Do you ever wonder what cities will be like in the next few decades?
With over two thirds of our population living in urban areas by 2050 the demands on cities’ services will increase significantly. Technological improvements to our infrastructure will change the way citizens interact; artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things will allow the city to become smart; perhaps even allowing cities to think like a human brain.
So, what changes can we expect?
- Cities will become greener and have more cycle and walking space along with less pollution
- Buildings will generate their own energy from renewable sources and their design will be continually optimised thanks to smart data
- The high street will offer richer, interactive shopping experiences with augmented reality changing rooms
But most importantly we’ll see seamless commuting for all – no delays and no queueing!
Right now, we stand on the cusp of the transport revolution – Über has quickly rooted itself in popular culture, Tesla has popularised greener alternatives and we can see the potential of the self driving car – but how will this develop in the future?
Right now, this tech is in it’s infancy, but fully matured in three decades’ time it will completely change the way we approach driving. In your future car, you can work or be entertained while it does the driving; and you will no longer need to park. Your vehicle will find its own optimised parking space after it has dropped you off at your exact destination.
But public transport - rather than personal transport - is where the most potential for innovation lies.
Artificial Intelligence and linked technology will allow the creation of networks of multi user driverless pods. These will take the place of our current buses and their fixed routes and timetables. Pods could be ordered, Über style, from your phone or home connected device and you can simply hop on with the vehicle picking up other passengers along the journey.
This intelligent transport system will be so efficient and easy to use it could replace the need of car ownership. Payment for these will be simple and connected, smart enough to scan you as you board and leave the vehicle, and calculating your fare and charging you instantly.
Less car ownership and the move to renewable energy will result in cleaner air and allow the creation of more open green spaces and making biking more accessible.
That’s about how we will get there, but what about where we are going?
Smart buildings and sustainable cities
Be it a workplace, a hospital, school or library – public buildings will become smart and aware, constantly improving based on information they gather from themselves and the other buildings around them.
Buildings will also gather their energy source themselves through developments like solar windows; and surplus energy traded between nearby buildings and vehicles so that those in need never run dry. Through the data they have access to, they’ll run at optimum efficiency – aware of each of its occupants, keeping them at the right temperature and making sure they stay healthy and safe.
Shopping will also evolve – with augmented reality, AI and connected data all playing their parts. Imagine walking into a clothes shop and being presented with an interactive changing room. The shop would instantly know your size and use AI to present you a selection of clothing it thinks you would like based on your previous purchases and upcoming social calendar. Customisation of your choice will become available – tweak a design in an interactive mirror, and if it’s not in stock it can be delivered to your house by drone later that day.
But even further than this, perhaps now instead of going to the building you need to – it can come to you. Want a coffee on the way to work? Order a pod with your favourite coffee vendor in it. Need a meeting with a teammate? Book a meeting pod to pick you both up at a convenient location rather than go into work. Need a dental check up? Your smart schedule will instantly book a touring dental pod to come to you.
More time for you
All of this will create more time for you, both socially and at work. AI and connected devices will play its part in the workplace too – automating things like waste collection pods to when demand in the city is high, and bringing care to people who need it.
Will this automation take over from people’s employment? The hope is that no, but instead will see a shift so that people can focus on where they are needed most and provide a higher quality, more personal service along with more insight towards where they are needed most.
Follow me on Twitter: @pittso
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