The buzz: “We believe that energy utilities have an important role to play in ‘smart city’ initiatives.” (4-traders.com “Scott Madden Reviews the Smart City Opportunity for Utilities” 05/25/17)
When talking about Smart City digital transformations, we typically hear about utilities-based municipal environmental services, such as electric mobility, smart grids, or even smart bins.
But to harness this huge potential, a city must embrace omni-channel citizen experiences, leverage assets and the Internet of Things, engage smarter workforces, accelerate growth innovation, re-design, and re-platform core city processes.
Coming to a city near you?
Decentralization of inhabited areas
You often hear that 60% of the world’s populations are expected to be living in urban areas by 2030. This assumption might be true for some parts of the world. However, I believe that with increasing digitization also the opposite will be the case: self-driving cars that can be consumed as a service, personalized medicine, increasing numbers of home offices, as well as other services that can be consumed via the net, will cause that people stay in or move to the peripherals. It is cheaper and greener, and the attractiveness of this will further increase as more people will relocate to country areas, which will also be seen in terms of jobs and new businesses. On-top technologies like 3D printing, will democratize the manufacturing process. Everybody can contribute and distribute their own production resources, be it semi-finished goods, private charging infrastructure or storage solutions – and make money!
However, this development requires rapid progress in country-wide IT infrastructure expansion and this again requires political backing and major priority investments.
The term “Smart City” should be extended to “Smart and connected residential areas” where this is feasible.
This doesn’t mean that cities will disappear – but could mean that the countryside will enjoy a new renaissance. It makes good economic sense, the environmental conditions, and therefore also the living conditions are often better.
Work: People have the infrastructure in place to work from home.
Conventional techniques like video conferencing will be established and enhanced by holographic 3D projections.
Physical meetings will be drastically reduced to a minimum. Cities will provide an on-demand mobility service to commute to the companies that remain in agglomerations.
Mobility: Self-driving electric cars will be sent real-time information about traffic, topography, work schedules, as well as personal preferences.
A city provider will send the exact car you need.
E-cars will drop you at the office, meaning you don’t need to look for a parking space. It will then search for its next ride. It won’t only be able to pick up people, but also deliver goods, including food and beverages.
Less cars will use the roads because utilization by every car can be maximized up to 100 %. Less parking spaces are required as cars are constantly in motion and know when to recharge themselves.
Living: New living concepts will emerge, both within the cities or in the country-side: living in bridges, forests, on and under water.
In places with lower birthrates, you see that people no longer require so much space. Houses are becoming smaller and more functional, even mobile. Fancy houses are being built in unconventional places like bridges, on lakes or rivers, sometimes even under water. Other ideas are tree houses or partially recycling old building structures like old farms or industrial buildings.
Health and Safety and Disaster Recovery
Connected and personalized health will not require a patient to physically attend all appointments. The prescribed medicine will be ordered and delivered either by self-driving cars or by drones. The analysis will be done remotely using sensors or scanners.
Talking about sensors – they will be deployed everywhere.
For instance, to detect rising water in the ground to prevent agglomerations from flooding. These sensors in combination with predictive algorithms and machine learning will help to better forecast flooding and those areas that need to be evacuated. This is particularly important to hospitals. They need to talk to other hospitals in advance to align on evacuation strategies in the event of a flood. Another idea would be that the city administration provides a service where helpful citizens can enroll and state how many patient or refugees they would take in during a worst-case scenario.