The cities of tomorrow

Can cities reinvent themselves to better serve their citizens? Smart cities, a growing reality focused on developing and improving city services.

Currently, approximately 4 billion people live in cities and it is expected that by 2050, this number will rise to 6.5 billion. To find out how to deal with the problems that this trend can cause, the Economist Intelligente Unit, in collaboration with AkzoNobel, has launched a new report that explores how these cities can accommodate their inhabitants to better respond to their needs.

Among other concerns, the specialists participating in the report have expressed their views on how to achieve a more efficient transport, cities in which the diversity and be more accessible or in which the environment and can adopt the advantages offered by the technology.

The technological revolution demands that the new Smart Cities not only meet the needs of their citizens, but also take into account climate change and invest to create jobs. Development and technology that, now more than ever, must have the human being at the core. It should also be noted that 90% of city growth occurs in Asia and Africa, regions that lack the resources to adapt to the forces of urbanization, further highlighting the need for inclusive and development policies that are supported by technology as an engine of progress.

Do you think that designing 100% smart and sustainable cities is a science fiction thing?

The City of Masdar is an example of what we can do if we seize opportunities. Located in the desert of Abi Dhabi, this urban nucleus has been built so that its carbon emission is totally neutral, thus becoming a role model for its carbon footprint. However, and although the idea is good, the ironic thing is that due to the global financial crisis, even today, despite existing, it is in itself a utopia. One of its main contradictions is that, due to the lack of affordable housing, the few workers in Masdar are forced to drive into the city in their own vehicle, which does not exactly contribute to the carbon footprint.

Ripin Kalra of the Max Lock Center states that the cities of the future must be sensitive to the values ​​of the people who inhabit them, taking into account the elderly, unemployed and young people, who despite not being economically active, play an important role in urban planning. And it is that, details such as buses with lower steps can make life easier for the elderly. An example of this is the city of Akita in Japan, which has undergone a restructuring of its planning to improve the lives of its older residents.

We hear many times about new technologies applied to urban development but … How can ICT provide solutions to make cities more efficient thanks to Smart Cities? Is this a reality? Although it is often seen as a utopia, currently there is data that shows that smart cities are an effective tool to be more sustainable. Thus, for example, in some of the projects that Telefónica already has underway, it can be seen that thanks to energy efficiency in buildings or public lighting, in some cities in Latin America and Spain savings of 10% of electricity costs are being achieved .

The cities of tomorrow make clear the need to seek services and products supported by ICTs, which allow us to optimize the limited resources of our planet and reduce the consumption of an increasingly numerous population.

Ultimately, it is about appreciating, understanding and valuing people as a key pillar of the city. New technologies thus become a tool to empower and put people as a main value, creating and designing an ecosystem where human interaction can prosper in a sustainable and responsible way with the environment.

This article was originally published on the Telefónica Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability blog.

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