Member spotlight 4.11.14: Microsoft, Qualcomm, Zipcar, Opower, LADWP

Fri, 2014-04-11 06:00 -- SCC Staff

Short takes from Council members…

India's first smart city gets Microsoft help: The Times of India reports that Microsoft will help develop Surat as India's first smart city under the guise of its CityNext initiative. The report says Microsoft, a Council Global Partner, will leverage a combination of cloud technology, mobile applications, data analytics and social networks to provide Surat with real-time data encompassing all civic services. Surat will also have systems in place to use information technology to handle natural disasters. Surat is the second largest city in the Indian state of Gujarat.

Can new Qualcomm technology triple Wi-Fi speeds? Good news for cities with spotty Wi-Fi. Technology from Council Global Partner Qualcomm could triple Wi-Fi speeds on public networks and in homes and offices. CNN Money suggests the technology could be a game-changer. Rather than slowing down as more devices connect to a network, the Qualcomm technology called MU-MIMO – for multi-user, multiple input, multiple output – "allows networks to transmit data to multiple groups of users simultaneously using algorithms that adapt on the fly to changes in usage."

Opower goes public: It's not only fun to see an innovative young company enjoy success as Virginia-based Opower has. The Council Associate Partner launched its initial public offering on April 4, adding some legitimacy to the home energy management sector that has had its share of ups and downs. It also provides a real-world example of successful analytics. Opower analyzes energy usage data to provide utility customers with information on their consumption and personalized recommendations on how to cut their bills. The company works with almost 100 utilities around the world.

Zipcar helps reduce UK pollution and road congestion: A survey of car club use in the United Kingdom came up with some interesting results. As reported by BusinessGreen, the survey found that Council Associate Partner Zipcar and similar clubs are helping reduce air pollution and reducing the number of cars on UK roadways. The survey conducted by Carplus found that the UK's 168,850 car club members tend to travel less frequently and use more fuel-efficient cars when they do. It also notes a growth area for clubs like Zipcar are corporate clients. The frequency of corporate car club usage is now higher than private usage, according to the survey.

LADWP shines in social media: A study benchmarking how electric utilities are using social media and mobile apps to improve smart grid benefits cited Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, a Council Advisor, as one of the top three in the U.S for social media usage. Twitter, Facebook and similar tools are critical in reaching customers during power outages but also in providing energy savings tips, bill pay and other customer engagement services, according to the study by Northeast Group, LLC. Key third-party vendors covered in the study -- US Utility Customer Engagement Benchmark: Social Media & Mobile Apps -- include Council Associate Partners Opower and Schneider Electric, among others.