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The Art of Smart: 5 ways Connected Kerb aims to power smart cities

Imagine living in a city where your transportation wants and needs are catered for - quickly, affordably and sustainably. 

Here at Connected Kerb, we believe that developing green, commercially sustainable and socially equitable solutions is critical to achieving net zero.

Cities are diverse in terms of their use of space, infrastructures and services that support them so there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. But using technology, data and inclusive collaboration, communities can deliver long-term positive change.  

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What is a 'smart city'? 

Smart cities can be defined as “the effective integration of physical, digital and human systems in the built environment to deliver sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future for its citizens” (IBM). Alternatively, smart cities could be considered a process rather than a static outcome, in which “increased citizen engagement, hard infrastructure, social capital and digital technologies make cities more liveable, resilient and better able to respond to challenges” (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy). 

Whichever viewpoint you take, electric vehicles will play a huge role in the drive toward smart cities and charging infrastructure is at the centre of that evolution.  

Here are five ways which we believe Connected Kerb can power them: 

1. The ‘Street USB’: Long-lasting, future-proofed infrastructure

Our charging points do more than just charge vehicles. Connecting to fast fibre, they can support future technologies such as IoT, 5G roll-out, air quality and temperature sensors which provide great data insight, contributing to a greener environment, connecting communities and giving EV users long-lasting, future proofed infrastructure for many years. 

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Furthermore, the modular design or our charging points means that our enabling infrastructure can lie underground until EV demand rises, at which point the overground socket is installed. Maintenance is easy and there is no need to excavate the ground multiple times. Thinking smart means thinking about tomorrow. 

2.  Using Data To Cater For Later 

Our charging points will provide councils with a range of data that will allow them to plan services or initiatives on aspects such as air quality, traffic flow, parking management and e-scooter/bike share and car clubs. They will provide real visibility of their public spaces showing utilisation rates and facilitate planning for further deployments of charging points. Thinking smart means basing decisions on real-time evidence and predictive, artificial intelligence-based models which underpin Connected Kerb’s approach. 

 3. Charging Point Site Selection 

We don't just deploy charging points anywhere. Our site selection tool takes into account a host of different data insights on both the physical site and the demographic data that affect their usage. This provides a detailed outlook on the physical demands of installation – for example power cables and road junctions - alongside local resident factors such as car density, existing EV usage and transport habits. Using a centralised tool allows us to add data far earlier to consultations with clients, providing data-driven deployment and the ability for the client to monitor charging point usage. 

Furthermore, we always deploy a number of charging points in the same area so there are enough for multiple EV drivers. This is all part of our strategy to make EV charging accessible to all, regardless of location, social status or physical ability. Thinking smart is also about thinking inclusively. 

 4. The choice to charge when cheapest 

We have undertaken the UK’s first trial of public smart charging, Agile Streets, in streets and car parks across Hackney, Shropshire, Glasgow and East Lothian. This allows EV users to choose to charge when cheapest, for example during times of low demand, such as at night or when there is a surplus of renewable sources such as wind or solar. This provides users with more affordable tariffs that are usually only accessible to people charging at home. It also reduces the strain on the Grid, particularly in cities where electricity demand may be particularly high.  

 

5. Load balancing and load management 

Smart-charging is also about being able to control charging according to need. That’s where our load balancing and management system comes in. 

For example, a business may choose to give priority charging to vehicles seen as high priority, such as field-based vehicles. In this instance the system can be configured so that whenever they plug in, a larger proportion of the available energy is provided to these vehicles, rather than those that might be stationary for the majority of the day.   

load balancing

This ensures that those vehicles that can wait, do, and those that need to get back on the road as soon as possible, can.  By using a dynamic cloud-based load management system, expensive power supply upgrades are avoided. Where supply is limited, the software allocates available capacity to chargers, ensuring vehicles are charged as quickly as possible - all with no additional strain placed upon the grid connection.  

So while there is way to go yet till smart cities fully materialise, the journey has begun. Connected Kerb has set the wheels in motion. And we can’t wait to keep exploring a world of endless possibility.