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From red lights to smart lights: Keep tabs on the Amsterdam 'smart city' project

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IBM and Cisco are the latest technology companies to be pulled into the Amsterdam Smart City project, a pilot that will likely provide some of the fir...

IBM and Cisco are the latest technology companies to be pulled into the Amsterdam Smart City project, a pilot that will likely provide some of the first real-world feedback about what the so-called smart grid and other smart technologies can really deliver.

The two companies are teaming on a pilot with Dutch utility Nuon and the city of Amsterdam to deploy smart meters and home energy management systems in 500 selected households. The goal is to help these consumers reduce their carbon emissions footprint by 14 percent and save some money along the way, although no one is saying how much yet. IBM and Cisco will track the following: how outages can be reduced by applying "intelligence" to the grid, how demand can be managed more closely, and how energy efficiency can be improved.

The latest pilot may be small, but the Amsterdam project is anything but. The various initiatives are outlined on this official Web site and include mobility and sustainability projects.

Given Amsterdam's scale, this is definitely a pilot to watch as the concept of "smart city" defines itself. This is a long-term project, so I'm sure best practices will take years to emerge, but if you're in civic government, bookmark the Smart Amsterdam site. It's also worth watching developments in Rotterdam, Venice, Singapore and Stockholm; details of these other IBM smart city projects can be found at this link.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure