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With good recycling, telemedicine and with out site visitors: that is how the cities of the long run shall be

9, 2021

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This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors can occur because of this process.

This story originally appeared on The Conversation

By Ignacio Matías Maestro, Navarre Public University

A smart city is a city that integrates society with its government and uses intelligent systems to identify needs and, if possible, generate solutions in real time. Smart cities use technology to be more sustainable and improve people's quality of life and wellbeing.

There are many factors that make a city smart. For example, that it has energy-saving systems that enable intelligent consumption, recycling, waste reduction or gas emissions; that it is committed to telemedicine or telecare or that it has efficient traffic management, the optimization of public transport routes and sustainable infrastructures.

A look into the future

It is very difficult to predict what the technology will look like in 50 years. What has developed in the last half century is infinite compared to what we will move forward in the next 50 years if there aren't many setbacks.

We have never had so many opportunities for growth as we do now: we have so many that we don't know where we're going. For man, today's life is a gift and it will be spectacular. In 30 years we will look back and everything will seem very strange to us. I don't know what smart cities will look like in the future, but I do know that the cities of the future will be smart and even cognitive.

We know that in the future we will live in cities because this is the only way to preserve the rest of nature because if we spread out over the entire area we will kill what is within our reach. In 2050, 85% of the world's population will live in cities, mainly because people live in cities and we need to live together to move forward. And also because we have to free the rest of nature from human pressure. Everyone has to have their place.

Traffic will change so much that it is very likely that private cars will no longer be able to run in the city centers and public transport is the only thing that exists. Once we have the traffic and traffic lights in the city under control, everything becomes much easier and more automated. There will be no traffic jams or, if they exist, they can be resolved more efficiently than before. On the other hand, we don't know if there will be flying vehicles or not, but it is certain that we will have autonomous vehicles, and if they are driving alone it is very likely that they can fly.

It is also clear that we have to try to go into space, because here we no longer fit and we are collapsing planet earth. On the other hand, we know that there will be millions of connected objects in the world. Around 200 million sensors are currently connected, and there could be a billion in 2025 alone. There will be a lot of sensors, a lot of data, a lot of technology.

The role of data and its control

The data is essential for good city management. Therefore, sensors are essential to get information, traffic light data, the number of people on the street, pollution, etc. The Internet of Things is currently the only way to anticipate and solve urban problems. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and technologies such as digital twins, edge computing or fog computing will play an essential role in this.

In the 21st century, data is the raw material and whoever controls it will have a lot of power. But technology isn't the problem, it's the solution. The real problem is the social question.

Who can control the data we generate ourselves? This can be a city, a state or a company. If a company knows how to behave, it can try to sell its products to us. If it is a city or state that controls us, the situation is even worse because they can instruct us to make us think in concrete ways. In this regard, the European Union has already taken steps to ensure that the data is ours, but I cannot quite believe it. Currently, we are already transferring our information when we use an application.

Society moves forward when it has freedom, but when we cannot preserve it and there is a superior intelligence that controls our freedoms, we will be able to adapt and behave like "sheep".

If the data is not ours, it limits our freedom. So when we build a smart city we have to try to make it a smart city with a soul and not a shopping mall type city.

Smarter and more humane cities

A smart city that has been created from scratch is lacking in soul. A smart city has to strengthen its identity, think of the people who inhabit it, be alive and constantly adapt. In my opinion, it is much more important to make existing cities smarter and to make them smart from their respective point of view: that is, they have their own history and intelligence, like the people, and develop the aspects that each city individually wants to increase .

There are examples of smart cities built from scratch, like Songdo in South Korea, but a lot of people don't want to live in them, maybe because they're scared of living in a city with so much technology. Maybe they prefer to live in a less intelligent city, but more human.

Overview of Songdo (South Korea) Wikimedia Commons

In some cities in China, they already control who takes to the streets: they always know who you are. If there is evidence of a crime or a robbery, they can recognize it immediately and identify the perpetrator, which in turn creates fear. Security is very important and a lot of progress can be made with artificial intelligence, sensors and cameras, but we must always keep an eye on the limit of freedom.

We have to make our cities smarter and more technological, yes, but also more humane.

This article was originally published as an interview on the UPNA Science Translator Blog. The conversation

This article was republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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