5 ways smart cities will boost your quality of life in the next decade

Population trends are accelerating in the 2020s, and that creates some major challenges for cities around the world. As people steadily become more urbanised, with 68% of the global population expected to be living in cities by 2050, the influx of people is increasing pressure on resources, space and sustainability. 
But new technologies hold the key to easing those pressures. Smart cities - digitally powered and integrated - are driving innovation in city planning and development, making them more sustainable, more efficient and more liveable. 
Here’s five smart city trends we can expect by 2025.

Efficiency: Smart buildings
‘Connected everything’ gives real estate developers, owners and facilities managers deeper insights into precisely how and when buildings are occupied, maximising efficiencies and minimising costs. 
In a smart building, IoT tech including sensors, software and digital connectivity can create a digital twin of the building, to monitor, predict and automate which lights should be on and which rooms should be heated, ventilated and air conditioned at any given time, ensuring energy is only used in spaces which are occupied. 

Sustainability: Connected forests
There’s another IoT making the world a safer place in the 2020s: the Internet of Trees. Smart forests, connected via 5G, will be a game changer for those who live near them.
In Lebanon, sensors are being installed in seven forests to monitor temperature and humidity levels. Machine learning algorithms learn the specific natural characteristics of each forest, then compare them with real-time data from trees and with current weather conditions, to send an early warning of potential forest fire.

In the UK, Vodafone has partnered with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to install sensors that assess the impact of temperature, humidity and soil moisture on tree growth - helping to tackle climate change. 
And in Cancun, Mexico, architects are planning one of the world’s first smart forest cities: a 557 hectare metropolitan area with 362 hectares of planted surfaces, housing over 120,000 species of plants. Big data and analytics will optimise energy efficiencies - with buildings anticipated to require around half that of a typical building in the region - and a high-tech innovation campus will continue developing technologies to make the city more liveable, sustainable and efficient.

 

Mobility: Autonomous electric vehicles & intelligent traffic management
Smart cities are easing congestion, carbon emissions and the associated health risks with two innovations: electric vehicles, navigating through 5G networks, and intelligent traffic management, using AI to predict where hold-ups might arise and adapt traffic light phasing and road capacity to minimise standstills. 
At least 47 cities around the world are piloting self-driving cars, including San Jose, California, where Mercedes-Benz and Bosch have launched trials of autonomous taxis ordered via app and controlled with custom software. In New York City, transit authorities are undertaking one of the world’s first trials of autonomous buses in a dedicated lane in the Lincoln Tunnel, the busiest stretch of highway in the U.S. If successful, the scheme could allow for an additional 200 buses per day through the tunnel, boosting passenger capacity by 30%.

Resilience: Smart water management
In the Dutch coastal city of Rotterdam, which like most of the country lies at or below sea level, digital flood control systems use integrated forecasting tools, sensors measuring water levels and satellite imagery to enable faster decision-making and protect the city from climate change.
The city’s harbour is kept clean with four WasteSharks, autonomous aquadrones designed to remove up to 350kg of plastics and other debris at a time from the surface of the water. Equipped with cameras, the drones also send imagery in real time to the quayside, allowing port operators to inspect the water remotely and anticipate hazards to health and safety.  

Wellbeing: Digital health
Smart cities and healthcare technology are becoming increasingly interlinked. One such example can be found in Singapore, where citizens’ health, wellbeing and happiness are central to the management of the city. Digital health interventions to improve access to, and outcomes of, care are widely available, reducing pressures on a healthcare system dealing with an ageing population.
Singaporeans can undergo a consultation from their home via video link, and even rehabilitate from injury entirely remotely using wearable IoT devices which send data on their movements back to their physician. The city is even using AI-powered chatbots to support elderly people suffering from loneliness.