It’s true that so called ‘smart’ technologies are all the rage right now, with new designs constantly being introduced to the market. This concept, dubbed the Internet of Things, is grabbing interest from everyone from app developers to city planners. Here are a few ways we foresee the Internet of Things having an influence on urban development and energy in the years to come.

The Dream of Smart Cities

If you’re like us you might be curious, what does a futuristic city look like under the influence of the Internet of Things concept?  Planners, engineers, and architects are dreaming of cities where utilities, roads, and buildings are able to connect via the internet. Imagine smart street lamps, smart sewage systems, or even smart sidewalks, where everything is connected to the internet and thus able to interact and be influenced by other things also on the grid. Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it?

Real World Examples

Smart cities are already starting to crop up in the real world. Songdo, South Korea and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi both are examples of subtly smart, connected cities. They are precisely planned and feature a number of smart logistical designs, yet they don’t look like something out of a science fiction film. Other recognized “smart” cities include Barcelona, Copenhagen, Tel Aviv, and London, with Los Angeles and New York working on incorporating smart features such as quantifying foot traffic, waste, and energy consumption, all in real time.

Applications of the Internet of Things

The most exciting thing from an urban planner’s perspective related to smart cities, is the wide range of opportunities to use the Internet to improve city living. Traffic management is an obvious use of the technology. But also consider how public parks might benefit from a little extra connectivity, how parking, energy use, and water consumption might be influenced by access to the web, etc. Even further in the future, but not even that far these days, you’re looking at self-driving cars changing the way urban dwellers experience daily life. The applications for these smart technologies are seemingly limitless, but they are likely to impact city life in a few key ways. Namely, the Internet of Things is likely to influence infrastructure, Architecture, and Public Spaces.

The Path Ahead

While it can be argued that we already exist in this futuristic society, there are a few hold ups that seem to be slowing down progress. Cost, for one, is the elephant in the room. City upgrades are likely to be billed to local tax payers who may not be so interested in smart lamp posts when they see the price tag. Another concern is public skepticism of the usefulness or even safety of the upgrades. Security concerns, privacy issues, and cost control must all be taken into account when planning for the city of the future. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s highly likely that smart technology will influence the design of city living because the Internet of Things is such an exciting and technology-changing concept that it won’t likely be going away any time soon.

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