Siemens has rolled out its new Siemens City Performance Tool that takes a snapshot of current city infrastructure and helps city leaders identify current as well as future actions cities can take to meet their climate, transportation, and energy goals. To learn a bit more about the new tool and the reports it generates, we sat down with Siemens’ Chief City Executive for California and Arizona, Dennis Rodriguez.
The tool was the natural extension of Siemens’ mastery of transportation and building solutions as it looked for a way to give cities a more accurate, more actionable long term plan that would help them deliver on their environmental and sustainability objectives. With that in mind, the tool is heavily biased towards assessing the current state of transportation and buildings to identify the biggest opportunities for cities.
Good Data In, Good Solutions Out
Dennis shared that Siemens has already partnered with 35 cities to run their data through the tool. The works starts by constructing a solid foundation of data for the tool to use, “we put in over 350 different data points and the output up to 70 different technologies that the city could/should look at.” The data entry process takes about twelve months with the bulk of the first 6 months being focused on data gathering and entry into the tool.
The tool then crunches the data to determine what is needed to reach the cities short- and long-term objectives. Dennis shared that the data collection phase is the most important step in the process as all of the results derived by the tool hinge on the foundational input data being accurate. “When you’re focused on the granular data flowing into the tool, it’s imperative that we put the best and most accurate data into the tool on the front end.”
Building a Bridge to the Future
On top of the data feeding into the tool, it also takes a look at the objectives the city wants to achieve over a specific time horizon. Dennis shared that cities, “have far-reaching sustainability goals and they work with a company like Siemens to confirm that they are working on the right things and moving in the right direction.” When partnering with the City of Los Angeles, Siemens used Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Sustainable City plan goals for 2050 as the stake in the sand.
Working with the City of Los Angeles, the project team leveraged the tool to identify pressing infrastructure issues and offer beneficial technological solutions to the city’s chronic issues. Running Los Angeles’ data through the Siemens City Performance Tool, it highlighted a few specific data points:
- To achieve Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Sustainable City plan goals by the year 2050, LA would need to transition to 100% generation of renewable electricity and 45% passenger travel by transit and active transport in the same timeframe.
- LA would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 70% by 2035 and more than 85% by 2050 if it transformed its transportation system as recommended by the tool.
- Transportation electricity consumption would increase by 1500% by 2050 versus current levels as a result of the electrification of transportation, necessitating a modernized grid.
Dennis shared that the tool is not focused on recommending legislative changes as a means of affecting change but rather, it recommends specific technological solutions to specific problems and charts out the positive impacts they will have versus the current state.
Siemens connects city leadership to its City Performance Tool through its existing relationships via its transportation and building solutions businesses but it has built a network of “Centers for Cities” around the world that are laser focused on developing solutions for cities of all sizes.
While it may feel like a tool so expansive that only large cities can afford to muster the army required to feed data into the tool, it’s actually quite the opposite. Dennis shared that, “the tool is not just designed to be implemented in large locations,” and that often, it is easier to assess smaller cities for exactly that reason. Larger cities are much more complex and thus, require more data. Dennis shared that often, smaller cities are easer for the tool to process and require less data to identify more meaningful solutions.
As far as engagement at the city level, Dennis shared that, “generally speaking, we work with the sustainability department and the environmental department and that’s where we started here in Los Angeles.” These are the departments in most cities that are on the hook for delivering less polluted air, cleaner water, and reduced traffic congestion, to name a few of the metrics the tool has the potential to assess.
Show Me the Money
Siemens has built a tool that it genuinely believes will help cities to make data-based decisions that will help them to achieve their environmental and sustainability goals. Given the company’s expertise in a wide ranging set of solutions and successes around the world implementing them, there is reason to believe it can and is delivering on the promise.
Professor Dr. Matthias Finkbeiner, Chair of Sustainable Engineering at the Technical University in Berlin, said of the tool, “There is currently no perfect tool for measuring the sustainable development of cities due to the inherent complexity of the task. The City Performance Tool of Siemens shows a way forward by going beyond a simple carbon footprint. The inclusion of further pollutants (PM10 and NOx) and further sustainability dimensions (cost efficiency and job creation) goes definitely in the right direction.”
We probed about the sales aspect of the tool – is it just a way for Siemens to funnel companies into buying more of its products and services? Siemens does believe that it offers many solutions to the problems the tool was designed to address, which also puts it in the best position to determine how all of the various solutions can work together synergistically to solve chronic, long-term problems.
Getting right to the heart of the matter, the tool looks at problems — and solutions — agnostically. For example, “one of the outputs in SF was green roofs. you can take the rooftops of SF and turn them green and that helps,” Dennis shared.
“When you look at urban trends, people are moving to city centers. Siemens has taken a keen interest.”
To learn more about Siemens’ City Performance Tool, head over to its official online home.