Itron, Avista and other partners sign MOU on Spokane smart-city laboratory, Urbanova

Written By: Stratton Report
September 28, 2016

On September 28, Itron and Avista announced that six organizations had signed an MOU to align their efforts around a shared vision and purpose for Urbanova, the newly-named smart city living lab in Spokane, Washington.

The partners include Avista, the City of Spokane, Itron, McKinstry, the University District Development Association and Washington State University. The group has been working to create a living laboratory to design cities of the future in the 770-acre University District, adjacent to Spokane’s downtown core.

Urbanova’s goal is to harness data to gain insights, empower people and solve urban challenges in new ways. Several smart city projects, including a smart and connected streetlight pilot, “Shared Energy Economy” model and smart city research grants are underway. The streetlight pilot aims to intelligently manage and control streetlights to increase energy efficiency.

Avista was recently awarded a grant from the Washington Department of Commerce and Washington’s Clean Energy Fund to demonstrate how a Shared Energy Economy can benefit Washington energy consumers. The Shared Energy Economy model will allow various energy assets — from solar panels and battery storage to traditional utility assets — to be shared and used for multiple purposes, including system efficiency and grid resilience. Avista will work with several partners to create a Shared Energy Economy pilot project in the University District. Avista’s partners in this endeavor include, UniEnergy Technologies, McKinstry, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy, Washington State University and technology partner Itron.

Researchers in the WSU Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture are leading a five-year, $1.5 million initiative to develop a framework to monitor, predict and control energy and air quality in an urban environment and to record resulting health impacts in Spokane’s University District.

Heather Rosentrater, Avista vice president of energy delivery noted:

“Urbanova has seen tremendous progress this year. As new technologies continue to change the energy landscape, Avista is proud to be one of the founding partners to come together to create a smart city technology proving ground that anyone can utilize and that everyone will benefit from — in the heart of Spokane. Each partner brings expertise and leadership in their respective fields. Aligning our efforts will support projects that can enhance the livability, workability, sustainability and quality of life in cities, starting with Spokane. It will also create a testing ground for companies and innovators who are working on smart city solutions to be replicated around the world.”

Sharelynn Moore, vice president of global marketing and public affairs at Itron remarked: “Itron knows from our experience working with smart city initiatives around the globe that the proving ground in Spokane is a valuable resource and essential for the effective development of smart city solutions that are scalable and replicable. Cities across the globe are working to use technology in new ways to help improve services and infrastructure for citizens and to help address urban challenges like energy and water usage, traffic, waste and citizen engagement. Urbanova is an innovator in this effort.”

City of Spokane Mayor David Condon observed: “The City of Spokane and its citizens will greatly benefit from Urbanova’s mission as it aims to improve the economy, environment and well-being of our community. In the future, cities will address issues like resource scarcity, traffic, safety and health through the use of technology. Local businesses and residents will want to be involved in this exciting work.”