The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
The “Smart City” of Chattanooga is the focus of an ongoing study between Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and EPB, the publicly owned electric power distribution and telecommunications company that serves approximately 180 thousand homes and businesses in a 600-square mile area in the greater Chattanooga area and Hamilton County.
ORNL – the largest Department of Energy lab in the United States – in partnership with EPB, is studying how the smart power grid in Chattanooga can be used to improve energy efficiency, remotely control electric-powered appliances and devices, and reduce outages.
The ongoing study did not prevent nearly 15 thousand residents in Hamilton County from going without power during the recent arctic blast just before Christmas. With temperatures in the single digits, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) required local power companies, including EPB, to reduce their electric load to shore up TVA’s generation and transmission grid. Customers were notified that there would be periodic outages of 15 minutes, though some reported longer time frames where they were without electricity.
One of only two “smart” cities in the United States that have agreed to adopt new technology as part of the World Economic Forum’s G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance, Chattanooga – through EPB – pioneered the nation’s first citywide “Gigabit” internet service in 2009.
EPB began by building a community-wide fiber optic network with more than 9,000 miles of lines for its 600-square mile service area and then built out the city’s smart grid. That grid now encompasses more than 200 thousand smart devices across the system which includes, among other things, over a thousand IntelliRupter smart switches, a variety of sensors, and smart meters at every location within the service area.
EPB President and CEO David Wade boasts that the utility company has “also installed a number of cutting-edge technologies that we’re testing through our partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratories and other national researchers.”
Last November, the city announced the launch of the first of its kind quantum network. The commercial network is available to private companies, as well as government and university researchers who need a network to run quantum equipment.
In a white paper from September 2021, the World Economic Forum outlines the necessity of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to “accelerate the energy transition” it says is necessary in the future. AI requires quantum computing to process large quantities of data – such as the data being collected through smart city initiatives – and to solve complex problems quickly.
Two years before Chattanooga agreed to become part of the Global Smart Cities Alliance they were already collecting data for their Smart Cities Community Collaborative, a research partnership between the Enterprise Center, CO.LAB, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Erlanger Health System and EPB focusing on transportation, health care and energy.
On Wednesday, Seoul Robotics announced plans to expand a partnership with the Chattanooga Department of Innovation Delivery and Performance, and the Center of Urban Informatics and Progress at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga which will result in the installation of 86 smart city intersections in Chattanooga during 2023 and 2024 – the largest project of its kind in the U.S. The $4.5 million undertaking will be funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation “to create a living laboratory that will provide researchers unparalleled mapping, tracking, and identification insights into the state of mobility in the city.”
Once installed, the city will have the ability to monitor over a 100 intersections, the entire downtown area.
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org.