Just 65 km southwest of Seoul in South Korea, on 1,500 acres of reclaimed land, the new “smart city” of Songdu is taking shape. The international business district will feature, schools, hospitals and offices plus leisure and cultural facilities. The 10 year project will cost in excess of $40 billion. It is allegedly one of the most expensive development projects ever undertaken. It is also one of the “smartest” and the “greenest”.
80,000 apartments, 5 million square metres of office space and one million square metres of retail space, will deliver the lightest carbon footprint. All major buildings would be on par with or beyond LEED requirements. 40% of surface area would be reserved for green space.
Bicycle lanes, electric car charge points and self drive cars will limit inner city pollution. A hi-tech waste collection system will improve the performance of the carbon emissions challenge. The Songdu rubbish collection system, based on suction pipes, guarantees trash flows from buildings to processing plants, without the need for garbage trucks and rubbish bins.
Computers installed in all buildings will enhance the connectivity of ICT, Information, Communications Technology with IoT, the Internet of Things. Residents can video conference with neighbours and attend events, conferences or study lessons on line.
Lighting, heating, air conditioning and more can be controlled by digital devices. Real time data will be made available of energy and utility usage.
In the age of the Internet of Things, the pot will call the kettle back on wifi as the fridge replenishes key items from auto order and home delivery by drone.
In Songdu, water filter systems will ensure prime quality drinking water is not used to “flush the toilet”. Vertical farms will provide fresh food from urban “farm sky scrapers”. Delivery drones will provide home delivery. Living street lights in the form of trees and bushes will enhance urban architecture.
In transport, intelligent digital communication installations, will provide real time data on public transport arrivals and departures and of course delays. Auto parking facilities will ensure, car owners are notified of available parking in and around the city.
Co-ordinated transport networks, with universal contactless of mobile payment systems will simplify the process of commuter progress to, from and within the city.
Not just in Korea are the changes being made. Travel around Helsinki in 2016, the city's new Mobility-as-a-Service initiative will allow commuters to buy a "mobility" ticket via text message or app. The service will plan the ideal route from starting point to destination, combining public transport, on-demand services and private vehicles.
In Zaragoza, Spain, a "citizen card" will provide access to the free city-wide Wi-Fi network, unlock a bike share, check a book out of the library and pay for the bus ride home.
In Songdu, the smart city is starting from scratch. It is a huge advantage. “From an infrastructure perspective, we could lay the very latest connectivity technology into the ground before construction," says Tom Murcott of real estate developer Gale International,.
Gale International is building the Songdo International Business District, partnering with Cisco. Gale will provide the internet-of-things backbone for Songdo's buildings. "This will allow the occupants to control their air conditioning, their televisions, their music even their elevators" Murcott says.
"Cisco has built an high definition tele presence system installed in 14,000 residential units. Residents are able to interact with city administrators, shopkeepers, socialcare and healthcare workers."
Interactive video networking with first line health care can lead to better monitoring of first response screening, patient monitoring, medical pill dispensation and much more.
In transport, distribution, energy consumption, health care and so much more, the yield from the Smart City challenge will be tremendous. The opportunities afforded by digital disruption can only improve the yield.
By 2050 it is estimated that 75% of the world's population will live in cities, putting pressure on transport networks, emergency services and utilities already stretched to capacity.
It may be easy for a clean start project to establish the basic infrastructure as the first foundations of the city are formed. Certain challenges of progress remain nevertheless.
“Birds Korea” called for a halt to the Songdu reclamation project due to the loss if important tidal flats, supporting threatened waterbird species and providing a staging ground for migratory waders.
Fears for data privacy will be overtaken by lifestyle privacy. Smart cities need smart networks into which everything and every one is hooked. What if the smart city system is hacked and or falls into the wrong hands? The FBI already advise computer owners to cover the smart camera for fears of hacking and home intrusion.
In Manchester, great things are expected from the CityVerve challenge. In December last year Manchester was chosen as the winner of a £10m Government-led technology competition to build and deliver a smarter, more connected Manchester.
The plan - to create a city that uses technology to meet the complex needs of our people. CityVerve brings together the brightest minds and pioneering use of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to redefine ‘smart’ in the context of a living, working city.
“Imagine a Manchester of endless possibilities from new business and jobs to better healthcare and transport; safer streets; and more engaged and empowered citizens. We’re teaming this incredible expertise with cutting edge technology; engineered and delivered by the greatest minds from across the globe.”
And this isn’t just a reality for Manchester; CityVerve aims to create a blueprint for smart cities worldwide. The ambition is huge.
Join us in March at the pro-manchester business conference. We consider the outcome of digital disruption and the smart city challenge. We look at the opportunities for Manchester and the opportunities outlined by the CityVerve project. This will be the tenth in the pro-manchester conference series over the last seven years. We think it will be our biggest and best yet.