High resolution real-time weather forecasting

With over 50% of the world population living in cities and a projected two-thirds of the population living in cities in 2030 (UN-Habitat), accurate weather forecasting becomes an important tool to respond timely and mitigate risks in cities. Extensive conurbations like the Pearl River Delta, Tianjin-Beijing, Yangtze River Delta, New York-Boston and (mega) cities like Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Jakarta, Manila, Los Angeles, Lagos, London, Hanoi, Bangalore have important features in common: dense populations, impervious built surfaces, significant emissions of pollutants, heat and waste, etc.(WMO). Large urban areas have differentiated weather patterns distributed across the city or metropolitan area. High resolution real-time weather forecasting becomes ever more important in order to forecast impacts, to communicate timely to urban populations at risk and to take right decisions in deploying emergency services in cities. It can also provide the evidence for adaptation measures among others the location of flood retention areas or the implementation of smart sewage systems that can be controlled as needed. High resolution weather forecasting can also provide diversified data on energy consumption and production of different neighbourhoods in the city and the way smart grids should respond to distributed peaks. In an urbanised world the weather forecast can no longer be seen as an external factor as the urban atmospheric conditions are impacted by emissions, pollution, heat island effects, urban form and other environmental factors. High resolution weather forecasting is increasingly focusing on air quality in addition to temperature, humidity and precipitation which is a signal that urban meteorology, climate and environmental research could evolve in more integrated city services (Urban Climate, Baklanov, Grimond). High resolution real-time weather forecasting for urban areas is a field that requires not only the technical instruments, data collection and interpretation, but also sophisticated comparative analysis between urban datasets available in cities, accurate algorithms, policies and governance models for risk mitigation.
Picture: Antony Pratap CC2.0

Decentralised Renewables

Decentralised Renewables offer an alternative for connections to the grid. In Africa 110 million of the 600 million urban dwellers still have no access to electricity (the Conversation). “Pay-as-you-go solar systems and appliances, for example, can provide a much lower barrier to entry (as opposed to fixing the last mile to the grid, red.) Compared to the high upfront connection costs in Kenya, a 15-watt solar home system costs on average USD $9 per month for 36 months after which point the household owns its system. (the Conversation). The solution to the challenge of financing the scale-up of Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) energy access lies not so much in the development of new initiatives but in the use and redirection of existing approaches for PAYG, particularly the use of credit guarantees, lines of credit, technical assistance, and investment in a “fund of funds.” (WRI).
As SmartCityStudio has discussed earlier in the posts of the platform is that cities will not become smart with technology only. The policy and finance environment is crucial to succeed in using data and technology for better analytics, for new systems and for decentralised solutions as mentioned above. National governments have a responsibility in the ambition to let smart cities thrive. According to the Innovation and Technology Foundation: “While national governments should always be involved in supporting innovation, their main goal with smart cities is to enact policies that set in motion significant shifts in how cities operate that will allow this evolution to be self-sustaining.” Additionally the international community and the private sector can acellerate implementation of decentralised renewables. End of 2016 the “Green Climate Fund agreed to become the anchor investor in a $3.5 billion debt fund for decentralised renewables proposed by Deutsche Bank AG” “Which will initially focus on Nigeria, Benin, Namibia, Tanzania and Kenya”. (Thomson Reuters Foundation News)
Picture: Kibera, Kenya, Rogier van den Berg