We had the pleasure to welcome French colleagues from the UTBM (Université de Technologie de Belfort-Montbéliard) at the HEG Arc. They have a longstanding expertise in AI applied to Smart Cities, human-computer interaction, intelligent transport systems, and so forth. UTBM and HEG Arc have been cooperating for many years.
We discussed the possibility of submitting a follow-up project to Smart CityZens, starting in 2021. The project would include academic, public and private partners from different countries, as it was the case this year. We worked on the project objectives and discussed which topics would be relevant for Smart Cities of tomorrow.
We will see our colleagues again in Belfort and in Neuchâtel, with the support of the Communauté du Savoir, and will meet with potential project partners from France and Switzerland. Let us hope that Smart CityZens will live further!
Post: G. Chappuis. Photos: J. Wirth.
New research paper
mercredi 07 Oct 2020
Two of our professors and one of our students from Samara have just published a research paper based on the results of Smart CityZens: “Issues of ensuring economic and energy security in the “smart city” system”, by Anna Zotova, Irina Svetkina and Dinara Gilmanova.
The full version of the article is available here for download. For those who do not read Russian, here is the English version of the abstract.
Abstract The publication reflects the results of research on economic security issues at the level of administrative center of the subject of the Russian Federation in the context of the development of the “smart city” system. Cutting-edge technologies are becoming a powerful engine of transformation, including the energy sector. Development of smart cities and digitalization of services require reorganization of the energy business, search of new innovative opportunities and the development of new strategies, the final result of which will be the creation of new business models for energy suppliers. As a result of largescale statistics and practical cases analysis the main (specific) smart risks, smart challenges and smart threats for the economic security system of the largest city have been classified, recommendations to modify existing business models for Russian energetic industry have been offered.
Post: G. Chappuis
Ensuring Economic Security of Administrative Center of the Russian Entity
jeudi 30 Juil 2020
A really interesting article entitled « Ensuring Economic Security of Administrative Center of the Russian Entity » and written by I. A. Svetkina has been published recently. It talks about the « smart risks », « smart threats » and « smart challenges » for the economic security of smart cities. Go check it out! https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-47458-4_63
2nd intensive week
vendredi 10 Juil 2020
Today marks the last day of
our second intensive week for the Smart CityZens project. Swiss and russian
students met virtually to finalize their work and present it to experts on
Thursday (09.07). Their projects include : smart stations for public
transportation (bus, tramways, etc.), an app (Cleverly) fostering the reduction
of energy consumption, a business model to take advantage of the blockchain
technology in the energy sector, and finally, an app which calculates the most
efficient energy mix when planning the development of city areas or real estate
We would like to thank the
experts from Swiss Federal Railways SBB, the Cities of Basel, Neuchâtel and
Samara, for their support, as well as their interesting comments and feedback.
We sincerely hope that the student projects will find their way into the cities
of tomorrow! Many thanks also to our sponsor Movetia, the Swiss agency for
exchange and mobility.
Despite its main part being
achieved, the project will continue to live on, as well as this blog.
Publications and other articles are still coming up! Moreover, students and
professors will have the chance to finally meet in Russia for a study trip in
2021, if the Covid-19 situation allows it. We are looking forward to meeting
with our Russian partners and discovering the city of Samara!
“My name is
Esther and I am thankful that I got the chance to participate in this
SmartCityZen project. I have obtained plenty of knowledge about the energy
sector in general and have learned the Russian culture through interaction with
Russian students. Further on, the intensive discussion with specialists from
public utilities and professors from different universities elevated my
perspective in the energy sector. In light of the evolving new technologies
which give rise tremendous impact on our daily life both on how do we consume
energy and how do we as a consumer can engage in energy production. The energy
sector is in the era of change, it’s unavoidable and at the pace that we cannot
imagine. The first project week in Basel and Ligerz was fruitful and I look
forward to the second project week which will be conducted online in July due
Laetitia Sudan and I am currently studying at Haute école de gestion Arc in
Neuchâtel. During my previous year I had to choose my option for the last year.
Smart Cityzens convinced me due to the fact that it is an experience in
practice. In addition to that Smart Cityzens offers to all participants the
chance to work with students from foreign country. Our topic was related to
Energy providers, which I found tough because I am studying Business
Administration and not Energy in concrete terms. Our task involves in improving
the business model from this kind of companies. Indeed, we can propose what we
want owing to new technologies. However, I am curious to discover how will be
the world of tomorrow and I am proud to “work” a bit on it.”
“My name is
Dinara Gilmanova. This year I am graduating Samara State University of
economics where I’ve been studying the world economy for 4 years. I am lucky to
be a part of the Smart CityZens project and our international team. Although I
had some experience in project development before, the topic of «Smart Energy»
was definitely new for me. After the first intensive week in Switzerland I’ve
realized that the energy sector is in the era of global transformation. With
the development of smart cities and digitalization of services it is required
to reorganize the energy business, develop new innovative opportunities and
implement cutting-edge strategies in order to create new business models for
energy providers. So, these are the aspects that our team is working on.
Anyway, we can not only see how smart technologies are changing the world for
the better, but also make our contribution to the global transformation.”
« My name is Denis Liubitsky and I am a
computer security specialist. I like everything about cutting-edge
technologies, so I didn’t hesitate a second when I knew I could be a part of
the Smart CityZens project. The main component in smart cities is the energy
that feeds a lot of smart devices in smart homes. In the future, under the
influence of digitalization, energy will take on a completely different form
for consumers. Together with my team, I had the chance to rethink the business
models of energy providers in this market transformation. This is very useful
experience for me and I look forward to seeing the world of the future that we
are working on.»
week in Switzerland
met each other the first time in Switzerland in February 2020. Moreover, we met
our teacher Alexander, who will be following us during all the project. He
explained us the needs from the energy providers from Omsk. In Siberia,
companies related to this field are totally different from Switzerland owing to
the way of thinking and culture mostly.
particularly energy providers lives from natural gas and oil. Instead of
Russia, in Switzerland we mostly live with renewable energy. Omsk got the
chance to take advantage of 300 sunny days, what an opportunity for solar
panels ? In comparison to Switzerland, they did not introduce smart meters. It
could be very useful for energy providers against “cheating”.
consumption is different as we explained it before. In Switzerland to satisfy
our needs we use the exportation from foreign countries, 30% come from foreign
countries. Moreover, we can improve our production of solar power and wind
turbine. Indeed, Switzerland has much to learn from other European countries.
As a matter of fact, the battlefield of providing energy will continue to have radical change in the upcoming years. Energy providers are facing challenges like climate change and the reduction of polluted energy already. It’s the start of the battle and we believe that companies will focus more on a holistic solution instead of providing a single solution. Energy providers should be in partnership with other participants in the ecosystem in order to diversify their service. You will find below some examples of new business models.
models at a glance
The energy provider has influence over almost every aspect of the supply chain but the least understanding of the customer. Considering the new regulatory environment providing collaborative innovation and business opportunity, offering bundled services can enable energy provider to prevent newcomers to step in and avoid splitting services off from their traditional services provided. (Mcmahon, 2020). The below picture depicts the business models which will be deployed in the next 24 months in a survey done in 2018 by Capgemini (Bigliani, Segalotto, & Skalidis, 2018). A combination of different business models with Energy as a service and Comfort as a service as the top margin contributors is the most promising way for the energy provider to survive.
model “Energy as a service” describes an energy provider is not only
required to sell energy but also provide technology, analytics, personalised
services and even access to the grid. Likewise, the “Comfort as a Service”, a model focus on providing comfort to
residential customers which considers various elements that affect energy
consumption and associated costs, and occupants’ behaviors to generate optimal
control strategies for the domestic equipment automatically. Both business
model concepts proof that energy providers are required to take further steps
to accommodate the end client’s needs. Exploiting the potential of the smart
meter which addresses the commercial and industrial (C&I) clients and
residential customer’s needs. Within the next two years, three-quarters of the
market players will move to this model. The decisive way of success is what
will be the depth of the services and the capability to take the risk of
deploying the appropriate use case.
trends have proved the « prosumer concept ». Firstly, apart from saving on energy bills,
C&I clients are envisaged to take hold of not only the electricity user
role but searching for the best possible offer in the market. Powering by the
rise of the Energy marketplace which facilitates the development of
energy optimization by combining the client’s energy consumption pattern and
saving potential, C&I should be able to reduce their electricity bill
and storage at home are other clear trends due to the significant drop in
storage price of energy and the rise of the role of solar PV. Pertinent to the
report (International Renewable Energy Agency, 2019), scaling up electricity
from solar PV is crucial for decarbonization of the world’s energy system.
Follow the wind energy which will be counted for one-third of the major
electricity generation source, solar energy would supply up to ten folds by
2050. It’s a huge market for an energy provider in Switzerland who mainly
provides the implementation of the solar panels for clients.
of the margin from the innovative business model is currently underestimated
especially in organizations from not liberalized countries due to limited
competition. As such, defensive acquisitions and active involvement in new
disruptive business models, for instance, Local P2P energy exchange platform
via blockchain technology could help to adapt to disruptive chain, for
instance, wholesale energy trading services on industry-level.
change has facilitated small-scale implementation as well as independent
transformation change in cities. As a matter of fact, except lighting, water,
and waste management, there are still huge potential or development in water
and sanitation investment
transformation elevated the bar of data value with the help of the emergence of
urban data platforms which solve the various problem and harnessing value from
it. Whereby only limited investment has been made in these areas, they provide
huge business opportunities in which energy providers can take advantage of
their presence in the territory and the exploitation of existing physical
is the Microgrid as a service which deemed to be very difficult due to
the high specificity of infrastructure from clients (e.g. hospitals,
universities, corporate campuses, data centers) and missing standards in the
In the below
section, we will depict further insight on the blockchain’s impact on energy
Blockchain is a database in the form of a dispersed register that is distributed among the various players in the electricity retail market connected to a blockchain network. The blockchain properties such as data immutability, transparency, decentralisation and manipulation resistance are highly relevant today for the retail market of electrical energy.
What is the benefit of using blockchain for
Blockchain makes it possible to create a
single trusted information space that favourably influences the organization of
the payment system.
The consumer pays the electric bills according
to the fixed and reliable data recorded in the blockchain. Electricity payments are « splitted » between generating and
electricity distribution companies by means of smart contracts, which are
digital analogues of a power supply contract. A smart contract also allows the
consumer to instantly change the energy tariff. And the power provider cannot
change rates without notice, retroactively.
The introduction of blockchain is an urgent requirement dictated by the global transformation of the industry. In December 2019 the Russian energy company «Rossetti» reported about the launch of a pilot project for automatic power accounting: the cities of Yekaterinburg and Kaliningrad became pilot sites. The company’s plans are to completely exclude the manipulation of information in the energy market, including power accounting and payments for electricity. The solution is directly integrated with smart meters as well as with the bank, thanks to which the payment chain from the end-user to the generator of electricity is organized. Data on the electricity consumption of a specific household are transmitted directly from a smart-meter to the blockchain and are displayed in a mobile application. The consumer can monitor electricity consumption in real time. Moreover, the application analyses energy consumption and can, for example, recommend that the user switch to a more advantageous tariff.
In the future, the platform will be able to
provide easy access to the energy market for new customers who not only take
power from the electricity grid but, at certain times, can provide generated or
previously accumulated electricity (prosumers). Also, the demand response
technology project is being actively developed: at peak times, when electricity
becomes expensive, the system operator can apply to the energy market for a
reduction in demand, paying consumers the difference. Another perspective is
the work with green certificates of renewable energy consumption, which is now
gaining in importance in Europe and is beginning to develop in Russia.
So far, the use of blockchain alone does not generate savings compared to the use of traditional databases. But once the blockchain is universally applied, the savings will be significant. It is formed by transparency of payments between sales and electricity grid companies, rapid detection of unauthorized connections and elimination of non-payment bills.
Asma Khatoon, Piyush Verma, Jo Southernwood, Beth Massey and Peter
Corcoran. (2019). Blockchain in Energy Efficiency: Potential Applications and
Merlinda Andoni, Valentin Robu, David Flynn, Simone Abram, Dale Geach,
David Jenkins, Peter McCallum, Andrew Peacock. (2019). Blockchain technology in
the energy sector: A systematic review of challenges and opportunities.
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. Volume 100. Pages 143-174.
Energy consumption and price reduction
mercredi 24 Juin 2020
researching how to monitor individual appliances consumption in order to
decrease peak and energy prices for end-user. That’s what we’ve found.
The first method to
separate the appliance’s consumption is obvious and that is Intrusive Load
Monitoring (ILM): use a metering device for each individual appliance that you
Non-Intrusive Load Monitoring (NILM) is the energy disaggregation technique
that provides a method to separate the individual consumption for certain
appliances, respecting consumers’ privacy and often using already-deployed
smart meters .
ILM is more precise
than NILM but it is more expensive. NILM, on the other hand, is much cheaper,
often it only needs smart meter. Let’s focus on NILM.
Main stages in NILM
Data collection: electrical data, including current, voltage, and
power data, are obtained from smart meters, acquisition boards or by using
Event detection: an event is any change in the state of an
appliance over time. An event implies variations in power and current,
which can be detected in the electrical data previously collected by means
Feature extraction: appliances provide load signature information
or features that can be used to distinguish one from another;
Load identification: using the features previously identified, a
classification procedure takes place to determine which appliances are
operating at a specified time or period, and/or their states
So, the input of
NILM is consumption characteristics, e.g. current, voltage, and the output is
which appliances are turned on/off at a given time and/or their state.
appliances that have different load profiles at a different state, that’s what
state in fourth stage means. It adds complexity to the algorithm. Another
problem is that the house can have multiple appliances of the same type. Also,
there are appliances with low consumption, for example, LED, which are hard to
disaggregate, and appliances with consumption not varying in a periodic
Thus, NILM is not
quite an easy task. Heuristic algorithms, such as Genetic Algorithms (GA) or
Particle Swarm Algorithms (PSA), along with machine learning techniques are
often used to solve that.
One of the
important applications of NILM is the Home Energy Management System (HEMS).
HEMS is responsible for scheduling appliances to reduce energy bills (Real-Time
Pricing should be present) while saving a user’s comfort. It is also
responsible for renewable energy system management if any. HEMS not only saves
user’s money but also reduces consumption peak, which is good for energy
producers because they can use fewer power generators.
Next, there are two
examples of HEMS.
In  the
following scheme was used:
Controller (EMC) uses the Constrained Swarm Intelligence-based Consumer-Centric
DSM module and database of historical records to disaggregate energy and
schedule appliances. Also, HEMS is taking into consideration alternative energy
(solar power on the image).
reduction in peak power consumption is achieved by 13.97% in that scheme.
In  the
following scheme was used:
Device is present. It is used to get consumption data. ZigBee-based Plug-load
Control Relays are used to switch appliances on and off. Also, there is a
computer that runs NILM algorithm (upper) and Home Gateway (lower) which has
Database and communicates with ZigBee-based Plug-load Control Relays.
Homeowners can get access to data using an internet browser.
NILM in that scheme
is pretty complex:
It has three
stages: off-line load learning & modeling, on-line load monitoring, and
day-ahead in-home load scheduling. Such techniques as Hard c-Means clustering,
sequential forward selection (SFS), hard c-means-based k-nearest neighbor
classifier (k-NNC) are used. (See  for details).
The first and
second ways use ILM, while the third way, which is cheaper, uses NILM. In a
third way you should install a clamp to your power cable. The company claims
that its patented NILM has a 70% average accuracy.
We came to the
conclusion that for our project we could use NILM. NILM is pretty complex but
real task. It’s already used by companies, such as Smappee, but may be not very
accurate. We are not experts in field, so we can try ready solutions. For that
purpose NILM toolkit  would be handy, which gives opportunity to evaluate
different NILM algorithms on open datasets, such as REDD, BLUED, PLAID, REFIT,
TRACEBASE, WHITED, UK-DALE, DRED . Core idea of our project is similar to
HEMS, maybe we should try to schedule appliances too.
Students: Iolanda De Almeida Oliveira, Pavel Ivliev, Michael Kämpf, Igor Kirianov
Supervising Professor: Zarina Charlesworth
A Ruano, A Hernandez, J Ureña, M Ruano, J Garcia NILM Techniques for Intelligent Home Energy Management and Ambient Assisted Living: A Review. Energies 12, 2203 (2019)
YH Lin, YC Hu Residential consumer-centric demand-side management based on energy disaggregation-piloting constrained swarm intelligence: Towards edge computing. Sensors 2018, 18, 1365.
YH Lin, MS Tsai An Advanced Home Energy Management System Facilitated by Nonintrusive Load Monitoring With Automated Multiobjective Power Scheduling. IEEE Trans. Smart Grid 2015, 6, 1839-1851.
Nipun Batra, Jack Kelly, Oliver Parson, Haimonti Dutta, William Knottenbelt, Alex Rogers, Amarjeet Singh, Mani Srivastava. NILMTK: An Open Source Toolkit for Non-intrusive Load Monitoring. In: 5th International Conference on Future Energy Systems (ACM e-Energy), Cambridge, UK. 2014. DOI:10.1145/2602044.2602051 arXiv:1404.3878
How Corona virus could affect Smart Cities
mercredi 27 Mai 2020
In the past month, several apps such as the CovApp have
surfaced on the internet.
Their main goal is to target infected individuals and retrace their whereabouts to help identify potentially infected people.
But why and how could this affect Smart Cities ?
Well, the answer is simple. Data management is one of the
key activities of Smart Cities.
By controlling traffic flux in heavily frequented areas such as public buildings, parks, train stations and airports, Smart City data centers could easily target and identify virus carriers.
The information could then be passed on to local Healthcare centers which will contact the aforementioned individuals and invite them to a medical check-up.
The Covid-19 crisis has shown the world the importance of traceability, transparency and a country’s capacity to take immediate action.
In this regard, could Smart Cities be part of such a
Energy Challenge Neuchâtel
mercredi 06 Mai 2020
Great News about
Cleverly – the clever app for your home!
intensive week in February 2020 and the following weeks, we have submitted our
project to the Energy Challenge 2020 of the Canton of Neuchâtel.
therefore competing with various other projects for the initial investment of
CHF 3’000.–. This seed capital will help us to create a first prototype of our
app and start our collaboration with partners such as local governments,
communities and corporations.
believe that a community platform is needed to transform our future into a
bright, electrifying one! We will keep you updated.
Your Cleverly Team
Students: Iolanda De Almeida Oliveira, Pavel Ivliev, Michael Kämpf, Igor Kirianov
Supervising Professor: Zarina Charlesworth
Environmental impact of smart grids
mercredi 22 Avr 2020
agree that it is rather a question of when than of if the smart grid will be
introduced (Tuballa & Abundo, 2016). To date, we have been writing and talking about the potential
future business models and necessary steps in order to initiate the proclaimed transition
process. However, we did not spend sufficient time on elaborating the potential
environmental impact a smart grid may create.
part of the smart grid research has been focusing on the technological, legal
and social aspects of a smart grid transformation (Pratt et al., 2010). The main measures of success stated are “improved reliability and
cost-effective operation” (p. 5). However, as Pratt et al. argue, smart grids may
create a potentially significant benefit for governmental climate change
actions and therefore may propose an opportunity for accelerated,
state-sponsored programs. To date, most empirical research regarding Co2
and energy savings in connection with smart grids are based on assumptions and
represent solely estimates calculated by the respective studies (Hledik, 2009). Therefore, it is important to remember, that the actual
environmental impact may be above or beyond the intervals provided by
In order to
demonstrate a certain consensus between different studies, three specific
researches will be briefly summarized. For further information on the different
categories and mechanisms considered within each study as well as the underlying
empirical data, please refer to the bibliography at the end of this blog post.
First, the study
conducted by Pratt et al. (2010) for the United States Department of Energy focused on eight
mechanisms impacting the energy consumption and the generation mix. One of the
greatest impacts is created by information and feedback systems according to
Pratt et al with close to three precent. The findings of the study suggest that
the energy consumption and therewith linked Co2 emission may be reduced by 18%
(p. 7), assuming a 100% smart grid implementation.
study conducted by Rohmund, Wikler, Faruqui, Siddiqui, & Tempchin (2009) is based on overall seven mechanisms and their respective
influence. Similar to Pratt et al., the study attributes the greatest reduction
potential for feedback systems on the energy usage. The authors of the study
state the interval of the potential energy consumption and therewith linked Co2
emission reduction between 3.1% and 11.3% (p. 125)
Third, Hledik (2009) uses in his study five different mechanisms for measuring the
potential energy consumption and Co2 emission reduction. In contrast to the
research of Pratt et al. and Rohmund et al., Hledik argues that the major
reduction potential is offered by load shifting and decentralized production
and distribution. Overall, Hledik estimates the overall potential reduction to
lay approximately between 5.1% and 15.7% of the total output (p. 38).
The aim of this
brief comparison of the findings of current empirical research is, to
demonstrate that governmental actors may consider the implementation of smart
grids as a viable option for achieving their set climate goals (EU Commission Task Force for Smart Grids, 2016;
Hledik, 2009). It is
undisputable that smart grids create a positive externality regarding climate
change and therefore propose an interesting additional measurement for climate
for governments, however, is the non-existence of reliable research based on
real-world data due to the lack of large-scale smart grid initiatives (EU Commission Task Force for Smart Grids, 2011). Nevertheless, we believe that smart grids have to be discussed on
a national level and supported by sufficient funding in order to diversify the
national climate actions.
Authors: Iolanda De Almeida Oliveira, Pavel Ivliev, Michael Kämpf, Igor Kirianov
Supervising Professor: Zarina Charlesworth
EU Commission Task
Force for Smart Grids. (2011). Task Force Smart Grids Expert Group 2 :
Regulatory Recommendations for Data Safety , Data Handling and Data Protection
Report. Task Force for Smart Grids.
EU Commission Task Force for Smart Grids.
(2016). Smart Electricity Grids.
Hledik, R. (2009). How Green Is the Smart
Grid? Electricity Journal, 22(2), 29–41.
Pratt, R. G., Balducci, P., Gerkensmeyer,
C., Katipamula, S., Kintner-Meyer, M. C. W., Sanquist, T. F., … Secrets, T. J.
(2010). The smart grid: an estimation of the energy and CO2 benefits. United
States Department of Energy.
Rohmund, I., Wikler, G., Faruqui, A.,
Siddiqui, O., & Tempchin, R. (2009). Assessment of Achievable Potential
for Energy Efficiency and Demand Response in the U.S. (2010 – 2030). EPRI.
Tuballa, M. L., & Abundo, M. L. (2016).
A review of the development of Smart Grid technologies. Renewable and
Sustainable Energy Reviews, 59, 710–725.