23116_FOC _Smart Cities_Report_


It’s strange to think back to a time when ‘smart’ wasn’t applied ubiquitously. Over the past 20 years, our cities have beenpart of this evolution albeit at a slower rate of change to business, community and public consciousness. As technology increased its influence on the way we live, work and play, through automation and virtualisation, cities became a platform on top of which to build these advances. In the UK, where most cities have existed for centuries, there has inevitably been the challenges of limited available space as well as the added cost and bureaucracy of retrofitting infrastructure, compared with some of the radical city genesis projects of the 2030s that we’ve seen across Asia. However, for new urban quarters and comprehensive regeneration projects, smart technology has been an integral part of the design.

The focus of ‘smart’ is now on sustainability, wellness and efficiency – as well as removing friction from people’s lives. As cities densified, infrastructure has had to evolve to support the more complex needs of their inhabitants. Integrated smart grids monitor both public and personal urban life, supporting an intelligent energy system that predicts and preserves electricity, (district) heating, telecom, water and energy storage. Mobility and transport are increasingly clean and effective, supported by an automated network of shared personal transporters, shared last mile modes and an overall increase in capacity of pre-existing transport infrastructure. The introduction of intelligent infrastructure has suffered from the challenges of cost, multiple ownership and a lack of political foresight as governments have come and gone over the past two decades. The most positive impacts of smart technologies are found where local political will and stakeholder coordination has enabled the delivery of this infrastructure. Smart building evolution, on the other hand, has been more autonomously determined, and hence become the predominant force of change in our cities. We’ve seen advances in zero-energy design, building services (heating, ventilation, cooling and lighting) and monitoring systems which both optimise building operations and reduce their impact on the environment.



Cushman & Wakefiled | Future of Cities |

Where are we starting to see this?

The evolution of smart cities has created a new breed of power players, both public and private. Government bodies now have larger powers to implement infrastructure upgrades. At the same time, individuals and corporates have become major city stakeholders due to pioneering intelligence solutions that have solved problems such as energy, waste and transport management which has helped us combat climate change. In some areas of the UK there is a distinct ‘tidemark’ between those areas which are smart enabled from the streets up, and those that aren’t. Large scale public-private regeneration projects provide some of the showcase examples of success and enable exciting ways of connecting and living in the city. Meanwhile, in sharp contrast,the ex-urbs are still largely running on infrastructure from the late 20th century, and everything feelsa lot slower. This has not been helped by planning permission laws or the lack of financial viability for upgrading these areas. Takeaways » Smart infrastructure has the greatest success when built as new towns or large urban quarters. » Cost and bureaucracy of upgrading city infrastructure has been the largest barrier to their evolution. » Smart city innovation prioritises sustainability, wellness and efficiency – and removes friction from day-to-day life. » Smart buildings have been more deliverable, but the biggest successes come from the implementation of smart infrastructure. » The evolution of smart cities has led to a new generation of R&D political powerhouses. » There are distinct tide-marks between smart enabled areas and the rest.

Japan’s ‘Woven City’

Toyota is building Japan’s first smart city, covering the 70-hectare former Toyota factory site near Mount Fuji. The Woven City aspires to be a ‘living laboratory’ for testing autonomous vehicles, personal mobility, robots, smart homes and AI in a real-world environment. There will be three distinct pathways – one for automated mobility, another for pedestrians and another for both pedestrians and personal mobility. Buildings will be made mostly of wood and have sensor-based AI installed to check occupants’ health. Power will be supplied from solar energy and fuel cells, which derive power from a hydrogen-oxygen reaction. The Woven City will be an example of urban design that prioritises wellness, sustainability and efficiency.



Cushman & Wakefiled | Future of Cities |

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