The digital age is enabling city planners to shape the way cities will be managed and developed to be ‘smart’ and sustainable. Urban sprawl increasingly will give way to cities as places for people to experience life, work and leisure, not just a landscape of lifeless bricks, steel and concrete.
Smart or green, sustainable cities have access to relevant data to optimise the way they are managed and developed for people. Such data is multi-faceted, with sensor and Internet technology capturing information ranging from the use of renewable energy to low or zero carbon transportation, from health monitoring to accessible services for people, enhancing the experience of living in a digital, connected world. Data also drives the industrial manufacturing complexes adjacent to the city, using intelligent engineering infrastructure to drive the value of increasingly efficient relationships between people, processes and technology.
The data is transformed into useable intelligence on a dynamic data platform. With its 3D design, virtualisation and data integration capabilities, the platform configures relevant and accurate data from physical, biological and chemical sources in three dimensions, to enable city authorities to experience and shape new city developments, anticipating where and how people wish to live, work and play, optimising energy use, providing the transportation requirements relevant to the contemporary world, ensuring harmony between life and nature and asking the difficult ‘what if’ and ‘if we‘ questions in future scenario modelling.
The arteries of the sustainable city are created by the integrated data network, with its inhabitants having relevant information about the city to enhance their lives – where to shop, access to healthcare, transport and mobility options, notification of educational and leisure activities – the list of services for people is limited only by imagination.
There are however significant challenges to overcome. In cities which have grown over time there will be legacy buildings and communities to incorporate, retrofitting appropriate technologies to manage energy and environmental issues in a manner sympathetic to their history. The juxtaposition of living spaces with community services, leisure and commercial spaces, the incorporation of natural, green spaces to enable nature to contribute to air quality through natural cleansing and pollution reduction, and the communication links between them, will require rethinking, with that thinking driving the planning of new developments. Using the intelligence derived from a dynamic data platform, the city authorities have the ability to manage the legacy, sustain the present and develop the future, with the platform providing a window into their city.
This approach will not only benefit the natural environment but will reduce costs in an increasingly cost-conscious world, leading to dramatic reductions in domestic, commercial and industrial waste. Significantly, it will harmonise life, product and nature, creating spaces where people feel secure and at ease with themselves in an environment designed to sustain healthy and productive lifestyles.