The City of Johannesburg executive major Mpho Parks Tau, in South Africa, has a vision for his city of 4.4 million people – to create a smart city using information technology to improve municipal services and efficiencies.

The power distributor in charge of making this happen is City Power, a bulk buyer of electricity with a customer base of 420,000 customers.

Mdu Nzimande, director engineering services, City Power Johannesburg, said at the Itron Africa Users’ Conference in Cape Town: “City Power’s smart city approach needs a backbone.

“Rolling out high-speed broadband, full deployment of remote terminal units, automating the network, integrating advanced security technology and moving towards optimized maintenance regime is essential to phase one of the project.”

While the power company is working on phase one by installing fibre optic cables across the city, it recognises that it needs to get a key thing in place before the vision will become a reality.

Mr Nzimande said: “As soon as we can stabilise our revenue and improve collections, then the possibilities are endless.

“We want to see integration in water, mobility, energy storage, street lighting, traffic lighting and disaster management but we need to collect as much money as possible.”

“Our aspiration is for our collection rate to be as close to 100 per cent as possible.”

City Power has installed 3,000 smart meters and plans to roll out a total of 50,000 smart meters by end June 2013. Over the next 3 years, a further 250,000 meters will be in place, 100,000 of which will be prepayment.

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