Digital technology is becoming ever-more pervasive and the world is increasingly urban. The simultaneous rise of these trends find us at a unique intersection in space and time. In a reflective interview with Smart Circle that ranges from urban mobility and citizen participation to cyber terrorism and the future of sharing, Carlo Ratti, director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab aims to make sense of these changes. It’s a worthwhile read, particularly for those seeking to connect the “smart” city with it’s citizens.
The evolution of cities as labs is clear in a Fast Company interview with Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, a Google startup company. They discuss the opportunity technology presents to solve big urban challenges, the need for scalable solutions and a fourth technology revolution in modern cities. Perhaps most interestingly, Doctoroff emphasizes the need for new technologies to benefit the triple-helix of urban stakeholders: the City, the public and the private sector. A shift towards a kinder, gentler smart city?
No longer an emerging concept, the approach and application of the smart city is evolving rapidly. Over at Iambente, Boyd Cohen describes the three generations of smart cities that now exist. Beginning as an industry-led, technology-driven initiative, urban leaders quickly grasped specific applications for this approach, leading to the city-led, technology enabled smart city. In the past year, perhaps inspired by efforts in cities like Medellin, twinned with the sharing economy and pushed by slow economic growth, citizen co-creation has emerged as the third generation. Harnessing the potential of all residents will make cities even more innovative. The next generations of smart cities may be the most interesting and dynamic yet.
With the Internet of Things, controlling objects daily is becoming real. Valentin Heun at MIT’s Fluid Interfaces Lab introduced an app, Reality Editor, aiming to empower users to have more control over their smart tools. When you connect dots on your finger tip featuring the app, smart objects in a room start communicating each other. Combination of individual’s creativity and Reality Editor could bring interesting results to human interactions and physical environment outside of a room.
Could the disruptive power of Bitcoin be coming to real estate? Fast Company paints a compelling picture of what that might look like. In the future, houses might have digital addresses, not just physical. This could provide potential home-buyers with a transparent history of the home, it’s costs and even trades-people who have worked on it. For sellers, a block-chain based identity and financial history could provide greater certainty, without the many middle-men in real-estate today. This digital approach could enhance trust and authenticity, underlining the continuing advancement of the sharing economy.
Green building awareness, construction and data collection efforts have led to impressive data-driven opportunities to reduce resource consumption in buildings. However the voluntary approach, focusing on (mainly new and high end) buildings, have had only limited impacts on overall efficiency. Jeff Ranson, executive director of the Toronto 2030 District, argues that urban systems modelling can help drive community-scale resource efficiency. He identifies several programs that are doing so in Europe and proposes Toronto 2030 District for a pilot effort in North America.