Future Cities Digest #18 (27/03/2014)

by Lukasz Alwast

#predictions #futures #TED #Google

Last week passed in tech-world along the lines of the 30th anniversary of TED conferences. On this occasion many of the celebrity-guests where asked a question what will blow your mind in 30 years time? Many of the answers referred to advances in medicine & health-care (ie convergence of technology with the body), ubiquitous integration of ‘the virtual’ with ‘the real’, a new degree of human computer-interaction and machine consciousness. An interesting conversation took place on the stage between Charlie Rose and Larry Page. The two spoke about the vision and future of the Internet, privacy, and Google. Page’s main point was that ‘computing is still kind of a mess’ and there is much more than can be done to understand information which at the moment is still ‘very clunky’. Page also highlighted his excitement with the acquisition of DeepMind and his belief in using machine learning research to improve data interpretation accuracy. You can watch the full interview here.

#cities #case #studies #WorldBank

In one of its recent blog posts the World Bank Urban Development team have announced that they are working on a Competitive Cities Knowledge Base (CCKB). Under the label of ‘Competitive Cities’ they’re looking in more depth at ‘cities that significantly outperform their national economies and regional competitors’. The project is said to include case studies of successful cities across all continents, including Bucaramanga (Colombia), Patna (India), Bandung (Indonesia), Agadir (Morocco), Kigali (Rwanda) and Izmir (Turkey). The interesting aspect to this study is that it targets predominantly medium-sized and secondary cities, less explored than the “global cities” the literature focuses on – eg cities in high-income economies that have successfully reinvented themselves (Barcelona or Boston), global technological leaders (Silicon Valley or Austin), or hotspots whose growth is based on unique endowments that are difficult to replicate (Singapore). Full blog post available here.

 #gardening #commute #wellbeing #Japan

We’ve seen in the recent times a number of ideas that work around the issues of enabling commuters to ‘get more done’ during their usual journeys. Amazon has explored the idea of delivering packages to transit spots and Tesco tried to implement virtual supermarkets  on train platforms in South Korea.  Also in Asia, this time Japan, an idea emerged to allow commuters to garden on top of roof gardens at train stations along, or before/after their commute.  This initiative is seen as an opportunity to participate in owning a small garden, an obviously scarce recourse in the world’s most populated cities. The project was initiated by East Japan Rail Company who provided seeds, garden tools and gardening advice to commuters. The gardens are in parallel being used as places where people come to relax, have picnics and meet new people.

#ageing #alzheimer’s #Abilia #Norway

Alzheimer’s is considered as one of the big longevity diseases of our times. With the increase of life expectancy and the growth of the ageing population, the market recognizes the need for new ideas that’ll empower older citizens and reduce the strain on health facilities and governments. For that reason a system called Abilia is currently prototyped in Norway to help Alzheimer’s patients live independently at home. Abilia uses sensors throughout the house to monitor the patient’s engagement with objects, such as – closed/open doors, switched on/off stove , or suspicious motion, and alerts the patients and care workers of any danger. The system is controlled on a central memo planning monitor that displays day to day tasks, giving them a sense of clarity about the time and structure of their day.

Recent reports and publications:

  •  The future of public health: a horizon scan – RAND, Dec 2013
    (highlights: future of public health and related scientific services, literature review and insights from key informants, cross cutting themes and findings)
  • Mapping Smart Cities in the EU – European Parliament, Jan 2014
    (highlights: classification and typology of ‘smart cities’ in Europe, Smart Cities technology roadmap [in the EU], 20 case studies)

Spirit of times:
Appearing by telepresence robot, Edward Snowden speaks at TED2014 about surveillance and Internet freedom. Chris Anderson interviewshim with special guest Tim Berners-Lee – you can watch Snowdens talk hereandthe NSA’s deputy director reply (also as a TED Talk). On the picture Sergey Brin (Google) and Edward Snowden (physically in Russia), during the break.