Science & Nature

Jul 1, 2017

THE SMART FUTURE

The age of smart things is threatening to turn many things into "smart-something". And, one of the most important aspects of these transformations, is that the size of these "smart-things" is no longer a limitation.

The concept of smart city or future city is no longer attached to the domain of science fiction or some kind of far-away idea of social organisation. And no, it's not also about they being occupied only by small cars or free Wi-Fi for all.

Let there be no doubt: cities are changing and, soon, our cities will be smart! And the thing that's been giving strong contribution for this profound change is technology and its evolution.

The development of "Internet of Things" (an interactive network between physical devices), implementation of various types and functions of sensors, increasingly fast communication network, global position systems, Cloud Computing and Big Data have been contributing towards the symbiosis between the physical and digital worlds.

In a close future, all these components will be connected, in permanent communication and in real time, and they will be able to change simple things such as the path back home after a days' work.

But what are, really, smart cities?

They are more efficient cities, automatized, autonomous, sustainable and pleasant to live in. They are cities which nurture the citizen instead of repelling them.

"Pure imagination", some would say.

It is estimated that, in 2020, 20 percent of all devices will be connected. And, UN numbers point out for, in 2050, an amazing number of 70 percent of the worlds' population will be living and working in the cities. So we can have an idea, we are talking about 6,7 billion inhabitants.

Nowadays, there are already being implemented smart and autonomous transportation networks, there are already cars which don't need the intervention of the human element and there even are cities where garbage containers are being monitored for better waste management and recycling.

In San Francisco, in the United States, traffic control systems already allow forwarding huge masses of vehicles by alternative routes, thus reducing the unnecessary waste of fuel and pollutant gaseous emission. In Barcelona, Spain, there are already sensors implanted which allow the forecast of climate changes, thus preventing water waste. In Holland, in the Ameland island, a new smart public lighting system was installed: new LED lamps emit a soft blue-green light, which becomes stronger and brighter to the pawns approach. And there those who consider London, England, as todays' smartest city and a "living laboratory for technological experiments".

Still think it's only imagination?

"Smart", doesn't only mean connecting devices and services, it means huge quantity data storage. The objective is quite clear: by converging all collected data into a command centre, it is possible to assess with confidence, the health state of the city itself so that its efficiency can be improved at each moment.

Because, a city, to be smart, will surely have to be so. It's the same to say, In addition to collecting this monumental data volume, it will have to know what to do with it and, above all, how to act according to it improving the performance of services, inhabitants, transportation, equipment and even buildings.

There is already an opinion trend that holds that the creation of intelligent cities is not just a technological issue, but a political, social, economic and environmental imperative.

Plus, there are clear signs that, before the evidences, political classes are committed to create legal support which can prevent this technological "lock-in" to be used in the sense of loss of privacy, freedom and rights of citizens.

All this because, in the Big Data age, collected data have been frequently considered as impartial and free from political ideology. And this is not necessarily true, as these data are often conditioned to contexts, methods, collecting technology and submitted to scrutiny in the processing, management, analysis and storage stage.

It is, therefore, necessary to understand that the cities organizations are complementary and complex systems, shaped by culture and economical scales, generating conflicts and dynamics of its own. And that these technological evolutions should be placed at the service of a greater inclusion of different origins and cultures, on creation of conditions for the involvement of citizens in decision-making and in the definition of the urban future.

Almost 70 years after the publication of George Orwell's "1984", the concept of "Big Brother" strikes back.

It's just that, no matter how smart and efficient the (inevitable) cities of the future may be, it is important to be aware that it is very likely they will destroy democracy. Furthermost, we should understand the benefits of these "smart cities" are undeniable. And that we've reached the point when the right question is not whether we can afford to build them, but rather, if we can afford not to.

More Articles

FeaturedArticles

  • dubrovnik_croatia-1_inpixbay

    Lifestyle & Travel

    Jun 28, 2018

    A WELL HIDDEN TREASURE

    Croatia is a secular country with a rich architectural history preserved to this day. With cutting breath landscapes, the country charms by the green nature and marine blue contrasting the old monuments. Shall we take a look to the...

  • DSC00353

    Food & Beverage

    Jun 1, 2017

    TENDER SWEETNESS

    Despite its vast therapeutic potential, the fruit custard apple or Annona coriacea, from Lobito, Angola, continues to be under-estimated and "treated" as a third quality product.

  • 1

    Culture & Art

    Oct 8, 2018

    MILESTII MICI

    "Imagine a cellar with hundreds of kilometers of tunnels full of wine, some million bottles, thousands of hectoliters in barrels, hundreds of crops, tens of varieties, so big underground it can only be visited by car. This is the...


  • 1. Technology-Remarkable-Your Paper, Digital

    Technology

    Feb 1, 2018

    YOUR PAPER, DIGITAL

    We all got used to, since school and university age, take notes on paper. Whether in conferences, business meetings or workshops, it was almost ubiquitous the use of notes books in several shapes and formats, since the pocket ones...

  • mindfullness1

    Lifestyle & Travel

    Sep 17, 2018

    MINDFULLNESS

    "Living here and now" this is the mindfulness rule. Original from the Buddhist doctrine, the mindfulness is a technique that practices the full attention and the connection between the body and the mind, with yourself,...

  • 19620901_739735632865157_1070968012579382532_o

    Home & Design

    Aug 1, 2017

    WESTERN STYLE, JAPANESE WISDOM

    You don't need to watch Kill Bill-Volume 2, be a great chef or a master swordsman to know the best blades in the world are Japanese. Their reputation for blades dates back to the 13th century.


  • The Aquaculture Revolution

    Food & Beverage

    Dec 31, 2015

    The Aquaculture Revolution

    Norwegian salmon producer Nordlaks has applied to build three new revolutionary marine farming vessels, which are projected to become operative by 2017. If the project is realized, it will be the world's longest ship.

  • Technology

    Apr 1, 2015

    Tractor Solutions

    The Vapormatic Company was founded in Budleigh Salterton, East Devon, in 1949 by Arthur E. Lea, a former sales executive with Shell Petroleum, and Ron Foster, an Engineer who had designed and developed a device to convert petrol engines...

  • Food & Beverage

    Sep 1, 2015

    Versatile Sunflower

    Sunflower seeds are the gift of the beautiful sunflower that has rays of petals emanating from its bright yellow, seed-studded center.