Consider the paradox of the modern metropolis — a collection of vibrant lives and remarkable ideas, much of it played out in unresponsive older buildings that are not attuned to the changing needs of their active inhabitants.
But there is hope for closing that gap. A notable example is found in an unlikely spot: on a windswept plain 28 miles east of Cairo. It is there, just off the road to the seaport city of Suez, that diggers, cranes and acres of half-finished buildings mark what Egyptian officials hope will soon be among the most sophisticated smart cities in the world.
Data collected and insights generated by cutting-edge smart building technologies throughout the sprawling site are expected to not only cut overall energy consumption and help meet sustainability goals, but also help improve citizen safety and productivity.
Where are the smart buildings on this route?
Smart buildings are essential parts of a scalable smart city, providing key building blocks for the centralized management and operation of services like electricity, gas and water in order to help reduce consumption and cost.
This project, which is fully funded through an investment approach and outside the Egyptian state budget, will offer a clean, efficient, and technologically advanced alternative to the crowded and ancient Cairo.
The city is intended to be the government and financial capital of the country, housing federal departments and ministries, as well as foreign embassies and the presidential palace. More than 6.5 million people are expected to live in its 440 square miles.
While the ambition of this grand effort is impressive, it’s the individual building componentry that help makes the big picture possible.
“You really can’t have a smart city without having smart buildings as a part of it,”
said Greg Turner, senior director of technical services at Honeywell.
“Ultimately, individual buildings are a critical part of a smart city’s collective and collaborative ecosystem.”
The idea of smart buildings isn’t new; there is hard-wired intelligence in essentially every structure with wireless connectivity or central climate control.
Expanding that idea citywide — of making a single structure safer and more energy efficient — has potentially world-shaping consequences.