Our planet is in trouble. And most people agree with that now. There is a growing consensus that population concentration in densely populated, sustainable urban areas is a potential solution to the problem.
We will find out soon enough that as early as 2050, two-thirds of humanity will live in cities – many of them in so-called mega-cities with 10 million inhabitants and more.
Of course, it’s not just about how these cities can be made sustainable, but worth living. This will not be easy if all of us live together in a room that only makes up about two percent of the Earth’s surface.
Solve the challenges of modern cities
Fortunately, Havas Media Group’s latest prosumers study “New Cities, New Lives” shows that existing and future technologies are capable of solving the major challenges of today’s modern cities – such as traffic jams, inadequate parking, and public transport and other commonplace types Annoyances.
Apps such as Pango or Pavemint, which make it easier to find parking spaces, have emerged in recent years.
We have also seen private companies take over projects that used to be communal tasks. PaveGen is developing paving slabs for pedestrian walkways in the UK to convert energy from people’s footprints into small amounts of electrical energy, for example to power street lights.
In Germany ubitricity transforms street lamps into charging stations for electric cars.
And the CityBridge consortium of New York transforms the entire metropolis into a nationwide Wi-Fi zone.
Also interesting: E-Scooter: smart against the traffic jam
Toronto with “the first Internet-built neighborhood”
In addition to these concentrated improvements, we are already seeing the first stage of real Smart Cities. All eyes are on Canada, where Sidewalk Labs (an offshoot of Google’s parent company Alphabet) announced the revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront on Lake Ontario, which the planners themselves refer to as “the first Internet-built neighborhood”. A lot was promised, including modular design, self-propelled shuttles, digital kiosks and LED-certified homes and buildings.
For many of us, the notion of a fully realized Internet of Things (IoT) – including truly digitally connected cities – is the stuff dreams are made of. Which Marvel fan has not thought about how convenient it would be to have Tony Stark’s personal assistant, J.A.R.V.I.S, who runs all the fuss in the background while you can work in peace.
Your favorite latte from your favorite coffee shop? Already ordered and paid. The train you need to get? Go slow, he’s eight minutes late. Really being fully connected through the IoT would make it easier for us to work anywhere, do multiple things at the same time, stay connected with the important people in our lives, and take on all responsibilities.
A smart home, a smart neighborhood, a smart city
But smart cities only really work if our home can keep up. Many are just getting bogged down with the latest (and not so new) home gadgets. They rely on Amazon Echo or Google Home for a growing list of features (“Alexa, tell Furbo to serve Baron von Lanzelot”) on CubeSensors to monitor air quality at home or on the WeMo -App to adjust the temperature on the smart pot, because we are still in a traffic jam.
Our home is not only our sanctuary, but also a carefully calibrated and highly personalized ecosystem adapted to us alone or few other people. Or at least it will be soon.
As much as I look forward to the prospect of living in a Smart City, I am all the more impatient for the day when my Roomba not only removes the woolly mice, but also takes care of the laundry, the dirty dishes, and my tax returns – one will still be allowed to dream.
An intelligent home, a smart neighborhood, an intelligent city – that’s how we can gradually redefine the way we live. And we can do it in a way that makes life on our planet a little more relaxed.
Also interesting: when smart cities are booming
About the author: Greg James was a partner and head of content for the agency Cake, which was acquired by Havas in 2008. He was promoted to US Managing Director of the Cake Group in 2010 and joined Havas Media in 2013 as Chief Strategy Officer North America. In 2018, following new US deals and award-winning campaigns for LVMH, Vodafone, Nintendo and Coca-Cola, he became the Global Chief Strategy Officer of the Havas Media Group.