What will cities look like in the future? With the birth of Machine Learning, explosion in Artificial Intelligence and our increasingly Tech-Centric culture, they may look much different than most people expect. And the process of planning them will as well. But one things for sure – they will be smarter.

smart cities, smart cityAs a licensed Landscape Architect working in the Tech industry, I see great untapped potential to adapt innovative technologies to empower landscape architects, architects, civil engineers and city/regional planners. And as these professions become increasingly involved in the Smart Cities process, they would be wise to begin educating themselves about the emerging technologies companies such as Cisco are developing.

So to prepare my fellow designers for their unexpected future creating more sustainable environments, I offer up my top 5 predictions on the future of planning SmartCities:

By 2020: Use of a single city wide digital platform to unify all operations, data aggregation/analytics, and actions across agencies will become popular. This will pull data from all city sensors, cameras, end points, databases, etc. and then aggregate that data into a single source, all in real-time. This data will then be pushed back out for immediate use by city leaders, agencies, businesses (including design firms), universities and even citizens to take immediate actions that result in better outcomes for all. Cisco is already pioneering this concept with its Smart+Connected Communities Digital Platform which provides a great foundation for your Smart City solutions. Plus there will be some very exciting news about that platform coming very soon.

By 2025: As Smart Cities become the rule rather than the exception, local governments will have to adapt their planning methodologies. This will result in the inclusion of language into municipal building codes and Unified Development Ordinances requiring and regulating types, uses and even quantities of digital technologies for buildings, land development and roads. This will initially reveal itself through minimum requirements for sensors, WiFi and other network infrastructure.

smartcities, smart city, smart cities, AI, big data, urban planningBy 2030: The use of artificial intelligence in design studios and government planning departments will include the presence of fully mobile androids who will serve as liaisons between technology and humans. They will also serve as base creatives, providing feedback on designs and serving as catalysts to spur new approaches. They will also be given authority as final arbitrators on planning issues that are often biased by human preconceptions.

By 2035: The responsibilities of engineers, architects, landscape architects and other planning professionals will shift significantly as self-aware technologies increase their role in design and planning. This will allow the various design professions to become so efficient that they will be able to merge into a single unified profession. This evolution will also empower the human workforce to engage in more high-level decision making and free them to be more creative in general, spurring a renaissance in planning as well as a much happier workforce.

smart cities, smart city, nyc, sustainability, time lapse, ciscoBy 2040: We will be able to create a living, breathing manifestation of a city – an entity endowed with its own self-awareness, across all agencies, assets and communities to make decisions for the common good, better and faster than humans ever could. These self-realized cities will begin collaborating with each other, ultimately planning new communities on their own and building them using automated tools and large scale 3D printers.

Will these predictions come true? The years may be off, but in time, yes. It is a fascinating view from which I find myself these days; immersed within the rising framework of future cities but somewhat subdued by their potential because I feel the environmental design professions are not yet being fully utilized in the process. But this is just momentary. For in the end, the Smart City itself will become designer and builder – the sole-source originator of community.

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LinkedIn: Kenn Dodson, RLA/SME

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