Until recently, most cities grew organically, without a strategy or plan. Nowadays, meticulous plans with smarter and more creative solutions characterize urban planning. Advanced technologies help turn traditional cities into the smart cities of tomorrow to become more attractive, convenient, and sustainable.
In 1950, 30 percent of the world’s population lived in cities. By 2050, this figure will climb to about 70 percent. The last century also saw the birth of the megacities, metropolitan areas with over 10 million residents, where one in eight people now live.
There are currently 33 megacities around the world, and the figures are soaring. China’s Pearl River Delta with 42 million residents, the largest urban area in the world, is already more crowded than countries like Canada, Australia, and Argentina. By 2030, there will be 43 megacities, which keep attracting new residents due to better prospects in employment, as well as access to health and education services.
There’s no doubt that the population density can pose challenges to address everyone’s needs for housing, education, work, safety, and a healthy environment. Therefore, a successful growth management is vital to developing the world’s urban centers into smart cities to improve all aspects of the residents’ lives.
Smart cities – more efficient and convenient
One of the fastest ways to improve the life quality in cities is to equip them with cutting-edge technology that can adapt to the population’s needs. Analyzing the available Big Data – vast volumes of data from areas such as the Internet, mobile networks, traffic, and the energy sector – can help urban planners make more accurate predictions and better decisions about those needs.
The Internet of Things (IoT), a network of physical objects, like machines, cars, and household appliances connected to the internet, can later use this information. IoT-powered devices are able to help individuals and organizations to save time, money, and effort.
Tapping into these technologies, refrigerators can order groceries, trash cans can notify the garbage service when they are full, and doctors can monitor their patients from a distance to minimize hospital visits. This allows city-dwellers to track and trace anything they want, such as their bicycles, cars, luggage, pets, or even their children.
Smart home – groundbreaking and comfortable
In cities, space is a limited resource, and it comes with a price. However, architectural technologies are already responding to this challenge: Since the world’s first skyscraper was erected in Chicago in the 19th century, vertical homes line horizons in thousands of cities. However, latest technologies now enable life even below ground with earthscrapers, tall buildings that would dig into the ground rather than rise like skyscrapers. There are plans to build one in Mexico City, and China already has its first (partly) underground hotel.
Moreover, if a city is by still waters, residents could live in houseboats. In Southeast Amsterdam stands a collection of houseboats spanning 10,000 square meters. The idea is also booming in London, where the number of houseboat owners rose by 60 percent to almost 4,000 boats.
Whether above or below ground, on water, or on land, it is crucial that the homes are safe, energy-efficient, and comfortable. Smart home systems make this possible: fire alarms and surveillance cameras alert the residents in case of danger via smartphones. They also allow the remote management of heating and lightning to save energy, or to grant access to your home via Smart Locks. The household devices even do the housework when the residents are out.
Smart traffic – better transport solutions
Millions already share vehicles, and the car-sharing trend is likely to become even more significant. Meanwhile, by 2025, electric and hybrid electric vehicles will account for an estimated 30 percent of all vehicle sales.
The search for parking, which now causes around one-third of traffic in European inner cities, will take less time. Smart parking systems can detect available spaces for drivers via sensors embedded in the road, and find the shortest route to them.
Many cities are investing in cleaner transport too, such as hybrid buses and bike-sharing initiatives. Transport technology, like intelligent traffic signals, give public transport right of way, which cuts travel times.
Smart travel – faster and easier
Whether traveling for business or leisure, city-dwellers seek the fastest, most convenient, and safest way. However, growing passenger numbers are making airports busier, less personal, and less secure.
Smart airports use face recognition software to make security checks more reliable and to reduce waiting times. The latest technology connects terminals and collects airport data. Information such as flight delays and waiting times at check-in notify the passengers immediately via smartphones.
If available, high-speed trains are green alternatives to flying. In near future, travelers may also take the solar-powered Hyperloop, currently under development. This magnetic levitation train propelled through a system of tunnels with negative air pressure can reach even higher speeds than a plane.
Smart office – customized workspaces
In smart cities, offices don’t have to be unstimulating places where the employees frequently look at the clock. Many have already evolved into innovative workspaces that intend to make employees feel healthier and happier. With these technologies, employees will enjoy the interior greenery, such as living green walls. The current trend is for open-plan workspaces, conference rooms for collaborative dialogue, and quiet areas where staff can retreat to work alone.
Switching desks every day no longer means workers have to adapt to an entirely new environment: The smart office knows their specific needs and adjusts the workspace accordingly – from the height of the desk to the temperature and lighting. All equipment and systems are connected; workers can control them centrally.
Meanwhile, 52 percent of employees around the world now work from home at least once a week. They perform around 30 percent of the work from home or during business trips, rather than in the office. It’s a win-win situation, as fewer commuting hours mean less pollution and traffic jams, while working from home is proven to boosts employee productivity.
Smart technologies – spotting future potential
The technological progress in past years shows that our cities are rapidly changing. This makes it even more critical for companies to identify and capitalize on trends early on. For example, through intelligent building management systems, face recognition software, or other innovative technology.
dormakaba’s access solutions can help businesses play a vital role in the development of our urban centers into smart cities – connected, convenient, and pleasant places to live.