Big Data serving the circular economy

Posted on 27 June 2017.

Big Data provides Smart Cities with information on the flows (energy, waste, pollution) that cross them in real time to better manage and recover these flows. Welcome to the connected circular economy!

Big Data, this explosion of digital data generated by the internet and connected objects, can be an ally and an accelerator for the circular economy! Within the Smart City, a city that uses digital technologies, Big Data can help to better understand and thus better manage resources, waste, and pollution in real time.

Better manage resources

In recent years, smart grids, have emerged. These grids use Big Data to distribute electricity more efficiently and promote efficiency energy. Smart grids use connected sensors to take the needs of consumers at different points on the network into account in real time. This allows them to continuously balance supply and demand as well as optimize energy production and storage upstream.

In France, the GreenLys project successfully tested the smart grids principle with 1,000 customers and forty companies in Lyon and Grenoble for four years. The experiment was based on the use of Linky, a smart meter that will be deployed throughout the entire French electricity network by 2021.

Big Data performance also applies to water management. In partnership with Veolia and IBM, the city of Lille launched "Vig'ileo", a smart water service, in 2016. Sensors, installed along the 4,300 kilometers of water network, allow various incidents (peak consumption, leaks, pollution, etc.) to be detected and responded to in real time.

Optimizing waste

In a connected city, digital data is also exchanged and used to better recover waste. There are more and more mobile applications to help citizens make circular choices about how to manage their waste such as Urban Pulse, which is an application designed by Veolia that references, among other things, all recycling centers, voluntary waste drop-off receptacles, and second-hand and repair stores, and the Too Good to Go application, which allows retailers and restaurant owners to propose products and meals at reduced cost because they were going to be thrown away.

In a few years' time, waste containers will be equipped with sensors to send information on their weight, fill level, and composition (organic materials, metals, textiles, etc.) to collectors which will optimize sorting and thus repair, reuse or recycling.

Reducing pollution

One of the major problems facing cities today is traffic congestion and consequently the large amount of CO2 emitted. Big Data offers the possibility of reducing urban pollution by rethinking the use of transportation in favor of soft mobility.

Logistic chains are increasingly greener thanks to digital data. Companies will soon have all the information about their stocks and deliveries to be made at their fingertips: customer availabilities, routes, weather conditions, road traffic, etc. This data will allow them to adjust their flows in real time and organize their deliveries so that they are more efficient and pollute the city less.

Eco-mobility solutions are also developing to allow residents to travel while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions as far as possible, such as Blablacar, the famous car-pooling service, Drivy, which allows individuals to rent their vehicles to each other, and ZenPark, the application dedicated to shared car parks.

Find out more:

- When Big Data shapes tomorrow’s cities
- Urban Pulse, the mobile application that makes the city simpler and more circular