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Scottish Cities Alliance Release Smart City Projects

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Scottish Cities Alliance Release Smart City Projects

Today marks an announcement from the Scottish Cities Alliance of Smart City projects that will be taken forward across the seven cities wth the aim of transforming them into world-leading digital hubs.

Last year, the Alliance launched its Smart Cities Scotland identity with the announcement that it had been allocated up to £10million in European Regional Development Funding (ERDF), which is to be matched with £14million from the cities.

This ground-breaking Smart Cities Scotland programme aims to make services across Scotland’s cities become more efficient and greener while making the cities themselves more attractive to potential investors.

The Scottish Cities Alliance, which is the collaboration of Scotland’s seven cities and the Scottish Government, aims to use Smart City technology to transform cities into digital hubs to enable them to become more internationally competitive and boost economic growth.

This programme aims to transform everything from street lighting to healthcare and from public safety to controlling energy use to make life smarter using open data.

The “Smart” ambitions of Scotland’s cities are connected to projects the cities believe will help them become some of the most desirable places to live and work and most sustainable locations in the world. Projects that have been given the green light include:

  • Smart Infrastructure – Intelligent Street lighting: Aberdeen, Perth, Stirling and Glasgow are piloting Intelligent Street Lighting which will deliver a range of benefits, including more controllable and efficient lighting, delivering energy savings and enhanced public and road safety. This will reduce CO2 emissions by using LED bulbs and sensors to control the lights.
  • Smart Services – Waste : Perth, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling will work collaboratively in order to deliver improved waste management services, including deployment of smart bin technology and innovative smart technology deployed in the waste management process to enhance waste and recycling collections through improved monitoring and sharing of data and information. Sensors in bins will alert waste management services to empty the bin only when full, improving efficiency.
  • Smart Infrastructure – Innovation Labs: An innovation hub in Perth will develop new businesses in the digital and creative sectors linking to research and education. The Hub aims to foster new businesses and encourage entrepreneurs; but within the facility the Innovation Lab will take this further in terms of developing smart city technologies and solutions.
  • Open Data operations: Cities will create data publication platforms with the introduction of data analytics which will allow cities to make evidence based decisions in order to improve services and delivery. This means more informed decisions will be made leading to efficiency

The £10 million ERDF is part of the Smart Growth element of the 2014-20 ERDF programme and will support the ‘Scotland’s 8th City – the Smart City Strategic Intervention’. The ambition is to make a step change in the use of smart technology for integrated city management across the seven cities, not just individually but collectively, so creating the 8th city. The data gathered will be made widely available for others to use: it can be used in the development of new products and services and will create more responsive and appropriate services. To date 10 operations have been approved with £6.7m grant committed with further operations currently being considered.

Glasgow leads on the Smart Cities programme for the Alliance and Scotland’s Smart Cities will use the learning and experience and build on the work of Glasgow’s award-winning Future City Glasgow programme, which created a world-leading Operations Centre catapulting the city to the forefront of Smart Cities technology.

Our success in pioneering smart city technologies is something we will continue to build on to deliver transformed services for residents, businesses and visitors

Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Future City Glasgow, said: “Glasgow, as lead city for this programme in Scotland, worked with our partners across the country both to submit this bid and show how the use of data can benefit us all socially and economically. Our success in pioneering smart city technologies is something we will continue to build on to deliver transformed services for residents, businesses and visitors.”

Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Keith Brown announced the European Regional Development Funding at the inaugural Smart Cities Scotland launch last year.

He said: “Through the Scottish Cities Alliance we are working to boost Scotland’s cities and make them smarter.

“That’s why I’m pleased to see this programme move into its delivery phase with the wide range of projects announced today set to make our cities more efficient and greener, as well as more attractive to potential investors.

“This £24 million investment will use Smart City technology to transform our cities into world-leading digital hubs which will improve services and empower residents. I look forward to seeing how it can make our cities more internationally competitive and boost economic growth.”

Chair of the Scottish Cities Alliance, Councillor Andrew Burns, said: “We are delighted to announce the projects that will transform Scotland’s cities into Smart Cities, giving them the edge to attract more investment.

“By working together Scotland’s cities are utilising economies of scale to learn individually and share that knowledge collectively, to be at the cutting edge of Smart City technology and the benefits that brings. Our inter-city approach to developing Smart City solutions has been praised publicly by the European Commission and we have attracted the attention of other nations who are looking to emulate our collaborative model.

“By working together the Alliance partners share knowledge and are creating projects of scale that will deliver an economically stronger future for Scotland.”

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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