Though widely known for its consumer electronics products, Panasonic is using its tech expertise to focus on a new venture: creating smart, sustainable cities of the future. Building on the success of its Sustainable Smart Town in Fujisawa, Japan — a factory turned thriving community complete with EV charging stations, IoT-enabled homes and businesses, and a renewable energy system providing a five-day storage of off-grid power — the company is bringing its CityNow program stateside, starting with Denver.
Located in close proximity to Denver International Airport, the decade-long project will deliver similar solutions to a 400-acre transit oriented development project near Pena Station. The city’s mayor Michael Hancock has expressed his desire for the airport and Pena Station to be more than just a transit hub, but rather an ultra-modern connected community that supports citizens and businesses alike with smart, sustainable technologies and responsive infrastructure that taps into real-time analytics made possible by big data and IoT.
“At Panasonic, we’re not political, we just want to get things done,” said Wendt. “So when the governor of Colorado, the mayor and all the stakeholders here in Denver, said: ‘This area could be your ‘living lab’ and become the US version of your success in Japan,’ we said: ‘We’re listening.’ Because, we know, if you can’t get all those stakeholders in alignment, our ability to be effective deteriorates significantly.”
“The city of Denver and Panasonic share a common goal — that goal being to empower people through the real-time delivery of information and services. I saw firsthand the power of Panasonic CityNow efforts in Fujisawa, Japan,” Mayor Hancock said in a statement at the launch of the project. “It’s ultimately about making our residents’ lives better, simpler, more comfortable and more connected.”
“We’ve installed LED street lighting, as part of a Smart Streets initiative, including public safety cameras, environmental sensing, parking management, interactive kiosks and community-wide Wi-Fi,” Jarrett Wendt, EVP of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions, told PC Mag. “We’re testing Argonne’s Array sensors, alongside many other innovations, and last, but not least, we’re implementing the largest DOT connected vehicle contract in the US to the tune of $72 million.”
In the face of climate change, cities will need to embrace sustainable technologies and urban planning practices in order to both reduce impacts and safeguard themselves against short- and long-term crises. What’s more, appearing at the cutting edge of sustainability is also a way for cities to attract and maintain new talent, investment and resources. Cities such as Denver, where government agencies are all on the same page, are few and far between. Panasonic hopes that success in Denver will help prove its CityNow model and pique the interest of other cities across North America.