Recently a magazine asked me to name my personal five trends in smarter cities. Though there are many more, a number of trends came to me immediately – based on what I’ve seen at the recent Smart City Event in the Amsterdam Arena, and the Smartest-City-of-Holland-election (where I performed as a member of the jury).So here are my five personal smart city trends:
Municipalities are finally awake
First it was only a few heralds like Amsterdam and Eindhoven. Also many initiatives were based on projects rather than programs, like the Digitale Steden Agenda. Meanwhile all major cities have formulated visions and missions, and basically every municipality has their entire governmental organization involved: from alderman to management and contractor. It’s not just the enthusiastic project managers any more.
The overthrow of the energy market
The generating of energy is not the issue any more. The question these days is how we are going to save the energy for moments we need it, and how we are going to distribute the energy in neighborhoods in a smart way. Energy grids will become micro grids (like is happening in Lombok in the city of Utrecht right now). The Tesla PowerWall, a home battery, is a perfect example of this.
Mobility as a quick win within smart thinking
I suddenly see a lot of projects and pilots arise that make infrastructure (i.e. intersections) a lot smarter, using data generated by cyclists and drivers (crowd based). It seems that all of the mobility professionals have embraced (new) urban technology to face their challanges. With sensors en big data it is possible to improve traffic lights and flow.
Big economic changes
In many sectors we see more and more shared based developments, for instance AirBnB or Uber. The big commercial companies sigh and moan and can’t keep up. Another tendency is the upcoming circular economy – for now mostly second hand stuff and organic food, but I expect in the future also broader: for all sorts of products. Look at what 3D printing can do already – in a few years you will be printing your dress from home and order custom made furniture from print shop IKEA.
Game changers for the next generation
Children these days have more and different possibilities than we have – it is hard for us to assess what it will mean for us in the short term. Yet we have to adapt, when we see that it astonishes kids when they find out you don’t have Wi-Fi everywhere, you can’t swipe on the television and who panic when they discover there’s no internet on their holiday address…. But now it’s going fast: smart homes by domotics-platforms from Google and Apple, the rise of 3D printing, drones and robotics – our children grow up with all this and will get used to it like we did with PC’s and digitalizing pictures and music. And those children are experimenting right now!