Blog post

Dear Cities in 2015

By Bettina Tratz-Ryan | October 06, 2015 | 0 Comments

Dear Cities in 2015,
A city in 2050 is built on the principles of a knowledge society that drives citizen and government entrepreneurship and interactive community engagements. At the center of knowledge society is a “Digital Me”, describing citizen preferences and daily routines for various personas that a person or a business can represent. Those personas, me as a commuter, a home owner, a parent, a diabetic or an environmentalist, can be shared by the citizen among all friends and families, businesses, government and social groups that drive common trending and sentiments for the city and for the individual.
The city engages with “Digital Me” on different levels, with its roads, buildings or green parks as well as through its city service and app store that offers different services and information sets to a virtual city counter. That city service and app store empowers citizens- residential and business alike- to gain city experiences, so the information or application is aligned to the different citizen requirements. Because of the trust certificates (or data governance rules) that the city has implemented, citizen privacy concerns are well taken care of, which is a slow process that needs to start in 2015 to define the significance of understanding the “Digital Me” and the personas for the development of knowledge exchange in city environments.
Exchanging ideas and knowledge among the society becomes more interactive across various venues, so not just in a classical learning environment like schools and research centers, but also while we riding in autonomous vehicles or visit virtual community centers. “Digital Me” enable the micro exchange of knowledge through digital content, may this be in video, digital signage or media, as well as in social blogs and community sites with real time updates based on the citizen’s location or activity. We need to start to build this culture of sharing already in 2015 into our city development, as many urban strategies leading up to the engagement learning in 2050 are initially driven by efficiency models for the city, not for community development for citizens.
In 2050, the citizen community is extremely sensitive to the changes in the environment of our city. Unfortunately, climate change has increased the heat density in streets and buildings, and clean water guidance is in effect many months of the year. This is something that really has to be addressed immediately in 2015. Citizens have the ability to become green stewards, signing up for a programme that allows them to be recognized for their thoughtleadership in their homes, their work place and their community. Right now in mid of 2050, we have about 65 percent of our citizens, including businesses, registered as green stewards, which is an awesome accomplishment.
Learning from each other is a great knowledge base, but then also advocating best practice to our employees, industries, or environment providers is key. Utilities and public services have changed over time their role from being a provider of clean energy, water, green spaces or waste management to become facilitators of activities, including the provisioning or exchange of knowledge and information for circular economy, renewable energy trading between homes and buildings, or water recycling. Building architects have really got some great ideas from the communities around spatial management, adding vertical gardens on house walls for climate insulation and clean air, as well as ambience. Organic food is extremely valuable, and the building guidance for a vertical farm on rooftops and in basements is a great resource for locally grown products. The harvest is as good as the building management systems, so it is an easy return on investment for real estate owners.
Social media does a lot to build strong learnings from household garbage recycling all the way to using the right mobility mode for a specific time of day to keep air pollution and CO2 emission at a minimum.
In this regard, dematerialization has contributed tremendously to keeping the city green, while creating new business and citizen opportunities. Trigger for that is the consumerization of, what in 2015 would be regarded as innovation technologies, such as augmented reality, autonomous mobility or artificial intelligence. 3D printing at home and on the go has changed the economic thrust towards small and medium companies with integration and maintenance services remotely, just print out the piece of equipment that is broken. The resulting disintermediation of long supply chain cycles is enormous, as users do not need to go to a physical store or place to obtain the item, but now can print it at home. And if it can not be printed, autonomous vehicles, drones or small carts, are delivering specialty goods to the citizen or the business, so no extra traffic congestion and pollution involved.
The good part is that through the high penetration of augmented reality devices in smart homes, telemedicine and e-learning have become more people oriented, and helped tremendously to advance the knowledge and health index of the city. Especially in elderly care, augmented reality and smart machine environments become a daily assistant to people, who really enjoy longer their independence and their quality of life. The introduction of smart assistants to reduce the mental or traditional resistance on the contribution of “awkward devices or things” in user’s daily life especially for home health and service environments needs to be addressed already in 2015.
The collaboration between city government and the community is very interactive and transparent. That has an impact on the vital operations requirements of the city. Virtual and physical security has a high priority, and the widespread data gathering from different types of sensors, linked to analytics around specific threats and security issues, have really made the city a safer environment. Data transparency within different government agencies have led to new infrastructure and virtual service counters, so that government becomes accessible 24×7. Connecting the “Digital Me” to a society of learning and sharing, the city in 2050 becomes a center of citizen and government entrepreneurship.
Meeting of the Minds and are knowledge sharing platforms that consist of city leaders, urbanists and technology innovators. This blog is a contribution to drive vision and creativity on how cities need to evolve in the next 35 years. More contributions can be found on and at #dear2015. Gartner has researched the key technology principles and the impact on building smart cities for a global client community.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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