The internet of energy, neighbour-to-neighbour networks, and a more social vision of Smart Barcelona
Q. What global developments are you most excited about in the next few years?
There is something closely connected with the Solar HUB, and that is the collaborative economy, applied through the internet of energy. There are thinkers, like Jeremy Rifkin for example, who are predicting a union, a synergy between energy and technology. He's predicting this as well as the third industrial revolution and collaborative businesses.
What is interesting for me is to see how this internet of energy is going to enter the market. We first had the internet of people, now Rifkin is talking about the internet of things, IoT. So things will communicate with each other independently of people. But what is really exciting for me is the Internet of Energy and how it is going to be deployed. Because energy has strong companies, big players who manage energy in the world. A lot of social problems and conflicts we have in the world are caused by energy needs.
So let's imagine that each person can produce his own energy and interchange this energy in a free internet. The potential disruption is enormous. The government may, perhaps influenced by the big energy players, create blocks to individual energy production and sales. But according to thinkers like Rifkin, this blocking will not be possible because people are going to organise themselves, and will produce and share energy anyway. I'm excited to see how the Solar HUB can contribute to this disruptive change that’s coming.
Q. Coming closer to home, what changes do you think we will or can hope to see in Barcelona?
I see that Barcelona is trying to find a place, it's trying to integrate the urban landscape in the city. Barcelona is a very nice city, a lot of people want to live here, but we are also a crowded city and we are missing a connection with nature, and we are missing more green spaces. It seems the city is starting initiatives, such as the Superilla initiative that is promoted by Salvador Rueda, a convincing ecologist- where they are starting to think people really need to be empowered citizens- i.e. occupy public spaces more actively and create natural landscapes in the city. So that is one thing Barcelona is looking for.
Barcelona is also looking for a more social and equal way of living within a Smart City. A more social and equal society. And I think a collaborative economy that has a strong connection with urban space could have a significant role in creating this social structure. It makes me think of a concept that we have started to consider here in SIARQ, that is the neighbor-to-neighbour concept. And we'd like to apply this neighbor-to-neighbour concept to our Solar HUB.
What is this concept? Well the internet is global right? If I want something, I go to the internet and find whatever I want, sometimes from another continent. But sometimes, I don’t realise that what I want is actually available round the corner from where I am. I’m missing a neighbor-to-neighbor network.
And Barcelona is a city where we have very nice weather and so we live in the streets. If I could have something more related to public spaces, like the Solar HUB, which could transmit information about what is around and also what other companies and businesses are doing in my neighbourhood- I could participate more in, and develop a stronger tie to my neighbourhood. Perhaps I may be inspired to set up a business of my own, or use this platform to increase my own local sales.
I'll give you an example- I have a business based on perishables, like a fish stall. At 1p.m in the afternoon, I decide to put my unsold fish on discount- now imagine if I had access to this neighbor-to-neighbour application- I could advice residents that stock is going on sale. Imagine this could be related to a local network, a network where we don't need the internet necessarily, just the neighbor network. The Solar HUB could be an element, or the infrastructure to create this neighbour-to-neighbour network.
This is something we are interested in, which needs to be developed; thought out and co-created in workshops within the Solar HUB Open Collaboration Program.