Toshiba is Developing Smart Solutions for Communities
The megatrends of increasing populations, ageing societies, growing information societies, resources and energy shortages, and global environmental issues, have prompted Toshiba Corporation to shift from being product-oriented towards developing problem-solving solutions. Toshiba is now committed to developing smart solutions for communities that strike a balance between environmental considerations and comfortable living.
Creating Smart Communities
With this new focus, Toshiba is looking at creating solutions for Smart Communities with a balance between environmental considerations and comfortable living. Smart Communities comprise the 3 pillars of Energy (Transportation, Smart Grid, Energy Management, Power Supply and Renewable Energy); Data Storage (Data Centers, Servers, Storage Arrays, Materials and Devices, and Appliances); and Healthcare (Healthcare and Medical Services).
Smart Communities solutions can be applied across the pillars and involve the key use of information and communications technology (ICT). The solutions that are implemented in the communities really depend on what each community need and want. There are now several Smart Communities being developed by Toshiba, with projects across the United States, Europe and Asia, including Japan, China, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Mr Fumio Otani, Corporate Representative for Asia of Toshiba and Managing Director of Toshiba Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, explained that the point is to not just focus on the business but also contribute to the society and country. For example, all the countries in Asia are on different phases and of different nature, so it is important to talk to the local people and find out what solutions they need and how to contribute. This is different from the previous approach of just offering products.
Mr Otani shared that if energy and fuel are sufficient and carbon emissions are not very much, we don’t have to think about energy consumption and Smart Communities. However, with the increased consumption and dependency on fossil fuel, the problems with nuclear energy, and the unproven carbon capture and storage technology, we have to think about energy efficiency for the future and our children. So it is important to look at Smart Communities.
Transportation Solutions for a Smart Community
If we consider the transportation solutions for a Smart Community, Toshiba is offering a comprehensive suite of solutions involving electric trains, buses and vehicles; renewable energy generation and use of regenerative energy; and intelligent energy management of stations and facilities.
One of the energy solutions for smart rail transportation is the Railway Energy Management Systems, which allows rail operators to plan, control and improve the train operations for energy efficiency, and also to manage the use of renewable energy, regenerative power, and energy storage onboard trains and at stations.
Another solution is the high efficiency Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (PMSM) for the drive systems of trains. The PMSM is able to reduce energy consumption by 30%, lower the noise level, and improve the operating efficiency of the trains.
Singapore’s rail operator, SMRT, would be installing the PMSM for the refurbishment of the existing drive systems of 66 trains for the North-South and East-West rail lines. The PMSM will be installed on the first 2 trains starting in early 2015, and would be the first deployment of the PMSM outside Japan.
Opportunities for Smart Communities
Mr Otani shared that more building owners in Asia are looking at the energy efficiency of their buildings, so building energy management system is getting more popular.
Governments can also play a role in the development of Smart Communities. For example, governments should think seriously about energy efficiency and set appropriate laws to shift conventional less energy efficient appliances towards more energy efficient ones.
We subscribe to Toshiba’s business approach of finding out what the community needs first and then providing the appropriate solutions, instead of just offering products. Not only would we like to have more Smart Communities in Asia, we would also like to see more smart businesses too.
Images credit: Toshiba