What Will the Cities of the Future Look Like?

By the year 2050, our cities will be entirely different places to what they are today. But what will cities of the future actually look like? First of all, they’ll be a lot more crowded. In three decades’ time, we can expect two thirds of the UK’s population to be living in urban areas. We also expect them to be far more connected. The onset of technology like the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and augmented reality will reshape our urban landscape. Here’s what you can look forward to…

The Revolution of Transport
We’re already seeing emerging technology beginning to reshape the face of transport. With Uber’s ease of ordering, Tesla’s green alternatives and breakthroughs in autonomous vehicles, the potential of transport tech innovations are clear for all to see.

So how will this affect the future?

Cars will be self-driving, this means you’ll spend much of your journey catching up on emails, working or watching your favourite shows. You won’t have to go through the hassle of finding a parking space, your car will drop you at your destination and do the rest itself.

So, what about public transport?

Public transport is likely to be where the majority of innovations occur. We’ll see entire networks of connected, autonomous pods. These will replace set route and timetabled services. You can order a pod via app and be picked up by the closest relevant vehicle. Any passengers heading in the same direction will be picked up en-route to your destination. You won’t have to waste time paying for a ticket. IoT technology will automatically read when you board and leave the vehicle, this will automatically deduct the exact amount upon your departure.

This hyper-efficient transport system will cause car ownership numbers to rapidly drop. This will lead to cleaner air, more green spaces and a rise in accessible cycle routes.

Smart and Sustainable Buildings
Public buildings will become intelligent. This means they will gather data from their occupants and visitors to ensure a flawless and efficient performance. This will be used to aide in continual improvement as well as helping with temperature control and safety monitoring.

Technological developments like solar windows will lead to buildings which are self-sufficient. These will be entirely sustainable in their day-to-day running. Any surplus energy will be offered out to the local area to ensure others around don’t run dry.

The Smart High-Street
The way we shop will also become the subject of innovation. Upon entering a clothing store, you’ll be assigned an interactive mirror or augmented reality changing room. These will already know your dress size, fashion preferences and upcoming social calendar. Using this information, you’ll be presented with personalised and relevant recommendations.

Bristol leading the way
Described by Raconteur as a ‘front runner in digital technology’, Bristol is taking huge steps forward in the development of future city infrastructures. Two leading consortia at the forefront of Connected & Autonomous Vehicles are based in Bristol with Innovate UK funding support (FLOURISH and VENTURER). The region’s excellence in computer science, robotics engineering, and systems integration helped secure these prestigious projects. Bristol is also leading the way in public transport innovations with companies such as ULTRA Global prt Ltd and their novel bod-based system.

Smarter use of energy in cities is being piloted with the CHOICES project in Easton, Bristol with funding from DECC. The smarter visualisation of data will be developed at the new VR Lab in Bristol, bringing academia, creative arts, and industry together to realise how VR and AR can transform everyday experiences like shopping.

“Our creative energy and strong community engagement gives rise to really exciting visions of the Future City,” explains Dr John Bradford, CEO of High Tech Bristol and Bath CIC, “and our enviable 40 year history of globally leading high tech innovation gives us the engineering to put those visions into practice.”

Festival of the Future City
To further validate the city’s move forwards, Bristol Festival of Ideas and the Future Cities Catapult bring the Festival of the Future City to Bristol in October 2017. Set between Wednesday 18th October and Friday 20th October, the three day event looks to be the largest public debate about the future of cities. The event will see politicians, writers, artists, scientists, academics, journalists and students come together to discuss important issues in emerging city technology.

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*written and edited with contribution from InnovateUK.