Prioritizing Sustainability in Smart Cities
The cities of the future will be smart and sustainable. Sustainability here refers to social inclusion and community development, environmental protection and impact mitigation, and economic growth that takes into account externalities - this must go hand in hand with 'smart' growth and development across cities and regions. Let us look at three key sectors where changes can be implemented today.
The vehicles of the future will be low emission and contribute to the energy grid, for example by generating energy from solar panels. How can bike lanes and light rails be added to roads and bridges to reduce traffic congestion and emissions at the same time? Will public and private shuttles use an Uber Pool model through the increased use of HOV lanes and rideshare programs? The study of traffic patterns and driver behavior can also be used to minimize accidents once more vehicles are automated.
Vertical mixed-use development, which places grocery stores, restaurants, and health services at the bottom of residential buildings that also include office space, is critical so that people have to travel or commute less on a daily basis. One can integrate improvements and retrofits with new construction with the goal of minimizing surface area and increasing density such that more people can share space in an intelligent way. As more people work from home, shop from home, and order food delivery, how can goods and services be provided conveniently and at low cost? Machines may not be able to prepare clothes or meals as well as humans can, and thus people-centric jobs of the future include bespoke apparel makers and gourmet chefs. The delivery can be personalized and humanized - while data on customer preferences can be stored and managed to optimize quality and efficiency.
How can new energy be generated in a sustainable fashion? The best option is to increase renewable energy production, for example from wind and solar power, while minimizing extractive activities that produce fossil fuels and cause greenhouse gas emissions to be emitted (that cause climate change). While using new energy sources, energy consumption can be reduced by turning off lights, AC, and heating when no one is present and coordinating elevators and escalators to operate in tandem. Allowing consumers to generate and sell their own energy from smart homes (powered by solar and geothermal), measuring and managing energy use, alongside improving options for energy storage, will improve these systems as a whole.
As a key pillar of smart planning, Sustainability will help to guide smart development and growth across cities and regions. This means we will reduce environmental impact and maximize energy efficiency, leveraging these efforts to bolster social mobility and economic development for communities of all sizes.
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