What will smart cities be like in 100 years?


When thinking about what the smart cities of the future will look like, it’s easy to get carried away and focus on the little flashy, quirky devices that tickle our sense of self-importance. They definitely are eye-grabbers. Still, you can’t help but notice how… small they feel. Surely the IoT is about more than colour-changing T-shirts, right?

If we are to meet technology’s full potential we have to think big, which interestingly enough, in this case, means invisible. Big problems, by their very nature, require a holistic approach and comprehensive, paradigm-changing solutions which owing to their breadth of deployment, simply blend in the environment. So what problems might smart cities solve a century from now?

Transport and traffic management

It’s known that a significant percentage of all inner-city traffic are cars looking for parking. The result is soaring pollution levels, a loss of productivity and increased health problems for those caught in it. A century from now, though, parking tills will know how many free parking spaces there are and their exact location. By transmitting this information to your (self-driving, electric) car, the number of vehicles on the road will be kept to a minimum. What’s more, having real-time input from the sensors in the traffic lights (and probably the street itself) means it will be possible for the traffic flow to be directed to less congested areas.

Infrastructure maintenance

A city that’s properly maintained is a solid boost to its citizens’ quality of life. At the moment, potholes, leaking water pipes, malfunctioning streetlamps and other issues can sometimes be ignored for months. Imagine how valuable it would be to have them alert us when there’s a problem and pinpoint exactly where the work is required.

No more regular inspections, no more extensive damage as a result of neglect or late reporting, and definitely no more wasting resources. The cost savings would be considerable, to say nothing of the fact that it would reduce our carbon footprint, as well. The smart city in a hundred years’ time will be relying on sensors to make sure it acts as quickly and specifically as possible.

Energy efficiency

Most of the planet’s population will live in a city by as early as 2050. They will account for both the majority of energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Therefore, ensuring cities utilise as little energy as possible while maximising their output will be key. Yes, cities will produce energy. Architecture will grow to accommodate energy producing capabilities such as wind turbines and solar panels. This will then be consumed but also distributed to other buildings. Rain water will be collected and harnessed as an alternative to the main water supply network. No one system will be overloaded thanks to the diversity of energy sources and overall efficient consumption.

These are some of the most important issues that smart cities will have to provide a solution for in the next century, but the list goes on. With the world’s present rate of population growth and the challenges posed by climate change, the work is definitely cut out for human kind to make them a reality sooner rather than later.