Sunday 30 April 2017

Building Cities of the Future Now

Future city

Cities Upgraded for Future

New cities are being built around the world and the ones that have been lived in for years are being upgraded for the future. It is partially the cause of over-crowding as well as pollution and partly due to an ever-connected world that makes sense to peg entire cities up to the network.

A smarter city would mean that utilises data on traffic for easing congestion or one which focuses in linking services for provision of improved information for the citizens. For several it could be about making cities much greener as well as efficient.

Some of the technology companies like IBM and Cisco tend to see smart cities as large business opportunity though in conjunction with the schemes being advertised by technology companies seems to be more grass root project that targets to empower citizens enabling them a say in how the city would be viewed.

For several of them, Songdo in South Korea is the poster boy of the smart city and the $35bn project situated on reclaimed land towards the Yellow Sea has been generally considered to be a model for smart cities across the world when it had begun in 2005.

Information System – Universal City of U-city

Songdo’s information systems, also known as a universal city of U-city, seemed to be connected to each other. Moreover it had led critics to label it as a `city in a box’, a showcase for technology though not essentially the perfect city for people. Sensors seem to be on everything in Songdo, for instance, escalators tend to move only when someone is on them.

A telepresence system built in like a dishwasher is present in every home. Besides permitting users to control the heating system and locks, it also provides video conferencing and is designed to deliver education, government services together with health care. Offices as well as schools also tend to be linked to the network. The digital organizer behind Songdo is said to be Cisco supplying the network-based technologies that are needed.

Masdar, United Arab Emirates

Masdar which is meant as `source’ in Arabic is said to be a city which tends to stand in the centre of the desert of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and is created to be one of the most ecological on the earth. Having solar power station at its core and wind farms giving energy for the same it tends to be carbon free. Besides this, it is also a hub for clean-tech companies.

From water right up to garbage, everything in the city is said to be measured and monitored, thus being a source of information. The city is said to be constructed on raised platform enabling easy access for the `digital plumbers’ to the system of progressive technologies which seem to run it. It is also pedestrian friendly and totally car free.

The city is said to be carrying out trial with a network of electric driverless podcars. The personal rapid transit – PRT would be running 6m beneath the street level through the city. The architects’ firm of Norman Foster who had designed various striking buildings inclusive of The City Hall in London have designed the buildings in the city.

It is expected that around 40,000 people would ultimately reside in the city with around 50,000 shuttling there daily.

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 

City mayor Eduardo Paes had commissioned IBM in creating a city-wide operation centre connecting all the 30 agencies of the city from transport to emergency facilities. This shows that the officials from all over the city could join forces in handling the movement of traffic together with the public conveyance system as well as ensure the power and the water supplies function proficiently.

Synchronized response can be taken in case of a crisis, like collapsing building. Shutting down of transport system, emergency services can be organised together with gas supplies to be cut off while citizen can be updated of substitute routes through Twitter.

The research team of IBM have developed a sophisticated weather forecasting system wherein it takes data from the river basin, land surveys, the historical rainfall logs of the municipality and radar feeds to forecast rain together with the probable flash floods.

It has also begun appraising the effect of weather occurrence on other city conditions like city traffic or power outages. Several citizen-centric apps have been laid by the centre with updates on weather and traffic.

Barcelona, Spain

Last year, Manel Sanroma, chief information officer of Barcelona city council had made a daring statement that the cities of the future could be more powerful than nation states. He had stressed at smart city conference around the world the need of having a strong mayor who would be willing to take control in drawing up blueprint for this type of a city.

Barcelona is considered to be leading and tends to have some remarkable projects which are being rolled out. It has developed well-organized bus routes, modernized rubbish collection utilising sensors as well as introduced smart street lights. The development of a city operating system bringing all systems together in one location is also organized.

 Mr Sanroma had informed BBC that contrasting to Rio no central control room will be there. Presently the biggest projects under development would be to present contactless payments all over the transportation services of the city.

 Besides this, Mr Sanroma also intends collaborating with the other cities. With this it has set up the City Protocol Society with the intention of joining up cities all over the world with businesses, universities together with the other organisations in developing standards for technology platform which would operate in any city.

London, England

Several areas of London dating back to Roman eras seems to be an apparent choice as a future city though there seems to be numerous projects that are presently being developed. On a £24m prize awarded by the Technology Strategy Board in creating a future city it had lost out to Glasgow, though it remained a testing ground for smart technologies.

London has been chosen as an incubator by IBM for testing the algorithms which could power the cities of the future and has been partnering with Imperial College and University College London on various projects, inclusive of a network of sensors in monitoring air quality, water supply and the traffic flow.

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