Member spotlight 4.25.14: S&C resiliency tool, MasterCard on cash to digital, Camgian IoT system, Zipcar and RideScout, ASU hosts muni finance event, MTA tries battery storage

Fri, 2014-04-25 06:00 -- SCC Staff

This week's short takes from Council Partners and Advisors…

S&C's submersible switchgearNew submersible S&C Electric product promotes resiliency: Communities at risk from rising sea levels due to climate change and/or severe weather and flooding will want to take note of a new submersible switchgear product from Council Global Partner S&C Electric. As S&C Electric's Tim Qualheim points out, many communities are eager to see power lines buried as a way to reduce weather-related outages. But that doesn't work if the equipment you put underground will be damaged by flooding. S&C's new product is completely submersible. It's resistant to water – even saltwater – and to motor oil, cleaning solvents and other corrosive elements. Products like these give utilities more tools to improve resiliency. “Communities worldwide are actively working to reduce the impact of storms and natural disasters by hardening critical infrastructure like the electric power system,” says Phil Fahey, VP, Switching and Protection Products for S&C. “Vista SD Switchgear gives utilities a new option to increase power system resilience. It helps protect against one of the biggest reliability challenges to underground power systems: flooding.”

Ann CairnsMasterCard exec on government role in cash-to-digital conversion: A fascinating Silicon Republic interview with Ann Cairns, MasterCard's head of international markets, talks about the future of money and innovation, secure commerce, mobile-first economies and much more. And though it seems smart payment technologies have progressed quickly, Cairns points out that there are 2.5 billion people in the world who have yet to open a bank account and that 85% of all transactions are still in cash form. The cost to reconcile all that cash can be as much as 1.5% of a country's GDP, she says. Using Ireland as an example, Cairns notes that would add up to €3.5 billion a year in costs. The solution? Government stepping in to help citizens grapple with their high dependence on cash and checks (and the benefits of converting from cash to digital).  “What works is government stepping in," she says. "How is the Irish Government managing its own procurement? It should be going electronic, especially when it comes to things like paying benefits and cutting down on fraud. It’s the responsibility of a government to show the way forward.”

Camgian and Vanderbilt take on facility efficiency: Camgian Microsystems, a provider of  advanced sensing technologies and solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT) market and a Council Associate Partner, teamed with the School of Engineering at Vanderbilt University to prototype a new IoT energy intelligence system for the facility management market. Effectively capturing and processing usage data from large buildings can provide facility managers with a powerful tool for reducing expenses in their operations, according to Camgian. However, cost effective collection, communication, and analytical processing of this data across large, distributed facilities is a significant challenge. “The IoT market is a key strategic initiative for Camgian and we appreciate Vanderbilt’s support of our product development efforts in this space," said Gary Butler, Camgian chairman and CEO. He added that Camgian will utilize the prototype and research from the project to better understand the needs of customers for the development of an edge computing device to be released later this year.

Zipcar teams with RideScout: The "wheels when you want them" car-sharing company Zipcar, a Council Associate Partner, announced a national partnership with RideScout, which helps people find and use ground transportation of all sorts. The RideScout app, which is free on iOS and Android,  included Zipcar as part of a pilot that will provide users the locations of thousands of cars in 22 markets nationwide available for reservation by Zipcar members. RideScout aggregates ground transportation services, including public transit, private options, and social rideshare, allowing people to search and compare options on demand and in real time. “Increasingly, we’re seeing our own members create a portfolio approach to transportation -- picking the right mode for the trip,” said Brian Harrington, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Zipcar. “RideScout will make it easier for our members -- and anyone -- to get from point A to point B in the most efficient, cost effective and sustainable manner.”

ASU hosts annual local government finance conference: The May 8-9 conference in Phoenix is put on by the Arizona State University School of Public Affairs Center – the Council Advisor that developed the Smart Cities Financing Guide. The annual conference helps practitioners and public officials examine the core principles of municipal finance, focusing on current priorities, perspectives, deal structures and best practices that attendees can take back to their home communities for implementation.

New York's MTA tries vanadium battery storage: An energy storage system designed to reduce power costs will be deployed at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) building in downtown Manhattan. MTA is a Council Advisor and a big believer in energy storage, according to Bill Radvak, CEO of American Vanadium Corp., the company that is installing the system. The $1.2 million project will feature three vanadium-flow batteries, according to a Bloomberg report. American Vanadium is hoping the project will validate the technology as a way to reduce utility bills. MTA plans to charge the batteries at night when power costs less and discharge them when it is more expensive, Bloomberg says.