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Smart Cities: Nine Expert Predictions

04 Apr 2017

What will the cities of our future look like?

Smart cities, ones where everything from street lamps to water systems is connected and working together, are already being created. New York is converting their old pay phones into hi-tech WiFi and information hubs, while Barcelona overhauls its traffic system with sensors and smart parking technology.

It’s relatively early days though. Where are we going next? We went out and spoke to some experts and unique thinkers to get their top three smart city predictions.

Ranging in topics from security concerns to education, the future is looking interesting.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO and Partner at Getting Smart, an organization that supports innovation in learning, education & technology. He is also the author of ‘Smart Cities That Work for Everyone’. Find him on Twitter here.

Smart City Predictions - Kid Playing with Multi Touch Screen

  • Smart cities with a vibrant learning ecosystem will inspire, incubate, and invest in tools and schools—new learning models supported by new learning platforms. 
  • Smart cities will ensure that every learner has access to a three screen learning day: a communication device, a production device, and a sharing device—all with ubiquitous broadband access. 
  • Cities that win the future will skill up by investing in and coordinating lifelong learning—from preschool to job training. 

Manu Fernandez

Manu Fernandez is an urban strategist, consultant, and researcher. He is the founder of the Human Scale City urban agency and the author of the Ciudades a Escala Humana blog. Find him on Twitter here.

Smart City Predictions - Drone Flying in the Sky

  • Driverless mobility: We will see new forms of mobility and transportation modes. From drones delivering goods to automated on-surface public transport, private cars will not be the dominant way of moving around, particularly in city centers.
  • Command and control: Data integration platforms, situation-like control rooms and real-time visualization control panels will become the final aspiration of local politicians and officials to make the smart city real. Big data and simulation systems will be increasingly used to understand the functioning of cities, but this will also lead to a favorable condition for public authorities to be more invasive in the private sphere of people.
  • Vulnerability: We are still in the infancy of smart infrastructure deployment and it still seems there is no urgency in understanding the vulnerabilities it will bring. Major cyber-attacks, massive failures, and software bugs will become part of the landscape. As sophistication of urban services and infrastructures gets more dependent on adding automation layers, it will become inevitable that things like police or municipal tax records, traffic lights, and the energy grids will be vulnerable to failures, blockages and takes of control.

Cesar Cerrudo

Cesar Cerrudo is the CTO for IOActive Labs, a professional (good) hacker, and an expert on cyber security. Find him on Twitter here.

Smart  City Predictions - Outdoor Security Camera and Systems

  • There will be a growing number of cyber-attacks on smart cities given the quick technology adoption and the poor cyber security. Most smart city technologies have weak cyber security which allows abuse by attackers. Also governments aren’t doing much efforts in trying to protect smart cities from cyber-attacks. The same way that we see malware targeting companies and individuals, they will start targeting smart cities and city services will suffer the consequences.
  • Smart cities will continue to adopt new technologies nonstop providing better services for citizens and improving quality of life but this will be threatening by cyber-attacks.
  • After cyber-attacks on smart cities become more common, people will start complaining to governments and then governments will start requesting technology vendors to provide more secure technology and also government will start focusing more on cyber security.

Our top 4 takeaways for the digital signage eco-system:

  1. DOOH screens will expand from their current advertisement focus to become an integral part of the urban furniture – ranging from weather updates, news, education and more.
  2. Screens will be connected not only as a network but also with the users.
  3. As the various sources of data from smart sensors (IoT) are integrated, control rooms will further grow to help organizations visualize big data and track situations in real time.
  4. Protecting Privacy and Preventing Piracy will be critical in the connected smart cities. There will be a strong demand for robust and secure infrastructure backbone and content management systems to manage the digital signage networks.

Want more on smart cities?

Smart Cities: Beyond the Technology to People and Process, where Florence Engasser of Nesta—an innovation focused foundation—shares her thoughts on the relationships between citizens and policymakers, experimentation, and inclusivity in smart cities.

Smart Cities: Securing Privacy and Meeting Responsibilities, where CEO of Future of Privacy Forum shares his lessons learned after working with city CIO’s and signage companies on smart city projects.