A New York-based startup has come up with a way to power the cities of tomorrow. Totem Power has designed a mushroom-like construction, which stands at either 18 feet (5.5 meters) or 30 feet (9 meters) tall, that combines solar energy generation and energy storage, Wi-Fi and 4G communications, and EV charging. Metro talks to Totem Power CEO Brian Lakamp about his invention that is due for release in 2017.

Why did you decide to setup Totem?

– After I started digging into the opportunity, I became fascinated by two observations: First, city infrastructure is generally designed to be hidden. Second, infrastructure is generally designed for a point function, rather than as part of an integrated system. It seemed obvious to me that there’s an opportunity to redefine the product into something more compelling, and an opportunity to design it beautifully for the “living spaces” of communities to provide important services and inspiration. So, with Totem we’d like to provide foundational infrastructure for the cities of tomorrow. Modern infrastructure should be powered by renewable energy in a reliable and resilient way. It should also be connected and extensible, providing a platform for new, powerful services that emerge over time.

How does it work?

– Each unit has five elements: a solar array on the canopy of each unit, battery storage, WiFi communications nodes and 4G connectivity, an EV charging module, and lighting in the canopy. The energy and communications aspects work together to provide a renewable, resilient and reliable foundation for other services deployed through Totem Power.

 

What functions does it have?            

– Totem's smart city units are the first to combine solar energy, energy storage, energy management, advanced communications (WiFi, 4G), EV charging and smart lighting into a powerful platform for companies and communities.

 

Why is Totem such a breakthrough?

– In addition to providing a host of smart services for charging, mobility, and connectivity, Totem’s distributed nodes are capable of islanding to provide critical energy and communications services in the face of large-scale disruptions to both the electric grid and communication networks. Furthermore, Totem is the first renewable energy and smart utility company that is using the power of design to inspire and engage consumers, as well as building energy literacy and telling an easily understood story about clean energy and smart city services. Lastly, Totem’s core platform is designed to be extensible for future services.