Really Smart Cities

This is unbelievable design work by Jacque Fresco–architect, futurist and only 96-years old!

As you watch this video, you just have to ask yourself, why didn’t we think of that sooner?

His design for the city of the future just seems so intuitive–and in aggregate looks almost like the Internet with a mesh design of interlocking cities working together harmoniously.

Great concepts:

– Circular cities–with a city center or central hub of essential services (medical, fire, police, etc.) and shopping, and radiating bands of living quarters, agriculture, and recreation.

– Build from the ground up–rather than build piecemeal, you build the entire architected city from the ground up–first underground infrastructure then building foundations, structures, and all modular, interlocking, interchangeable, and constantly maintained.

– Transportation Conveyers–transport up, down, and around by speedy conveyers or between city hubs by underground maglev trains.

– Recycle Everything–this is an environment where nothing is wasted and everything gets recycled.

– Energy Sustainability–all buildings have photovoltaic or solar cells for generating their own renewable energy resources.

– Clean Water/Air–vital resources like water and air is piped in, cleaned, and constantly monitored for safety.

Wow, this is a day and night difference from any city that I have ever seen–wouldn’t this be the type of place you’d like to raise your family in the future.

Maybe there are times when starting over with a fresh architecture perspective versus just tinkering with the old is necessary to make a bold leap forward–do you think this one of them? ūüėČ

>City 2.0 Makes City Sense

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They call it City 2.0‚ÄĒthat is cities that are IT enabled with all sorts of sensors and smart technology.

  • Cameras monitor traffic flow.
  • Sensors test water quality and monitor sewage runoff.
  • Smart meters keep track of energy usage.
  • Acoustical systems monitor structural integrity of bridges and other infrastructure.
  • Building management systems control ventilation, lighting, power, fire, and security.
  • Environmental monitoring tracks weather, smog, and even potential natural disasters.

And I think this is all probably still just the beginning…

Governing Magazine, April 2010 has an article entitled ‚ÄúThe Sentient City‚ÄĚ by Zach Patton‚ÄĚ that describes how systems are helping cities ‚Äúsend resources to the street corner where gangs are converging, manage traffic before it becomes congested, and respond to emergencies seamlessly‚ÄĒautomatically‚ÄĒbefore they‚Äôre even reported.‚ÄĚ

With technology, we are able to be not only more aware of our surroundings, but also be more proactive in managing them.

There are many critical technology elements that come into play for a sentient city:

  • Sensors‚ÄĒfor awareness of what is going on
  • Networking‚ÄĒfor linking together the sensors with the backend systems
  • Storage‚ÄĒfor housing all the incoming city data
  • Business Intelligence‚ÄĒfor making sense of it all
  • Alerting‚ÄĒfor notifying authorities and citizens of important happenings

According to analyst Rob Enderle, with technologies for a sentient city, ‚Äúyou can run a city cheaper and have happier and safer citizens.‚ÄĚ Further, according to the article, the city ‚Äúbecomes a more efficient place for people to live and work. It also means a government can do more with less.‚ÄĚ

Obviously, there is significant investment that needs to be made in city infrastructure, systems, and people to make this next generation of city living a complete reality.

But with the investment will come rewards of more and better information for managing all the people, places, and things interacting with each other in the environs.

The flip side of a sentient city is a certain degree of risk to people’s privacy. For example, where cameras and other sensors abound, people’s comings, goings, and doings could become subject to invasive scrutiny.

In this case, a little information can become a dangerous thing without adequate safeguards as to what can be monitored, when, and with how much personally identifiable information. For example, this issue is currently being dealt with at airports full body technology scanners that are programmed to hide a person’s facial identity.

The benefits of sensing and monitoring our environment are great in terms of efficiencies, safety, and security of our citizens, and I believe that this capability will grow from discrete sensing systems into more holistic city management systems that monitors all the city’s functions and operations, feeds this information into dynamic knowledge centers, and provides real-time information for managing day-to-day city living more intelligently and proactively.

As our population grows and our major city centers continue to have to deal with the ever greater potential for overcrowding, traffic, dirt, crime, and other facets of close knit metropolitan life, our need for more and better information for managing these will become ever more critical to support the continued livability and likability of our cities that we call home.