Intelligent Solutions for Complex Assets: EV Charging Stations for Cities

5 minutes

EVs are a great step towards reducing dependence on fossil fuels. They’re typically designed to run more efficiently than regular vehicles and don't produce harmful emissions, which means cleaner air and less climate change. And electric cars, trucks, and even buses are quieter, which can help reduce noise in cities.

It’s no wonder they’re generating quite a buzz.

It would be wonderful if overnight you could simply switch over from every inefficient, fuel-burning, environmentally compromising asset — but that’s simply not realistic. While EVs hold great promise, it's important to note that the widespread adoption of these vehicles also depends on addressing challenges. We’re talking about charging infrastructure expansion, battery technology improvements, and affordability to make them accessible to a broader range of consumers, just to name a few.

In short, EVs are not the answer to a problem but one part of a solution in working towards a more sustainable reality. Below, we’re exploring how an intelligent solution for assets like electric vehicles — and the charging stations needed to support them — can make it possible to shift towards a brighter future for all of us.

3 challenges in installing EV charging stations into existing public infrastructure

Installing EV charging stations into existing public infrastructure is a unique scenario. It requires collaboration between governments, private sector partners, and community stakeholders.

For the sake of simplicity, in this article, we’ll use light poles as our existing infrastructure. In some cities, there is an initiative to allow electric cars to charge through existing lamp posts. This requires a kit to access the existing electricity line in the pole and make it available to EV drivers. With that in mind, there are a lot of people who must work together to support the growth of EVs and charging stations in public areas, solving three challenges to do so.

1. Who pays for the installation and maintenance?

One of the primary challenges in deploying an asset like EV charging stations within public infrastructure? There is a substantial cost involved.

Who pays for it?

Installing charging equipment, electrical upgrades, and ongoing maintenance can be expensive and is often a roadblock for cash-strapped municipalities and organizations. Finding the necessary funding can be a challenge that requires creative approaches like forming public-private partnerships or securing government grants to cover the upfront costs.

At the end of the day, the availability of funding greatly influences the pace at which charging stations can be converted, deployed, and maintained.

2. Can the infrastructure handle it?

Lights (that are probably on a timer or equipped with light-detecting sensors) are one thing, but if you’re thinking of repurposing these assets into EV stations, the existing electrical grid might not be able to take the increased demand from numerous high-power EV charging stations. Sure, it might be able to handle a charge here or there, but what if everyone were to try to charge their car at the same time?

Improving the grid infrastructure to accommodate an additional drain on power is crucial and will likely be a time-consuming and costly process. Additionally, identifying the best light poles to update into charging stations with sufficient electrical capacity, adequate parking space, and accessibility can be a logistical challenge, particularly in densely populated urban areas.

Though a tall task, overcoming infrastructure limitations is vital to ensure a seamless and reliable charging experience for EV users.

3. Will everyone agree and follow the correct order of operations?

The installation of EV charging infrastructure is a web of permitting, zoning, and regulatory requirements at various governmental levels (and is sometimes subject to resident input at every step). It’s a communications issue on top of a logistical one.

Because there isn’t quite a standard yet, regulations can vary widely from one jurisdiction to another, leading to delays and uncertainty in the deployment process. Additionally, an absence of standardized design and operational norms for charging stations can create compatibility issues and confusion for both station operators and consumers.

For all of us to be successful, consistent standards, streamlining of the regulatory landscape, and a game plan or system for communication throughout the entire process will go a long way to facilitate the widespread adoption of EV charging stations in public spaces — and it could be a whole lot easier with the right asset management solution.

What capabilities to look for in an asset management solution

So you want to take all your existing light poles (and electric infrastructure), or - insert here - any other existing government asset and strategically upgrade some or all to EV charging stations — it’s a big project, and you need the right technology for the job.

For starters, not just any asset management solution will do. You need one built by experts who understand the challenges you face, the politics that will inform the process, and the many other factors shaping this undertaking for years to come.

You also need a solution that will enable streamlined communication, especially with the many stakeholders involved in something like converting light poles to EV chargers and maintaining them afterward. You’ll benefit from a solution that can help with goal setting, benchmarking, or even the necessary capital planning for getting these extensive and expensive projects off the ground.

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll want a solution that is user-friendly! Whether it’s a project director in the office on a desktop, a decision maker checking in on a tablet, a technician out in the field, or a resident logging in through a portal, you need something that isn’t overly complicated to learn or use.

A Brightly approach to complex asset management

Whether you are in the public or private sector, when you manage assets that are accompanied by complicated requirements and the involvement of multiple parties, you understand just how valuable having the right data and the right channels available can be. For ambitious and multifaceted projects like converting light poles into EV charging stations, you need a tool that’s not only designed to manage complex assets but backed by the expertise required to navigate a world that’s constantly evolving.

At Brightly, we’ve spent the past two decades working alongside both public and private entities who leverage our full suite of powerful, cloud-based solutions to solve some of their most pressing asset management challenges. And now, as a Siemens company, we’re extra empowered to help organizations not only transform how their assets perform, but shift what they believe is possible — and it’s all paired with award-winning training, support, and consulting services.

The team at Brightly helps light the way to a bright future with smarter assets and sustainable communities. Ready to learn more? Schedule a call with an expert today!