Building Connected Communities

There’s strength in numbers, so the saying goes and whilst technologists have focussed on the individual smart home of the future, there are greater gains to be had if we consider how a ‘smart community’ may operate for the greater good. Everyone’s home could connect to a network the way we currently do to the National Grid and be funded via your mortgage when you buy your house. The benefits of living in a smart community would be almost ubiquitous and once in place would grow.

Let’s consider the UK’s almost annual hosepipe ban. One home owner can save around 25 gallons of water per day –running taps, washing machine cycles, baths versus showers – but if we consider what say 500 homes in a smart community could save if it had a ‘smart irrigation system’ – that’s instantly 12,500 gallons a day. And if we scaled that up to every new home built, well all of a sudden hosepipe bans potentially become a thing of the past.

We’ve heard a lot about the ‘Internet of Thing’ – all those different devices that can be connected via the net. It opens up the opportunities of scale too – so that those with a household of two adults and four kids have different ‘targets’ to meet than the elderly lady down the road. And those south facing homes that are warmer may be able to redistribute their ‘surplus’ energy to those in more need. The possibilities are endless.

Homeowners and community associations could potentially run challenges and reward its residents for meeting community targets. And at a much higher level, the government may also provide tax breaks to those that are able to demonstrate they’re living more sustainably – in much the way they do in the green debate – less tax on diesel or electric cars than on petrol, for example. In the end, they have a vested interest in us living more sustainably and being more socially minded; saving water or redistributing our surplus to our neighbours. It takes some of the reliance off them to provide things and puts it back into the community.