Guest blog: Smarter Living-What do our future towns & cities look like

Over the years, our work and personal lives are becoming increasingly dependent on technology. There are now more mobile connections worldwide than there are people in the world (GSMA real-time intelligence) and we are starting to rely on our tech to assist us with every-day tasks such as navigating to places, setting reminders, shopping and even answering the front door. Earlier on this year I bought my first home voice assistant and I have noticed my home is slowing becoming techier. I am not at the stage yet where I have smart appliances; however, it is the direction we are going in as we shift into the automation age. This is also the case for the places we live in, as citizens become more connected to the places they live in with technology.

I have recently been involved in a project looking at smart cities, and it is really exciting to see the different concepts of what the cities of the future might look like. My first insight into smart cities was smart parking. In many places, parking can be a complete nightmare, and if you do not have change for the parking meter then forget it! Imagine however if you could use an app on your phone to find parking nearby your destination, book that parking space and then get billed automatically through an app. By using image recognition and mobile technologies, this is a real possibility. The next insight I got into smart cities was smart lighting. This works by sensors picking up when someone is nearby a streetlight and automatically turns them on for a set period of time, reducing the need to have them on all the time, and making it safer for people at night if they are walking in areas that turn off streetlights during certain hours.

Medical services are something incredibly important to people. Recently I came across the concept of an online doctors’ service, which allows patients to book appointments online and see a doctor the same day via a video conference which is great for people who work, but may struggle to get time off for appointments, to or are unable to get out the house. Extending this further there is also now the ability for citizens to interact with a chatbot for medical advice if they don’t want to make an appointment quite yet. For example, those struggling with mental health may not feel comfortable talking to an actual person, and may feel more at ease using a chatbot for support and advice.

Sticking to the concepts of chatbots, another great use case I have seen for these, is engaging with local councils to book appointments, get FAQs, or report things like fly tipping, which can often be difficult where councils are only open for limited working hours, so this improves accessibility.

It is really exciting to see how our lives and the places we work and live are becoming smarter and more automated thanks to technology. There is a huge amount of scope for the smart cities of the future and what these could look like, I have covered just a few of the possibilities but there are also many more which can make the places we live safer and more appealing.

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