Smartcities Will Need Smartcitizens

THERE’S a really fascinating series on the BBC website right now looking at the SmartCity of the future – 2050, to be precise.

The series of articles looks at current ‘connected’ cities around the world, the companies and people who operate inside them, and then takes a look at what the future may look like.

For a geek like me this series really does cover all bases. I get to look at potential future technology courtesy of some of the best guesses from today’s most acclaimed tech experts.

And I get to peek behind the net curtain of possible future humanity. Who doesn’t love a bit of people watching?

It seems, in many ways, the future is already here. There are some truly fantastic jobs already being done around the globe which harness the power of uber-technology to produce tomorrow today. It’s awe-inspiring and mind-boggling all at once.

Then, if you stretch that understanding forward in time a generation and a bit to 2050, the possibilities do become incredible.

In the future everything in a city, from the electricity grid, to the sewer pipes to roads, buildings and cars will be connected to the network or maybe even its own ‘cloud’. Buildings will turn off the lights for you, self-driving cars will find you that sought-after parking space, even the rubbish bins will be smart.

Half of the world’s population will live in its cities by 2050, it is reckoned. And our cities will have to be up to spec to cope.

Oddly, though the boundaries of civilised city life may be being pushed further than ever before, these advancements are more invisible than at any other time in history.

Technological advancements of the past involved massive city redesign to allow train lines to be laid or new multi-lane highways to be built through existing communities.

These days major change is often measured in radio waves with hardly even a whisper of physical, visible movement in a city.

But it’s happening, all around us, every day. And if you look carefully you can see the edges of this wave – cameras, aerials, smart-parking-meters, digitally connected traffic wardens.

By my reckoning, the one thing they’ve not considered is that for a city to be truly ‘smart’ it surely has to be populated by ‘SmartCitizens’.

And the sheer diversity of window-licking organisms masquerading as human beings I’ve encountered in pretty much every city centre I’ve visited, will surely mean that will never quite be possible.

There will always be village idiots. The bigger the village the bigger the idiots that occupy it. Just a thought.

Here’s the link to the BBC SmartCity coverage:

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