Accenture to Help Amsterdam in Its Ambitious Smart City Program


“Bailout” may have been the defining term of 2008, but “smart” — as in smart grid or smart home — is shaping up to be a serious contender for 2009. Adding information technology to various aspects of existing modern life got another boost this past week when Amsterdam kicked off the initial phase of its Smart City program, which aims to make it the first city in the European Union to implement smart technology into its electricity distribution system. Amsterdam said today that it selected consulting firm Accenture to help develop and implement the program.

Under the Accenture deal, the firm will manage the integration of smart grid technology such as smart meters, oversee the analysis and use of data gleaned from the smart grid buildout, and support other carbon-reducing projects. Financial details weren’t disclosed.

The city of Amsterdam, energy firms and private companies in coming years are expected to invest more than $1 billion to help speed the adoption of electric vehicles, smart grid and building technologies in the European city. As part of the city’s smart grid buildout, the Dutch utility operator Alliander is planning to invest about €100 million ($138 million) per year until 2016 to upgrade its electric grid. And several dozen other projects reportedly are in the pipeline, most of them as pilots that are expected to ramp over the next several years depending on their success.

The first phase of the Smart City program includes the installation of smart meters with data served up to in-home energy displays and the creation of a “climate street” in a popular shopping district that will incorporate what the city calls sustainable waste collection, tram stops and street and façade lighting. The initial phase will also include a “ship-to-the-grid project” in which commercial vessels and river cruisers — Amsterdam is built around canals and is heavily reliant on ships for commerce — will be connected to the electric grid for power when docked.

Besides Accenture, the city has begun inking deals with other private companies as part of its efforts to embrace clean technologies. IBM (s IBM) and Cisco (s CSCO) reportedly have been selected to provide technology for a pilot project that will install energy displays in 500 Amsterdam homes that will deliver data collected from smart meters. More than 200,000 homes could be using the displays by 2011. Campbell, Calif.-based Coulomb Technologies has been selected to provide Amsterdam with 45 of its electric vehicles charging stations. The city plans to deploy 200 charging stations by 2012 that are expected to fuel 10,000 electric cars by 2015.

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