What will our cities of the future look like?
We are moving towards an increasingly urban world. The United Nations predicts that nearly 84% of people will live in cities in 2050. This is a trend that has not been impacted by the current global pandemic. With more people moving to urban areas, the way we go to work, visit friends and family and move around the place we live is going to fundamentally change. Cities need to become smarter in order to accommodate the growing mobility needs of the population. But what does a smart city really look like?
Transport is the key to a smart city
Cities are already becoming increasingly smart with many employing cloud-based technology to analyze and manage data to help improve the quality of life.At the moment, this takes the form of shared data that makes city living easier or solves certain problems. For example, the city of Amsterdam shares its traffic and transportation data with third-party developers who can then create mapping apps that connect to transport systems. This means that getting around the city is easy, no matter what form of transport you choose.
Copenhagen is also leading the way with its commitment to become a carbon-neutral capital by 2025. The Copenhagen Connecting plan will provide an integrated approach to data sharing that aims to improve city services. Intelligent use of wireless data from cell phones, GPS in busses, and sensors in sewers and garbage cans will assist Copenhagen politicians in achieving the city's objectives of reduced congestion, air pollution, and CO2 emissions.
In the U.S., Goodyear together with EASE Logistics and the City of Dublin, Ohio, announced collaboration in the areas of tire intelligence and cloud-based logistics within an innovation region in Ohio known as the Beta District. With the potential to share and enhance data on connected mobility, these experiments could lead to new products and solutions that will benefit cities in the future.
The connected car plays a vital role
With this kind of data sharing increasing in cities all over Europe, things will only get smarter. For this to work, however, we need to look at the connected car. Cars that are connected to the world around them will significantly improve how we move around a city. From ensuring that traffic keeps moving, to reducing congestion at peak times, to keeping roads in good condition, there's a surprising amount that a connected car can do for our cities.
Goodyear's intelligent tires are a great example of how technology is being introduced into cars that could have wide-reaching benefit in the future. At the moment, these tires enable fleets of last mile delivery trucks and car sharing companies to better manage their tire usage. The sensors in the tire report back important information such as wear, temperature and pressure, allowing fleet managers to address any issues that could result in downtime of their vehicles.
As we look to the future, and look at moving from internal combustion engines to electric motors with fewer moving parts, the tire becomes that main part that needs to be managed and replaced. Sensors help with uptime but they'll also play a large part in autonomous fleets, too.
Goodyear is working towards, for example, being able to find out the state of the road the vehicle is on. Is it wet? Is it snowy? Is it slippery? And based on that information from the tire, providing the autonomous vehicle information on stopping distances, for example, as a key to an autonomous future.
Intelligent tires aren't a far off pipe dream either, as Goodyear plans to see these tires on consumer vehicles as soon as this year.
The city of the future is more sustainable
Under-inflated tires, roads in poor condition, and congested junctions all contribute to city pollution but as our cities and vehicles become more intelligent, all these aspects will improve. Goodyear estimates that 20% of vehicles on the road are running under-inflated tires, which directly impacts their fuel economy. So even that alone can make a huge difference to city driving.
Cars communicating with traffic lights can help with congestion and minimize how many vehicles are stop-starting in residential areas, and smart street lighting can monitor traffic levels then direct in-car navigation systems appropriately. The use of electric vehicles and autonomous fleets alongside micromobility schemes would further contribute to the sustainability of a city.
We're on our way
Our cities are getting increasingly smart and the more the infrastructure is able to connect with different departments, vehicles, and pedestrians, this will only increase. As we move towards a world where ride-hailing, car sharing, and even autonomous transport, become more commonplace, there's going to be a shift in mindset to accommodate all these forms of mobility — alongside traditional public transport and car ownership.
To make city mobility as seamless as possible, it requires a smart connected eco-system that not only makes transport more accessible and safe but also improves living standards within the city by decreasing pollution.