Dubuque, Iowa to develop smarter city initiative


Roy D. Buol,
Dubuque Mayor
Dubuque, IA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — September 18, 2009 – The City of Dubuque, Iowa has entered into a collaboration with IBM aimed at making this community of 60,000 one of the first “smarter” sustainable cities in the United States.

IBM’s first smart city initiative outside Europe, the aim is to develop new “smarter” technologies and implementation strategies to create an international model of sustainability for communities of 200,000 and under, where over 40 percent of the U.S. population resides.

Dubuque, a city that is recognized as a national leader in sustainability with its forward-thinking public policy, together with IBM, will address the ever increasing demands of cities to deliver vital services such as energy and water management, and transportation, all while reducing the community’s impact on the environment.

“The goal of this collaboration is to develop and pilot a systematic mechanism to give consumers and businesses the information they need to make informed decisions about how they consume resources like electricity, water, natural gas, and oil,” said Robert Morris, vice president of IBM Research.

In addition to IBM and the City of Dubuque, the current partnership is planned to include local and regional private businesses, non profit organizations, local and state government agencies, and several federal agencies. The first phase of the smart city partnership includes two projects to enhance the city’s and its citizens’ understanding of their energy consumption and water management, in order to reduce costs and the overall carbon footprint. To accomplish this, IBM will build a platform for real time integrated sustainability monitoring to provide the city with an integrated view of its energy management, including energy consumed by the electric grid, water system, and general city services.

The City is currently implementing a city-wide water meter replacement project and has worked with local manufacturer A.Y. McDonald to integrate an unmeasured flow reducer device. This locally manufactured device is designed to augment the water meter in providing the most accurate measurement possible during low flow use. The new system will allow consumers to identify waste and consider corrective measures which will translate into better water utilization and energy savings. Reduction in water use will reduce use of both energy and chemicals, resulting in significant savings. As the City of Dubuque enhances its water management system, IBM’s technology will interface with the water systems to ingest water consumption data and give city staff real time visibility into the overall city water consumption. IBM Research plans to also build new service systems integration, data management, and analytic technologies that will create new insights for consumers and city policymakers.

According to surveys, 30 percent of households have water leaks (leaky faucet, toilet, etc.). The new system will allow consumers and the City Water Department to identify waste and promote changed behavior which will translate into better water utilization and energy savings. As part of the water meter replacement project, the City of Dubuque is creating a rebate program for costs associated with repairing leaks identified by the new metering system. The City will budget $10,000 annually for matching funds to fix leaks and reduce costs for water customers.

“Dubuque will create a replicable model for viability, livability and equity for communities of 200,000 or less and create a sustainable legacy for generations to come,” said City Mayor Roy D. Buol. “It will also save residents and businesses money and create an international brand for this community, helping to recruit businesses and workforce, serve as a major recruitment tool for area colleges, and it will accelerate local business growth.”
In August IBM opened a new technology services delivery center in downtown Dubuque.