How will smart technologies help us to live and travel in the city of the future?
The future is urban
There is a clear relationship between urbanisation, economic growth and per capita income. According to the World Bank nearly all countries that reach middle income status are at least 50 percent urbanized. All high-income countries are 70–80 percent urbanized. Worldwide, cities are taking a greater share of the world’s population—by 2050 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities. But will cities themselves be able to cope without reducing the quality of life for their inhabitants? Growth in urbanisation is likely to put a greater strain on transport, health, education, energy, and social services. But if we see cities as systems—for moving people between home, work and centres of cultural and social life, for the provision of services such as energy, transport, education, public administration, and even social services—then we can begin to imagine how smart technology could play an important role.
Cities will need more energy and so planners, developers and homeowners will look to technologies that tell energy suppliers when nobody is home or in the office, allowing heating and lighting to be switched off. Police forces may wish to use predictive analytics to anticipate spikes in crime. Social services may even use Artificial Intelligence to anticipate the need for intervention to protect vulnerable children and adults.
Transport systems—for passengers and for freight—will be transformed. Self-driving cars, lorries and drones will enable the delivery of people and goods to be more efficient, more equitable and less environmentally harmful. A system of infrastructure management will minimise down time by using sensors connected to the Internet of Things. These will provide structural information about bridges and overpasses that will allow preventative maintenance, ensuring that disruptions from more serious deterioration is minimised. Trains and buses will be made available in response to real-time information about demand. It will be the same with the driverless vehicles, which citizens will be able to summon, like a taxi, to take them across town. Owning a car will no longer be a necessity.
The roundtable will begin with two 15-minute talks. The first by Sarah Hunter, Director of Public Policy at X (formerly Google[x]), and the second by Jan Hellåker, Program Director of Drive Sweden, a national strategic innovation program launched by the Swedish government. Following this, all participants will take part in a moderated discussion.
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