Building a sustainable smart city

In the face of the greatest challenge of our time – climate change – cities of the future not only have to be smart but also sustainable, as Water & Wastewater Asia finds out more from Christopher Steele, head of digital products and services at Binnies, an RSK Group company; Danielle King, head of climate change strategy and decarbonisation at RSK Centre for Sustainability Excellence; and Koh Sock-Hoon, process specialist at Binnies Singapore.

The Deep Tunnel Sewerage System Phase 2 (DTSS2) is part of Singapore’s nationwide programme to enhance its water security and increase self-sufficiency. DTSS2 reclaims used water for NEWater production with higher energy recovery at 50% less land use for water infrastructure (Photo credit: PUB).

As more nations embrace the smart city concept, what are the challenges involved and how will they impact their water infrastructure and management?
Christopher Steele:
The concept of smart cities has been around for some time with a range of different approaches being undertaken to make them a reality. These range from holistic ‘ground up’ developments like project Neom in Saudi Arabia, to the adoption of more component-based approaches, such as smart water metering or intelligent drainage management control seen more widely in North American and European water utilities.

Either approach presents a similar set of technical, human and financial challenges, as when scaled and applied at the level of a smart city, creates many ‘firsts’ to address them. This is then compounded by the difficulties in being able to demonstrate tangible and quantifiable benefits because there aren’t exactly many true smart cities that we can reference. These challenges, however, are slowly being overcome as technology evolves, society becomes more accepting of living homogenously with artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, and funding vehicles are gearing themselves towards environmental and social benefits.

What are the reasons behind the decision to establish the RSK Centre for Sustainability Excellence in Singapore, and what opportunities do you see Singapore and the wider Asia-Pacific region have to offer?
Danielle King:
Asia-Pacific is crucial to our collective fight against climate change. It is a region which has a huge development trajectory, and with that comes an opportunity to realise the true meaning of sustainable economic development – a development which serves to mitigate and adapt to climate change in a manner aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The RSK Centre for Sustainability Excellence was established to support the region in delivering innovative solutions to the greatest challenges of our time. We hope to achieve this in partnership with governments, businesses and educational institutions across the region, with a specific focus on the inter-related sectors of sustainable agriculture, digital water, renewable energy and climate strategy and decarbonisation. Key opportunities include expediting the use of emerging technologies in the water sector and supporting the energy transition through the design and implementation of low-carbon solutions such as tidal and solar power.

The full article is available in the latest edition of Water & Wastewater Asia Jul/Aug 2022 issue. To continue reading, click here.