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First EV Charger Site Suitability, Design, & Building Software Developed

President Biden wants to add 500,000 public electric vehicle chargers in the US by 2030. Currently, there are about 80,000 to 90,000 of them available. Greater adoption of electric vehicles depends on having enough public chargers so EV drivers can recharge at places like shopping centers, workplaces, hotels, apartment complexes, and sites between destinations on long-distance trips. Adding half a million new EV chargers could spur the adoption of another 25 million EVs, according to one source.

Image credit: Arup

Arup, a global engineering and consulting firm, along with several collaborators, has done much work developing software to expedite the installation of EV chargers. Called Charge4All, it specifically assists with the selection of appropriate EV charger sites as well as designing and building them. Samantha Lustado, Senior GIS Analyst on Arup’s Advanced Digital Engineering team, answered some questions for CleanTechnica about it.

How long did it take to develop the EV charging station software?

Arup worked alongside Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and three leading energy utility companies over the span of a year to develop Charge4All and assess the curbside EV charging infrastructure landscape in Southern California. We reviewed the experiences that utility companies, municipalities and agencies face when deploying public curbside EV charging infrastructure and translated that experience into opportunities for faster, more cost-effective and equitable deployment.

Charge4All sets a precedent for the future of EV charging deployment. In order to reduce the cost and improve access to expanding EV infrastructure, as well as speed up the deployment process, the industry needs to take a more data-driven approach, and we believe our tool is a solution.

Who are the intended users?

The intended audience for Charge4All includes city and state agencies, utility companies, policymakers, EVSE developers, and those keen to advance an accessible and equitable EV future.

Charge4All has been developed with input from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Burbank Water & Power, and Southern California Edison to ensure it can help users make better and more informed decisions.

What are the benefits the software provides to the users?

Charge4All will enable cities to more quickly, equitably, and cost-effectively expand EV charging infrastructure. Increased adoption of electric vehicles is a priority of California and the nation’s decarbonization strategy, as transportation is one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions.

The software allows the users to identify a regional suitable area, as well as a higher resolution of curbside suitability. Along with the site suitability outcomes of both levels of scale, Charge4All will also enable users to access overlay data such as socioeconomic demographics, transportation statistics, and existing infrastructure that was used to build upon the analysis. Users can explore various widgets that can query and visualize the data, showing new insights into the EV landscape.

 Charge4All will help scale EV charging deployment and do so in an equitable manner. In this case, an equitable manner is one that accounts for factors such as socioeconomic status, lack of off-street parking, and minimal access to low cost fuel and electricity. The geospatial software helps create a greater network of curbside EV chargers which in turn provides much-needed charging opportunities for those who do not have access to at-home charging, particularly residents of multi-unit dwellings and commercial fleet vehicles.

How will using the software support the siting and installing of more EV chargers?

As a suitability software, Charge4All streamlines the deployment of public charging points by centralizing geospatial data into one accessible place. A high-level analysis of the existing EV charging landscape helps early-stage prioritization for those trying to identify charging suitability on a regional scale. The tool considers the impact of dense areas of multi-unit dwellings, equity, and at curb level conditions to explore on-the-ground suitability. It enables users to explore curb limitations, proximity to electrical infrastructure, road types and proximity to places of interest. Charge4All conveniently displays the breadth of geospatial data that determines the EV charging’s site suitability through a digital dashboard. It accelerates the filtering of sites, leading to a reduced need for site visits and time-consuming data and analysis.

Will it primarily be used in California, or all over the US?

The Charge4All dashboard is currently in the beta testing phase in Southern California. We chose to pilot the tool in this area because California is currently home to 80% of the 84,000 public chargers in the United States, but we hope to expand future versions across the country.

How does the software support the development of more EV charging stations at multi-family dwelling sites?

The tool accounts for equity factors such as low-income and disadvantaged neighborhoods in its analysis. It supports multi-family homes where residents may not have a garage or a place to install charging stations, with the aim of developing infrastructure to enable more EV ownership across diverse demographics. It also encourages early and effective community participation to address concerns where EV charging infrastructure will lead to a loss of general parking spaces in communities.

What is its cost?

Charge4All is currently in the beta testing phase and costs are yet to be determined.

Is this the first software of its kind, or are there competitors?

Charge4All is the first ever site suitability tool to help locate, design and build public EV charging stations and overall network in an equitable manner — linking high level regional planning with street level decision-making.

Image credits: Arup

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