Smart cities are coming…what will they look like?

Smart Cities, as much as 55% of the overall worlds population will live in cities by the next decade (2020’s). That number varies of course depending upon which source you choose to trust. But it is greater than 50% of the world’s population living in Cities. Cities haven’t changed horribly in the past 500 years. They are about to change radically.

If you would indulge me for a moment, a city is a living breathing entity. Smart cities are able to respond to changes quickly. Traffic flow can be managed quickly. Choke points within that flow can be managed and traffic rerouted around the choke points. Energy moves within the smart city, produced within the city and shared amongst its residents. Sure there is an ongoing infrastructure cost of the system but the cost of energy overall drops.

The path to smart cities isn’t easy. First off most cities today have infrastructure already. So this isn’t a green field. Most cities today have existing problems (traffic, congestion, pollution) but there are some easy steps that most cities could quickly embrace.

1. SOLAR ROOFTOPS. Really? Do I have to say more? OK I will. Every roof of every skyscraper should have solar panels. Retractable ones for helicopter pads. But come on that is solar real-estate that no one will see. Its above our heads and will reduce the cost and pollution of large buildings.

2. If rooftops don’t work for some buildings you could also put one strip of solar panels down the sun facing side of the building. The same effect as the roof, and again reducing the impact of buildings.

3. A city as a cloud services broker for its citizen and the services offered by the city. A cloud broker that offers Cyber Physical System broker, cloud services, city services and other essential tools for its citizens. There are cities that have single catalog to get and find, use and leverage city services. With cities as cloud brokers providing for their citizens they can also provide greater security within the personal and home private cloud space.

4. Incubation services – a city could offer startups and attractive new companies a incubation service that might include the broker above, security services and access to assets and resources the city already has for startups.

The interesting question for cities future is what kind of cart city emerges? Do we end  up with the long projected Megalopolis’, large cities that spread across countries? NYC and Washington DC meeting half way? Or do we end up with many more small cities? The trend is towards larger cities. They can afford the cost of the infrastructure change. Small towns can’t afford to maintain the myriad of systems the larger cities would offer and over time will probably be consumed by expanding large cities.

Would cities offer their citizens home private and personal cloud security devices managed by the city? Of course that brings to mind Big Brother. Yes George Orwell’s vision of a government that knew too much. But it also would increase the overall safety for every organization in a geographic area. A black box in your home that the city can update and manage that will protect your home systems. A chip in your cell phone that can be updated by the city you are currently in and the system you are connected to.

The value is pretty high for such an infrastructure. The risk is even greater, as you now give up access to the world you live in. You will carry an asset that is partially controlled. You gain peace of mind, you lose some freedom.


Wondering about smart cities…