Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 52

Just outside Birmingham,
Alabama, 62 homes in
the Reynolds Landing
neighborhood are connected
to the first community-scale
microgrid in the Southeast.

development is more of a crystal ball to help stakeholders see into
the future than it is a model for the present.
"We really wanted to try to get an understanding of how policy
changes and technology developments might change our business,"
says Jim Leverette, a lead research engineer on the Smart Neighborhoods project team for Alabama Power. "We decided the best way
to do that would be to work with partners to build a facility, to create as much of one possible future today, to see how it could change
the way a utility serves customers in the real world. Without real
customer interactions, you're forced to rely on assumptions about
how people will act, which is a huge variable."
Alabama Power is far from the only organization scrambling
to get a handle on the future. At conferences and in marketing
materials, "smart" is the word of the day, especially for city- and
neighborhood-scale development where data analytics and connected systems can yield huge efficiencies. But presently, a gap exists
between rhetoric and reality.
"There are a lot of interdependencies between really big systems,"
says Scott Stallard, a vice president at Black & Veatch. "Engineers,
through our tools and processes, are helping people understand how
to work across system boundaries."
The engineering community needs to be active and knowledgeable and drive the conversation around smart cities, says Nancy E.
Clanton, president of Clanton & Associates. "I can see some huge
opportunities, and there's no one better to delve into this than engineering firms," Clanton says. "We're innovators. Let's innovate the
city of the future."
GETTING 'SMART' STARTED

The "smart" label has been derided by critics who see it as a meaningless buzzword. But the term applies to several real measures that

are undeniably changing the way cities and
neighborhoods operate-or will have a
significant impact in the near future.
"Everybody likes to talk about things
that are 'smart,' but the joke is, if you
put 100 engineers in a room, you'll get
100 different definitions," says Michael
Beehler, a vice president at Burns &
McDonnell. "If we're going to talk about
advancements in technology, we ought to
be able to tell each other-and certainly
tell laypeople-about the things we have
a vision for."
For Beehler, the phrase "smart city"
connotes the interconnectedness of basic
infrastructure, such as water and wastewater, transportation and mobility, energy, and communications.
Typically, the term also applies to data analytics initiatives, as well
as to efforts to make cities more sustainable and resilient.
Beehler acknowledges that more civic leaders are talking about
smart solutions than implementing them. Part of the problem is
that new solutions are constantly emerging, and the marketplace
is still sorting out winners from losers as well as standardizing the
frameworks for tying different technologies together.
"If we're looking at technology that churns every 18 to 24
months, but we're building infrastructure that's going to last for 40
or 60 years, there's a real challenge there," he says.
Beehler says engineering firms should be designing systems today
that have the capacity for added intelligence tomorrow. Engineering
firms, he says, should also live by the motto, "Think big, start small,
move fast."
"We advocate for innovation neighborhoods that are no more
than 1 square mile," Beehler says. "You can roll things out on a very
small scale and see how they work."
The city of Pittsburgh recently put out a request for proposals to
convert to LED streetlights, which Beehler calls the "low-hanging
fruit" of smart city solutions. But, he notes, the city is also using the
upgrade as an opportunity to build out a broadband network that
will support untold future use cases.
That's exactly the approach recommended by Clanton, whose
firm specializes in illumination and has worked with cities including
San Jose, San Diego, Anchorage, Seattle and Denver.
"All of your streetlights are potential nodes for a smart city," Clanton says. "We're proposing that cities run fiber to every single pole.
Every time you're tearing up or repaving a road, just make sure you
get that fiber in. If you don't know what you're going to do with it
yet, that's OK."

"If we're looking at technology that churns every 18 to
24 months, but we're building infrastructure that's going
to last for 40 or 60 years, there's a real challenge there."
MICHAEL BEEHLER
BURNS & MCDONNELL

52

ENGINEERING INC.

MAY / JUNE 2018



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc - May/June 2018

Engineering Inc - May/june 2018
Contents
From Acec to You
Market Watch
Legislative Action
2018 Annual Convention Recap
Acec 2018 Engineering Excellence Awards
Smart City Solutions
Mastering Business Communications
Powering Up Puerto Rico
Personal Philanthropy
Mergers and Acquisitions
Members in the News
Business Insights
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Intro
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Engineering Inc - May/june 2018
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Cover2
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Contents
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 2
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 3
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - From Acec to You
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 5
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Market Watch
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 7
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Legislative Action
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 9
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 2018 Annual Convention Recap
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 11
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 12
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 13
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 14
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 15
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Acec 2018 Engineering Excellence Awards
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 17
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 18
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 19
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 20
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 21
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 22
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Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 46
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 47
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 48
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 49
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Smart City Solutions
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 51
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 52
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 53
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 54
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 55
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Mastering Business Communications
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 57
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 58
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 59
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 60
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 61
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Powering Up Puerto Rico
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 63
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 64
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 65
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Personal Philanthropy
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 67
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 68
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 69
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Mergers and Acquisitions
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 71
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 72
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Members in the News
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 74
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 75
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Business Insights
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Cover3
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Cover4
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