Wolf Kohn Represents Atigeo, Washington State at the Smart Cities Innovation Summit

News, Jun 14, 2016

Today, a renowned research professor at the University of Washington and Atigeo's chief scientist will be the only speaker from Washington state at the nation’s Smart Cities Innovation Summit. The Obama Administration and members of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) invited Atigeo Chief Scientist Wolf Kohn to the Austin, TX, conference to present his unique solution to current challenges with solar power micro-grids. Smart Cities, a three-day conference developed by the White House and the Department of Energy, brings together international leadership in city governments and global technology to discuss the challenges facing civic spaces and propose cutting-edge solutions.

One of the greatest problems in solar power is consistency and reliability. Present-day models for monitoring and distributing solar power on a micro-grid, the system which measures and releases energy for a building, cannot predict how much power is stored over the course of a day, a week, or a year. These models cannot efficiently share or distribute power where it’s needed. For example, if a grid’s eastern-facing roof panels receive more sun one day than its western-facing panels, offices on the sunny side will have a surplus of power while offices on the western side will have a shortage. On a grander scale, a city like Seattle—known for its rain and clouds—can see weeks without sun, meaning buildings burn through solar energy too quickly, forcing them to resort to city power to keep the air conditioning on.

Kohn and his team at Atigeo have designed an algorithm-based controller that can identify these day-to-day and year-to-year anomalies, find patterns in past behavior and in real time, and then accurately distribute power based on the unique needs of each building.

The need for such an intelligent system is urgent and wide-ranging. The U.S. Navy, for example, has committed to reducing its electric footprint by 25 percent in less than ten years, a project that will require more efficient use of solar power at a larger scale. On a smaller scale, the booming city of Houston, the nation’s number one market for housing starts last year, reveals what can happen when new construction outpaces new power. Without improvements to existing power systems like solar micro-grids, Kohn says Houston would need a new power plant every five years to accommodate its population growth. In countries like Germany and Denmark, which get more than half their energy from solar, a critical problem is synchronization, the process that distributes energy uniformly across a grid—the very process that Kohn’s controller optimizes.

Kohn’s algorithm for identifying anomalies can solve more than just environmental issues. For example, Kohn and his team are using the algorithm to analyze a collection of mammogram records across five states. Their goal? Improving breast cancer detection. Many healthcare and data analysts argue that “the cure for cancer is in the data,” says Kohn. At Atigeo, our colleagues believe the same—about cancer and energy scarcity, as well as challenges ranging from cybersecurity breaches across organizations to readmission of patients to hospitals. CEO Michael Sandoval is one such colleague. “Every person is a pattern and every intersection is unique,” says Sandoval. Leaders like these help take our team and our partners from data to wisdom.

Written by Sean Marshall