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Paving the way to smart cities of the future – Pavegen

Paving the way to smart cities of the future – Pavegen

January 17 2014

By Holly Winman
  • Environment & Sustainability

Thanks to Laurence Kemball-Cook, CEO and founder of Pavegen Systems for writing this blog post.

The world’s energy crisis has necessitated a radical shift among policy makers and industry participants, and this renovation is spearheaded by the renewable energy sector. Competing renewable sources (wind, solar, hydropower, etc) are all established names however these sources are ineffective in busy, built up, urban environments sheltered from sun and wind by pollution or high-rise buildings. It is estimated 60% of the global population will be living in urban areas by 2030, however, there is currently no suitable form of renewable energy generation for these vastly populated environments. I launched social tech venture, Pavegen Sytems to try and change that.

Whilst studying as an Industrial Design Engineer at Loughborough University, UK, I recognised that footfall was a wasted energy resource and presented a significant opportunity as an alternative energy source to power urban life. After receiving a grant for winning the Royal Society of Arts International Design Directions Competition I developed the initial prototype. It is through applying for grants and awards like the Nominet Trust 100 that I was able to commercialise my innovation and Pavegen Systems was launched as a limited company in 2009.

Pavegen has pioneered a flooring tile that converts the kinetic energy from footsteps into renewable electricity. In environments with high footfall, this is enough to power local applications such as street lighting, advertising displays and communications networks. Being included in the Social Tech Guide has helped put Pavegen in the spotlight as a driver towards a greener planet and is great recognition for our hard work.

In my experience, society as a whole has been developing a deeper understanding of the positive aspects of clean energy. In turn large companies have a growing desire to consider their triple bottom line, incorporating social and environmental issues as well as profit. Companies such as Schneider Electric are introducing radical approaches to their sustainability strategies, with groups such as WWF providing a prime example of society’s green conscience at work, holding events like Earth Hour and the Green Ambassador scheme.

The media attention surrounding these organisations has played a crucial role in educating the public about the benefits of clean energy. This interest has subsequently led to clean energy products, such as Pavegen, being recognised for their contribution to society. It is only through increased positive media exposure that a social tech venture business can grow and so validation of the idea from independent groups such as the NT100 goes hand in hand with commercial traction.

I believe the future of the energy industry has to shift towards alternative clean technology, not only to provide a supplementary energy source, but also to sustain the smart cities of our future. The social aspect of Pavegen is facilitated through our API platform that has the ability to collect, monitor and communicate live footfall and energy-generation data. This means that organisations have access to detailed information about customer behaviour and movements around an area to help formulate an evolving strategy, as well as send out live updates via online channels as an aid for crowd control.

My vision is for Pavegen technology to become part of the fabric of urban infrastructure, directly engaging people with an alternative energy source and inspiring them to take responsibility for their own role in energy generation. In order to achieve this, we are eager to develop new partnerships to continue to deliver projects all over the world and are currently seeking investment as we enter an exciting phase of global business expansion. By developing a commercially viable product, we can demonstrate that a smart, low-carbon future is within our grasp, and prove that the disruptive technologies we need to make this a reality are already available today.

Everyone needs to play their part in helping save the planet and I believe that the solution to the world’s energy crisis is literally under our feet.

Follow Pavegen Systems on Twitter: @Pavegen

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