Growing Pains

How cities must transform to meet the needs of tomorrow.

Cities are facing a monumental challenge. They’ve survived natural disasters and economic ruin, but as they continue to grow, they will have to accommodate the millions of new people moving to them every year. This is already happening now. 

The United Nations predicts that population growth combined with urbanization will add 2.5 billion more people to cities worldwide by 2050, transforming two-thirds of the global population into urban dwellers. The world will be defined by how these population centers bloom across the globe.

In order to thrive, cities must evolve well beyond the current infrastructure. The social, economic, and government structures that underpin well-designed, sustainable, and safe cities need to be adapted as well, and connected technology will likely be vital for accommodating the added stress population surges bring. Here, five visionaries predict how cities are going to change. 

Volkmar Denner
The Future of Urban Mobility Keynote, CES 2016

“I think it would be a missed chance if we substitute a stupid old lamp with a stupid modern lamp [in streetlights]. It would make a lot more sense to think about, can we add sensors in order to offer additional use cases—for example, to detect the presence of people? We could [also] have sensors that detect cars so lamps could serve to optimize traffic flow. [Bosch sees] the car of the future more like a personal assistant. [At CES] we show a car that interacts with your smart home, so when you approach home, you influence your home’s heating system, or you might look at the video security system and check that everything is safe before you leave the vehicle. Things like this are the connected car of the future.”

Lisa Füting
Project Manager, Audi Urban Future Initiative
Interview, Wired, Oct 2016

“The biggest change to the urban fabric will be to parking infrastructure. Parking will be moved indoors and outside of city centers, freeing up outdoor lots and spaces for development and public space. Lots then will be able to accommodate 60% more cars thanks to smaller driving lanes, greater maneuverability, and a lack of need for stairs and elevators.”

Ashley Z. Hand
Architect and co-founder, CityFi
Interview, University of Southern California Iovine and Young Academy, Apr 2017
“We are evolving our understanding of how a city’s design affects our social and political interactions, how well-designed streets and public spaces can be safer and more sustainable, data can inform design decisions. My beef with new smart technologies is that they are usually ugly and not ‘designed’ at all. I want smart cities to be well-designed down to the sidewalks and roadways. Otherwise, we may end up with a city full of cell tower ‘pine trees’ and a great big mess of pole attachments and devices.”

Amnon Shashua
Co-founder, CTO, and Chairman, Mobileye
The Future of Urban Mobility Keynote, CES 2016
“Both the car industry and consumer product companies need to evolve. The car players need to evolve toward content, computation, artificial intelligence, and user interface. Consumer electronic companies need to evolve toward building multiboard products that can work without any imperfections for at least five years. For car companies, [such evolution] is a natural growth. For consumer electronic companies, this is a change of DNA.”

Anthony Foxx
Former Mayor of Charlotte, N.C., Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation
Interview, The Verge, Nov 2016
“By 2021, families will be able to walk out of their homes and call a vehicle to take them to work or to school. [Autonomous] trucks are going to be running more closely together, which results in fuel savings and positive climate impact. I want us to have a broader imagination of how data can lift the safety advantages of autonomous cars. If an autonomous car runs over a pothole, will it be able to share that data not only with the same type [of car] or a particular manufacturer, but [with] all autonomous vehicles regardless of who made it?”