Future cities will be super smart
Cities of the future will have greater population densities, more brainpower, and will serve people and businesses much better.
One false assumption often heard today is that human and artificial intelligence are opposing forces with divergent interests.
“There hasn’t been enough discussion about the possibilities of what could be achieved through cooperation,” says Juha Kostiainen, SVP in charge of urban development at YIT.
Kostiainen believes this cooperation will increase over time. What will drive this is both technology and an increased density of urban habitation.
In the industrial age, the trend of cities has been to segregate the industrial, commercial, and residential areas. However, some cities are already beginning to develop differently, driven by a demand that will cause the trend to reverse course, and condense inwardly in their geographical and social dimensions.
“New ideas and businesses are born in cities that fuel social networks. The driving force behind today’s modern economy are the social networks into which urban societies feed. Our cities are presently too small and sparsely populated,” says Kostiainen.
As city density increases, social interaction will intensify. This will require that cities offer greater opportunities for people to interact and develop even more ideas than can occur in the workplace.
“Rather than designing cities with automobiles in mind, we need to start focusing on people. As a result, new ideas will emerge and also new ways of designing buildings that will create diversity, Kostiainen says.
Digitalisation will improve services
Smart solutions support changes in the urban structure and the creation of new ideas, and their development is already underway. For example, in Finland alone, Tekes and VTT are working on a number of smart city programmes.
In Kostiainen's vision, the change is supported by driverless cars that are able to operate in cities and drive outside the city centre for maintenance at night.
“On the day when this vision dawns, imagine the enormous amount of parking space, that will be available to society.”
In the cities of the future, smart solutions will generate more and more information gathered from buildings, vehicles and various devices in order to produce innovations. Data can be processed and enriched in so many ways that continuous access to a wide variety of personalized services will emerge. From a business point of view, this development will offer a huge opportunity to develop new commercial products and services.
Increasingly, cities will offer a range of digital gateways through which people will become conscious of things that are going on around them in real time.
The homes of a densely built city will be smaller than they are today, but they will have more features, as will the environment outside the home. Smart homes will be capable of leveraging ubiquitous sensor data to automatically order cleaning services and doctor appointments that used to be arranged manually.
“At least some of the services available to homes will be cheaper than they are today, thanks to digitalization.”
The sheer volume of data that is starting to be available will place an increased demand on network intelligence. More tangibly, smart networks will need to give priority to critical and urgent data, such as the data needed by hospitals. Likewise, these networks will need to be scalable so that capacities can adapt to changing levels of needs. Planners of smart solutions should check with their operator to make sure that their network fulfils such requirements.
From a macro perspective, the significance of this trend toward smarter and more compact cities may loom so large that the historical concept of city states will one day find itself making a comeback.
“The resulting effect on consumer demand will be an important part of the foundation for the future global economy.”