City of Dubuque Launches Smarter Electricity Portal

Sept. 1, 2011
The Smarter Energy Cloud in Dubuque, Iowa, will enable citizens to access information about their energy usage and habits and share best practices through an electricity portal/website over a six-month period.

The Smarter Energy Cloud in Dubuque, Iowa, will enable citizens to access information about their energy usage and habits and share best practices through an electricity portal/website over a six-month period. The electricity portal is now available to volunteer households in Dubuque.

This application is part of the Smarter Electricity Pilot Study in which data will be collected and analyzed over the next several months, providing these volunteer households with information, insights, and actionable intelligence to potentially lower their energy costs. Dubuque is the first city in Iowa where 1000 smart electricity meters have been installed at volunteer households.

The study's goal is to demonstrate how informed and engaged citizens can help themselves by saving money and conserving energy, making their community more sustainable. By providing citizens and city officials with an integrated view of energy consumption, the project will encourage informed changes in usage resulting in conservation and cost reduction.

The city is now expanding its portfolio of smarter sustainable offerings to its citizens. The study was a collaboration of IBM, the City of Dubuque, Alliant Energy - Interstate Power and Light, and the Iowa Office of Energy Independence. The study will run from July to November 2011 and initial study results will be available by December 2011.

As the City of Dubuque continues to enhance its integrated sustainability approach, IBM's technology will interface automated metering technology from Alliant Energy to monitor energy consumption data and provide near real-time visibility into the overall city energy consumption. To accomplish this, IBM has built the IBM Smarter City Sustainability Model, which is a cloud-delivered asset that provides the city with an integrated view of its water and energy management. This model provides a combination of deep analytics to generate personalized insights, social computing to allow volunteers to collaborate, and actionable intelligence that allows citizens interested in changing consumption patterns to understand the impact of their actions. This last aspect makes it a powerful system to reinforce changes and sustain them in future.

New technologies are capable of digitizing and connecting city systems, so they can sense, analyze and integrate data, and respond intelligently to the needs of citizens. IBM, together with the City of Dubuque and business partners, will revitalize the city's systems to become smarter and more efficient in order to meet the city's "Sustainable Dubuque" vision, which integrates economic prosperity, social/cultural vibrancy, and environmental integrity.

The smarter electricity meter system will monitor energy consumption every 15 minutes and will collect and securely communicate anonymous data to the IBM Research Cloud. Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand. Organizations are looking to cloud computing to foster rapid innovation and decision making, for the agility needed to respond quickly in today's highly competitive environment, to reduce capital and operational costs, and an environment that scales easily to effectively meet customer needs. The data being collected will be anonymous and contain no confidential information. In the cloud, the data will be analyzed to trigger alerts and insights about ways of saving energy such as the amount of phantom loads which drain energy by being connected all the time. Volunteers can only view their own consumption habits while city management will be provided with aggregate data.

"One of many enhancements that automated meters provide is real-time data collection. With help, consumers can understand their usage patterns and make informed decisions on how to adjust those habits to save money and conserve resources," says Milind Naphade, Program Director, Smarter City Services Research. "Our energy portal has these unique personalized decision support capabilities based on advanced analytics and social computing. This portal can be used by any utility deploying smart meters."

This study comes on the heels of a similar study performed using smart water meters in 2010 which resulted in a 6.6% reduction in water consumption for pilot households that were empowered with consumption information provided by a smart water meter system.

In September 2009, IBM and Dubuque announced a collaboration aimed at making this community of 60,000 one of the first "smarter" sustainable cities in the U.S. Dubuque is recognized as a national leader in sustainability with its forward-thinking public policy and, together with IBM, will address the ever-increasing demands of cities to deliver vital services such as water management, energy and transportation, all while reducing the community's impact on the environment.

Additionally in 2009, IBM and leaders of Iowa's business and governmental communities opened an IBM technology services delivery center -- located in the historic Roshek Building in downtown Dubuque.

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