The City Performance Tool
- Launched in 2015, the CyPT is a handy guide for cities looking to invest in their infrastructure as part of their broader vision.
- More than 200 US cities currently are deploying the tool including Boston, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Portland, Riverside, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
- New York’s Regional Plan Association leaned on CyPT for its most recent plan document released in November 2017.
Electric Cars. Smart Street lights. Connected Data.
The advent of these technologies and their growing popularity mean cities need to figure out how best to adopt them and what that would entail – in terms of cost and benefits. But that’s not all. Cities also need to figure out how to accommodate their growing population.
Our nation will have 70 million more people by 2045 and our megacities such as New York and Los Angeles will hold three-fourths of the population. To prepare for the population surge, US cities will need to invest $510 Billion in infrastructure by 2030 – a tall order.
Clearly, cities are at a point of inflection.
They need to quickly decide how best to develop their infrastructure over the next few years to accommodate myriad factors, agree on their priorities, explore the road map that would best serve their goals, and execute efficiently on their vision.
Here’s a tool that could help cities make those decisions.
Siemens’ City Performance Tool (CyPT) has helped dozens of US cities, from Los Angeles to New York, explore pathways to achieve their specific goals within a time frame, based on their unique attributes and existing infrastructure.
“Cities are all so different,” says Martin Powell, who heads Siemens’ Urban Development practice at the Center of Competence for Cities. “We built this tool to give high-quality technical advice to cities, give them another view to help them make better decision as they strive to meet tough economic, social and environmental targets.”
Powell also is Siemen’s Cities lead for the Americas, which involves working with Mayors in over 100 cities providing technology advice and support to the cities.
Launched in 2015, the CyPT is fast becoming a handy guide for cities looking to invest in infrastructure as part of their broader vision. More than 200 US cities currently are deploying the tool including Boston, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Portland, Riverside, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
New York’s Regional Plan Association leaned on CyPT for its most recent plan document released in November 2017.
“The tool was able to produce the most quantitative results in some of our transportation and energy proposals,” says Chris Jones, SVP and Chief Planner of the Regional Plan Association who spearheaded the plan. “The proposals were around promoting electric vehicles, improving rail transit in the region, optimizing our energy mix, etc.”
“The tool produced specific metrics around carbon reduction, and, to a lesser degree, around job creation and economic growth,” says RPA’s Chris Jones.
How CyPT works
“The tool is quite complicated in the way we structured it, but very easy to use from a city’s perspective,” Powell says.
For example, if a city decides to employ the tool, the first step involves collecting around 200 or so data points which most cities normally have in their databases. Those include information about the condition of a city’s buildings; its mix of energy resources such as solar, wind, or energy storage; the city’s transportation mode including modal share, number of fleet, etc.
If the data is not handily available, Powell reiterates that a simple workshop can help fix the issue.
Once the data points are in place, the city can choose any one or a combination from a set of 80 technology options such as energy mix, vehicle electrification, congestion pricing, or energy efficiency measures it wants to adopt within a certain time frame.
Say, for instance, the city chooses the electric vehicle technology option. The tool has six different ways it can model that option, from heavy electric vehicles to electric cars, and at different penetration levels – say 10% or 50% or 100% vehicle electrification.
“If the city chooses electric vehicles at 100%, then the tool would show the city what a vision of full vehicle electrification would look like,” Powell says. “We are driven by the city’s choices.”
For all the options, the tool crunches data to produce output in 3 metrics: Carbon Reduction, showing how technology combinations impact CO2; Air Quality Improvement, focusing on NOX, particulate matter, heavy metal emissions, etc.; and Job Creation showing economic growth based on different choices, say, some cities may want to create more engineering or software jobs while others may want to lower unemployment.
Cities can pull different levers to reach desirable outcomes: some may, say, focus on making buildings more efficient or transport fleet cleaner. So far, Siemens has created 40 reports, and each report looks different – reflecting each city’s unique focus. For example, reports show:
- Los Angeles could have an increase in electricity consumption of more than 1,500% from electric transportation investments to meet its pLAn sustainability goals
- New York could see the creation of more than 500,000 new jobs with the implementation of the Regional Plan Association’s Fourth Regional Plan.
- Minneapolis will need 125 miles of bike lanes and 70,000 electric charging stations by 2050 to meet the city’s climate goals.
“Take Los Angeles for example, the tool showed the city could deliver a 80% carbon reduction by 2050 by running 100% on renewable energy,” Powell adds, “and that’s great because the city has a pathway to achieve that.
“It’s a car city with amazing road infrastructure, so as long as it cleans up the vehicles it will be in great shape. And that might mean moving people away from cars to bikes and electric vehicles.”
New York and CyPT
The Regional Plan Association has been around since the 1920s, having created the nation’s first metropolitan plan – called the First Regional Plan – in 1929 that served as the blueprint for infrastructure built in and around New York City in the 20th Century.
Since then, the RPA has produced three such plans – once in every 20 years or so – the most recent being the Fourth Regional Plan last November.
A non-profit, non-governmental organization, the RPA covers the larger metropolitan area including parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. New York City makes up about 38% of the planning area. Its independent board comprises former government officials, business heads and thought leaders who, along with partners, help deepen the influence of its ideas and recommendations on policy makers. Siemens is a board member.
Sustainability was a big focus in RPA’s newest plan; the others were regionwide prosperity in job creation and income growth, equitable income distribution and reduction of racial disparity, and improvement in overall health.
“We have about 1 million in New York floodplains, and that’ll grow to 2 million by 2050,” Jones said. “Our goal is to reduce those vulnerabilities.”
To achieve those goals, the RPA deployed CyPT to sift through 60 policy recommendations – from transportation to housing to energy policy and governance.
“One of the most difficult things to do is to calculate the impact of those recommendations,” says RPA’s Jones. “And CyPT is designed to do that. So, we said, why not take all the 60 recommendations and their subsets, use the tool for analysis and generate the performance metrics.
“We worked with the team for the last several months before producing the plan,” Jones adds. “They helped with evaluation of best practices around issues and provided a context for what other cities had done on these issues that might go beyond the policy recommendations.
“That helped us come up with a plan for our leadership.”