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Transforming City Living Through Sustainable Technology

By John Pendergast Commercial Director at Rockend

For the first time in history, more than 50 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2030, this number is expected to grow to 60 per cent. And by 2050, it’s predicted that cities across the globe will be bursting at the seams, housing almost 70 per cent of people on the planet.

There’s little doubt that urbanisation is the megatrend that will shape how we live in the future. It has created an urgent need for greater investment and innovation. Growing urban populations, along with our ever-increasing expectations of a higher quality of life, are placing heavy demands on both infrastructure and the environment. Our cities need functioning traffic systems, intelligent logistics, efficient energy supplies and environmentally compatible buildings in order to meet the challenges posed by urbanisation.

So what will our future cities be like and what role will technology play in creating a more sustainable way of living?


High-rise buildings will be like small towns, with homes, shops, services and gardens all coming together under one roof. We’re already seeing multi-purpose buildings springing up in major metropolitan areas, conveniently combining everything we need for both work and play within a single hub and within easy reach.

The future will see the spaces around us become increasingly flexible, changing to match our needs. Instead of owning things, we’ll pay to use a space or an item and then give it back, pass it on or recycle it. We’ll share electric cars with other residents living in our building, rent space in community gardens and contribute to a variety of services for the benefit of both ourselves and our neighbours.

Technology and fluidity will allow us to live efficient lives. More and more people will work from home, switching quickly and easily between business and leisure, the real and the virtual.


As we face the challenges of rising power consumption, higher energy prices and resource shortages, the demand for networked smart buildings is growing. Buildings account for the bulk of a city’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

And as worldwide efforts aimed at cutting energy consumption and lowering CO2 emissions gain in importance, emphasis will be placed on the efficient use of energy in our cities’ buildings.

In the future, buildings will be selfsufficient. They will produce a surplus of energy, recycle their own waste, minimise water usage, collect rainwater, and reuse and recycle grey water. Buildings will also be fully automated and intelligent, with thousands of sensors making sure that lights are switched on or off, and rooms are optimally cooled or heated only when they’re occupied. By optimising buildings, the costs of operation and energy usage can be reduced along with CO2 emissions.

And as residents, we’ll be energy producers as well as energy consumers. Renewable energy will become the lifeblood of urban living. We will all generate energy and store it for later use – to charge our electric cars, light our homes or feed back into the grid.


Our cities today are drowning in traffic,but in the future, our journeys will see us moving effortlessly from one mode of transport to another.

From booking a shared car to using public transport, our journeys will be seamless. Sensors throughout the city will provide real-time information that will be integrated and visualised by the city’s control centre. Traffic lights and information systems will be adapted so traffic flows smoothly. A navigation assistant will plan our travel route. If there’s a traffic accident, road construction or public transport delay, the navigation assistant will instantly respond by changing the route.

And while we sleep, the city will use the public transport system to restock, recharge and recycle. Public transport will be used to deliver goods and packages. Tasks that can be done overnight will be automatically activated. Our future transport system will never sleep.


The future will see our cities become living organisms seeing, hearing and thinking. Our cities will be intelligent and responsive. The data collected will be used for urban planning, and residents will be invited to take an active part in the planning process and help decide the future of their communities.

Cities are at the core of global development. They are where our future will take shape, where economic growth springs from the bustling activities of more than half the world’s population and where our most pressing environmental challenges are most evident.

And harnessing the power of technology is the key to helping our cities become more livable, more competitive and more sustainable.



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