GEC Catalyst Awards

GEC Catalyst Awards

The mission of the Green Electronics Council (GEC) is to achieve a world in which only sustainable electronics are designed, manufactured and purchased. The GEC Catalyst Awards seek to inspire innovation in the design, manufacture and use of technology to advance sustainability globally. GEC provides two Catalyst Awards. The first is “Catalyzing Impact at Scale,” which recognizes organizations that have achieved a large-scale sustainability impact due to their design, manufacture and/or use of IT. The second is “Catalyzing Disruptive Innovation,” which recognizes organizations that have designed cutting-edge technologies or used technology in such a way that, if adopted widely, could lead to exponential sustainability gains.

Each year the Catalyst Awards focus on a different theme. In 2019, the GEC explored how sensors can contribute to global sustainability targets with its theme of Leveraging Sensor Technology to Build Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Cities. Our connected world, particularly smart cities, increasingly rely on data gathered by sensors. Millions of these small electronics are being designed and deployed globally, leading to a projected 13.2% compound annual growth rate for the sensor market through 2023, with estimates of one trillion sensors being deployed across the globe by 2020. Sensors have the potential to contribute significant to future sustainable and resilient cities, but will the sheer volume of these electronics, the upstream impacts of production and their disposition, lead to unintended consequences?

GEC engaged leaders in the field to join its Judging Committee, review nominations, and recommend award winners that best fit the year’s theme and award categories.Members of the esteemed 2019 Judges Committee are below. GEC also partnered in 2019 with one of the premier Smart City conferences, Ecocity World Summit 2019, for its award ceremony in Vancouver, Canada, on October 10, 2019.

 

2019 Catalyst Awards Winners

 Winner Catalyzing Impact at Scale

Winner Disruptive Innovation

 

City of Antibes, France

The City of Antibes, a coastal resort town in France, has a population of 80,000 residents that balloons to more than 200,000 people during the summer. The City’s water supply is a critical component to its tourism economy, and with a distribution network of 315 kilometers and more than 40,000 sections, it wanted to increase the security and economic viability of the system. To increase Antibes’ resilience, it partnered with SIGFOX, SAP, and VEOLIA to digitize its water distribution system. With 2,000 sensors, and with a technology leveraging a majority of existing assets and the capability to mix them with new sensors on a low-power IoT network embedded with end-to-end security, the city was able to create a more economically viable, sustainable, and safe water distribution system. This solution helps Antibes to anticipate breakdowns, optimize maintenance schedules, and plan for future infrastructure investments.  As a result, the citizens of Antibes pay less than half the national price of water in France.

Fend Incorporated

Cyber-attacks within the energy and utilities industries cost an average of $13.2 million per year. Fend’s data diode brings much-needed cybersecurity to the sensors and IoT devices that have the potential to help make our cities smarter, efficient, and resilient.  The hardware gets real-time industrial equipment data where it needs to go with a class of cybersecurity technology once reserved for nuclear power plants and the military.  The data diodes send data in only one direction, so attackers cannot physically penetrate the network connection, send malware, penetrate corporate information networks, or use legacy equipment as a backdoor for ransomware. Fend’s solution requires no patches, uses less than 2 watts when in operation, is designed to last for years, and is constructed to be easily disassembled into its recyclable components at the end of its life.  Fend’s data diodes can be installed rapidly at cities across the world, providing a strong cybersecurity defense for smart cities anywhere.

2019 Catalyst Awards Honorees

Aclima

The World Health Organization estimates that 9 out of 10 people in the world breathes polluted air, leading to 7 million premature deaths per year. Today’s stationary air quality monitors are expensive, offer limited coverage, and provide low-resolution data. To address these limitations, Aclima developed a mobile sensor-based state-of-the-art machine learning and detection technology that provides hyper-local air quality mapping at a lower cost than traditional approaches and with an increase in spatial resolution.  This technology delivers air pollution and climate emissions intelligence at unprecedented block-by-block resolution and empowers governments, companies, researchers, and the public to reduce emissions and protect public health, at the local and global level. Aclima aims to deliver hyperlocal air quality data and insights to over 1 billion people around the world within the next five years.

CAPA Strategies, LLC

The frequency of extreme heat waves is growing, claiming more lives than all other natural disasters combined. In response, CAPA Strategies, a global climate consultancy, created the Urban Heat Watch program, which aims to engage community members in understanding how temperatures vary across regions. These heat campaigns use recycled and reusable 3D printed sensors mounted on cars or bicycles and an online toolkit, which provide community participants with access to state-of-the-art equipment and verified processes to create high resolution descriptions of heat in their select regions. The open-source electronic boards contain sensors that collect temperature and humidity readings every second, and participants conduct campaigns at three times throughout the day. The analysis, which also uses open source software, takes two weeks, and results in process for engaging communities in interpreting the reasons for the distribution of heat. Participants then engage with local planners, public health practitioners, and others to identify opportunities for expanding green infrastructure, cooling services, energy system investments, and other strategies for reducing effects from extreme heat. Since 2015, nine U.S. cities have already conducted campaigns, with another 15 in 2019, and expectations to work with more than 30 cities by 2020. With support from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, CAPA will be soliciting applications for their next heat campaign in January 2020.

City and County of Denver’s Department of Public Health & Environment

The City and County of Denver has partnered with Denver Public Schools to create LoveMyAir Denver, a citywide, sensor-based, monitoring network that provides real-time air quality data.  The team is installing low-cost, cutting-edge air pollution sensor technology, redeveloped with solar, battery storage, and data connectivity, along with information dashboards at 20 area schools.  The City’s vision is to use this hyper-local air quality data to develop evidence-based, culturally responsive programming that empowers communities in Denver to reduce and limit pollution exposure, leading to decreased asthma rates in Denver Public Schools.

Human Oriented Products Ubiquitous

Human Oriented Products Ubiquitous (HOPU) created Smart Spot, a sensor and data powered tool with dashboard and decision support functionality based on artificial intelligence algorithms, to support technicians and urban planners in considering sustainability, climate change, air quality and human-centric indicators in their decision-making processes.  Smart Spot utilizes HOPU’s own manufactured sensors and IoT devices to collect air pollution data at specific points in real time.  The data is scrubbed by HOPU’s machine learning algorithms to improve the precision of the sensor measurements and is then converted into human-relevant indicators that can be used as part of the socio-economic evaluation for a project or investment.  Smart Spot is already helping cities such as Cartagena, Madrid, Bruges, and Helsinki, to create climate change action plans.

City of Portland, Oregon

City of Portland’s Smart City PDX team designed a low-cost air quality sensor testing project in response to community requests for more information about local air quality.  Most air quality sensor projects are focused on assessing sensor limitations and data quality, and this Smart City PDX project used methods to address both technology and sustainability considerations.  Smart City PDX included procurement criteria focused on the ability to upgrade and modify a sensor device with the intent to minimize electronics waste. These criteria directly influenced Apis, Inc. to design a low-cost air quality sensor device with a modular sensor socket design. This design led to less electronics waste, as well as less hazardous solid and liquid waste. Smart City PDX and any other interested municipality can easily adapt these criteria for scaled-up projects and a variety of sensor devices beyond air quality.

Seametrics Inc.

The current industry standard for water level and water quality sensor manufacturers is to produce sealed units, which means when a sensor stops working, it must be disposed and replaced with a new unit. Seametrics manufactures water level and water quality sensors with an eco-friendly twist locking and compression fitting design.  This design allows the sensors to be disassembled into component parts for repair, or partially disassembled for battery replacement. The new repair modules provide an additional way, along with replaceable batteries, to extend the total product lifecycle of sensors.  This reuse-focused design provides Seametrics’ customers with sensors that are not only rugged, precision instruments, but also sustainable.  After two years of extensive marketing, Seametrics launched its repair module offering in 2019 and hopes to make reusable sensors the industry standard.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science

The Hampton Roads region in Virginia has the highest rate of sea level rise on the East Coast, putting its 1.7 million residents at risk to frequent flooding.  StormSense, a collaborative project between the Hampton Roads’ municipalities and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at William & Mary, has doubled the number of water level sensors in the region. This solution ingests, converts, and aggregates water level data from more than 65 sensors every 6 minutes.  The data are then used to automate high water alerts. The flood alerts are shared with the public in real-time and up to 36 hours in advance of future flooding events.  This capability helps communities to prepare and respond to the disastrous impacts of sea level rise and coastal flooding in ways that are replicable, scalable, and measurable.  In 2019, StormSense received funding to commercialize the sensors and modeling software so other cities can benefit from this sensor-based solution.

2019 Catalyst Awards Finalists

Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Dubai has set a unique goal to be the most technologically innovative, environmentally sustainable, and happiest city on Earth. To achieve this goal, United Arab Emirates’ telecom provider du Telecom entered into a 5-year partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to create the Smart Dubai Platform. Together, HPE and du Telecom are making sense of 2.5 billion GB of new data created every day by 1,000 e-services, 26 government departments, and 250,000 smart meters. Sensors with feedback mechanisms have been placed throughout the city, allowing city officials to gain insights into which systems are working well, which are not, and how the city can evolve to better serve its citizens. By leveraging this data, The Smart Dubai initiative increased public happiness levels to 90% in just 11 months. Dubai is sharing its story with a variety of international smart city stakeholder groups to inspire similar efforts across the globe.

International Telecommunication Union
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) worked with leading information and communications technology experts to develop recommendations that support cities in developing open and interoperable smart city platforms (SCP).  Recommendations ITU-T Y.4201 and ITU-T Y.4200 provide the blueprint of an open and interoperable SCP that can address a wide-range of city challenges, such as urban sensing, infrastructure management, climate change, and citizen-centered integrated services. These recommendations help cities to circulate data collected by different sensor networks and translate them into actionable insights that support city stakeholders in making better decisions.  Cities in China and Spain have already implemented the recommendations with success, and several other cities across the globe are in the process of implementing the standards.

Intelligent Environments Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin

Lighting automation with sensors can help reduce energy consumption, but many do not consider the comfort of occupants, which can impact their work productivity and health. LightLearn is an intelligent lighting control system that aims to balance occupant comfort and energy efficiency. Like conventional lighting automation, it utilizes occupancy, switch position, and daylight information, but it also allows occupants to override the automation. LightLearn actively interacts with occupants and learns personalized optimal control set-points that achieve both occupant satisfaction and energy saving. A recent study noted the potential for LightLearn to significantly save lighting hours of operation compared to schedule-based (82%) and occupancy-based (21%), while maintaining occupant comfort. LightLearn is a low-cost and easy-to-install device that can be replicated in other buildings.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ENERGY STAR Smart Home Energy Management Systems

Residential buildings account for 20% of U.S. energy use, making it an ideal sector for energy savings.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR Smart Home Energy Management Systems (SHEMS) program developed the first national effort to define and recognize smart home systems that manage and reduce energy use by offering a combined package of service algorithms, user interfaces, occupancy sensors, and controlled devices.  EPA has developed a specification to generate immediately available energy savings through the deployment of a voluntary national recognition standard.  EPA intends to use the data collected over a statistically significant period to develop a single performance metric that objectively compares the energy performance of different SHEMS services, which will enable the agency to define energy saving targets in future specifications without prescribing strategies or technologies.

2019 Catalyst Awards Judging Committee

Jean-François Barsoum

Senior Managing Consultant, Smarter Cities,
Water and Transportation, Innovation, Research & Development at IBM

Joey Dabell

Project Leader/Program Head, Smart Microgrid Applied Research team (SMART)
British Coumbia Institute of Technology

Jaime Ruiz Huescar

Co-Founder, Cities Forum

Melanie Nutter

Principal, Nutter Consulting

Carlo Ratti

Director, MIT Senseable City Lab
Founding Partner, Carlo Ratti Association

Jason Whittet 

Formerly Associate Director, 100 Resilient Cities

2019 Eligibility and Nomination Requirements

The 2019 GEC Catalyst Awards seek to inspire innovation in the design, manufacture, use, reuse and recycling of sensors to advance sustainability in cities and communities globally. Nominations were open to any organization in the public or private sectors and public-private partnerships, from any geography, committed to promoting sustainable electronics. Nominations were accepted for products, programs, and partnerships launched within the past five (5) years.

Opportunities for Recognition

The GEC Catalyst Awards provide an international platform to showcase sustainability achievements of and with electronics. Winning an Award provides public endorsement by independent and esteemed experts, and it grants inclusion in marketing efforts to promote the Winners’ accomplishments. GEC Catalyst Awards Finalists and Winners will be showcased via:

  • An awards ceremony at the Ecocity World Summit 2019, taking place the week of October 7-11, 2019, in Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Programmatic inclusion in Ecocity World Summit conference materials
  • A webinar featuring the GEC Catalyst Award winners as part of the GEC’s 5-part webinar series, Exploring the Hidden Impacts, Opportunities and Challenges of Smart Cities, with the webinar recording accessible on the GEC website
  • Promotion by GEC to multiple industry and procurement associations interested in sensors and smart city technology
  • Promotion on the GEC website and via a press release, GEC newsletters and social media
  • GEC co-marketing support for the winning entities
Nomination Application

Nominations must be submitted in PDF format and uploaded to this website using the “Submit Nomination” button below. All three sections of the Nomination Form (outlined below) must be completed to be eligible. Each question need not be answered in detail; responding to each will enable the Judging Committee to better evaluate the nomination. Quantitative data addressing the nomination’s sustainability and resiliency claims is not required but may strengthen the submission.

Call for Nomination

Section 1: Contact Information

Name of organization being recognized in the nomination (Will be made publicly available)

Contact information of person submitting nomination (Will NOT be made publicly available)

Section 2: Executive Summary

Nomination Name/Title (Will be made publicly available)

Brief description of nomination (Primarily for marketing; will be made publicly available). 500-word limit.

Executive Summary (Primarily for judging; will be made publicly available)

  • Should be limited to one (1) page
  • Summarize how your nomination advances sustainable and/or resilient smart cities through the design, purchase, use, reuse or recycling of sensors or sensor networks
  • Summarize the challenges faced by the innovation (economic, logistical, developmental, etc.) and how they have been (or will be) overcome
  • Summarize the short-term and long-term milestones and achievements

Section 3: Supporting Information

This section, which should not exceed 5 pages, allows nominees to explain why their initiative should be recognized. The information provided here will not be made public without the nominee’s consent.

Impact – Describe the demonstrated or projected sustainability and/or resiliency benefits of your nomination through the design, purchase, use, reuse or recycling of sensors or sensor networks for smart city applications. Impacts may be direct or indirect, immediate or long-term. Some aspects to consider:

  • How is the nomination superior to current solutions or best practices?
  • How broad is the impact (local, regional, national, international)? Is it transferrable to other cities, regions or countries?
  • Does your nomination have any potential sustainability trade-offs? 

Innovation – Describe why your nomination is innovative in its advancement of sustainable and/or resilient smart cities. (NOTE: GEC broadly considers “innovation” to be new technologies, processes, products or policies, or using existing electronics in a new way.)

  • How does your nomination compare to the current solution(s)?
  • How might your nomination inspire and/or be used by other organizations?

Commercial Viability – Describe how your nomination is viable in both the short- and long-term.

  • Can the nomination be scaled, or has it already been scaled, to widespread deployment?
  • Describe the short-term and long-term milestones for the innovation.
Selection Process and Judging Criteria

All nominations will go through an initial screening process by GEC for appropriateness, completeness, and the degree to which they address the requirements before being sent to an independent Judging Committee, comprised of experts in the field. Decisions of the Judging Committee will be based on the criteria below and calculated via scoring sheets. The Judging Committee will recommend two Winners based on the following weighted criteria:

  • Sustainability Impact (direct or indirect, demonstrated or projected) (50% of the final score)
  • Overall Innovation (25% of the final score)
  • Commercial Viability (25% of the final score)

 

The Committee’s decisions are final and may not be appealed.

Important Dates
  • April 10: Catalyst Awards nomination period begins
  • June 17: Catalyst Awards nomination period ends
  • June 24: Judging Committee begins reviewing nominations
  • August 2: GEC notifies the 2019 GEC Catalyst Awards Winners and Finalists of their status
  • October 7-11: Catalyst Awards ceremony held at the Ecocity World Summit 2019 in Vancouver
  • November 7: GEC hosts webinar featuring 2019 Catalyst Awards Winners

 

GEC is excited to partner in 2019 with one of the premier Smart City conferences, Ecocity World Summit 2019, and hold its award ceremony at the Summit in Vancouver, Canada, October 7 – 11, 2019. The Summit brings together a diverse mix of researchers, policy makers, city-building professionals, business innovators, and civil society leaders who share a commitment to creating socially just and ecologically sustainable cities. See the Summit’s website for additional information.

Legal Considerations

Information submitted in a nomination shall be the intellectual property of the applicant, should not infringe on others’ intellectual property, and shall not include confidential business information. Before submitting a nomination, confirm with the appropriate advisors or legal counsel that any intellectual property described in the plan is appropriately protected.

The awards ceremony may be open to the public. This session may be broadcast to interested persons through media that may include radio, television and the Internet. Any data or information discussed or divulged by Award entrants in public sessions should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or presented in these sessions.

The authors of the nomination submission will retain all copyrights to the submission regarding its use at all times prior to and following the Awards judging except as stated below. Due to the nature of the Awards, the Green Electronics Council will not ask judges, reviewers, staff or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements for any participant.

The organizer of the Green Electronics Council’s Catalyst Awards may make photocopies, photographs, videotapes and/or audiotapes of the presentations including material prepared for use in the Awards ceremony. By entering the competition, you agree to grant a release to the organizers, sponsors and funding sources of the competition to use such materials without restriction. Additionally, four items that are required for registration may be shared by the Green Electronics Council publicly: 1. Nomination name/title, 2. Brief description of nomination, 3. Executive Summary, 4. Name of the organization being recognized in the nomination. For your protection, do not enter confidential information in any of these fields. The long nomination submission will only be seen by the staff of the Green Electronics Council and members of the Judging Committee.

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