrich people’s lives or help change the dynamic of a city, either from a connectivity or an additional services perspective,” said Jim Ellis, CEO of ENE.HUB, U.S.
The two created several different products over time, continually adding capabilities, which resulted in the SMART.NODE™. In 2017, the new technology was launched with 40 poles in Sydney’s 64-acre Royal Botanic Garden. The first U.S. deployment came in 2018 in partnership with the City of Los Angeles.
This VIDEO shows how a SMART.NODE™ implementation allows garden-goers to interact with Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden.
“The streetlight, which had Internet of Things (IoT) devices hanging on it, evolved into an integrated, fully functional IoT hub housing all services inside the pole. It is, from an aesthetic solution perspective, very appealing,” Ellis said.
ENE.HUB is committed to providing cities with the means to achieve the outcomes that they prioritize. For example, if the outcome is increased safety, the city can add help buttons or camera technology that provides not only surveillance but also could provide metrics for determining how many people are in a certain area or which direction they are going. As well as gathering information, the SMART.NODE™ can also present information, as well. It can offer digital way-finding, notification of public transport timetables and broadcast a safety alert. The pole is even capable of supporting an EV (electric vehicle) charging station.
Many of these same solutions requested by cities also apply to campus settings. “We have quite a focus on smart campuses,” Ellis said. “It can be either a corporate campus like Microsoft’s in Redmond, WA, or a college campus. We are working directly with the campus departments, be it the facilities personnel or the department of the CIO of the campus to create the type of outcome they are looking for. It’s not about selling a product, it is about providing a solution.”
From a broadband connectivity perspective, the SMART.NODE™ enables services like WiFi access points for municipal use. The other major functionality that SMART.NODE™ provides is integrating small cells for carriers.
The municipality orders from an à la carte menu to determine what services can support their planning, design and place management and activation goals. This catalogue of services includes communications, energy, environment, transport, safety and media. ENE.HUB’s solution is modular, which allows the city to upgrade, change, add to, or remove technology over time.
With so much data being captured or disseminated by the pole, an effective tool is needed to manage the different smart services, or some of the gains will be lost. To that end, ENE.HUB built an IoT data and analytics platform, known as “e3”, to help city authorities monitor and control their smart city services. Use cases can be simply and effectively developed, allowing authorities to improve their operations and increase efficiency.
“The smart city model is at its most effective when the component parts work together to deliver even greater value,” Ellis explained. “The SMART.NODE™, e3 and smart city services are combined by ENE.HUB to create a smart ecosystem.”
Not only is ENE.HUB’s pole flexible in the services it provides, but the company will work with the city on a business model to make the deployment affordable. A city may buy the pole or share ownership with a partner such as a carrier. Through Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, ENE.HUB provides financing, as well. “We’re flexible in terms of the business model, which stands out from a competitive landscape perspective,” Ellis said.
Ellis emphasized that ENE.HUB views technology as a means to an end. It is more concerned with achieving the outcomes desired by each municipality. Some key quality-of-life indicators can be improved by 10 to 30 percent by smart technologies, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. That translates into lives saved, fewer crime incidents, shorter commutes, a reduced health burden, and carbon emissions averted. Not a bad investment at that.
For more information on outcomes provided by ENE.HUB, visit https://ene-hub.com/ or email them at email@example.com.
By J. Sharpe Smith, Inside Towers Technology Editor