Smarter cities, better quality of life for everyone

The invention of cities is the greatest feat of technology in human history. Since its inception, in   Uruk  , 6,000 years ago, the best in philosophy, the arts, techniques and science have converged in cities. Its legacy is the invention of political democracy (the word comes from the Greek    polis   , which means ‘city’), or even more deeply from civilization itself (from the Latin civitas, also “city”). A German saying from the Middle Ages, spread around the 11th century, stated that only in cities “it is possible to breathe the air of freedom.” Civilization, citizenship, politics, urbanity, courtesy are today our best way of expressing the idea that it is possible to live together and in mutual respect.

Cities are the epicenter of technological innovation, and in recent years a new revolution is being prepared that will make them even more efficient and dynamic. Policymakers, universities around the world, and the most skilled staff are committed to creating a new generation of management equipment and concepts that promise to transform the experience of living in urban areas. The concept of “  smart cities  ” is advancing dramatically, and by the end of this decade will have reinvented everything we know about quality of life.

One of the key steps in this new reality is the 5G bandwidth connection, which is already available on a trial basis in the United States and   South Korea  , due to arrive in Brazil by next year. This will make it possible to manage energy use, health services, safety, consumption and material disposal much more efficiently. In addition, there is a wealth of information available in real time, such as air quality, rainfall, which will help in planning and minimizing climate disruption.

One of the biggest nightmares of city dwellers, traffic, will be tackled on many fronts. The first, and perhaps the main, is that more efficient connections that improve communication and simulate physical environments will lessen the need for commuting to work or teaching and learning, for example. But anyway, whatever is the flow needed, there will be instant car rental networks, rearrangement of public transport networks, intelligent traffic lights and – a little later on – self-driving vehicles.

In Latin America there are already 77% of people living in cities, slightly below North America, with 80%, but already above Europe, with 72% and Oceania, with 70%. Asia with 40% and Africa with 38% still have a long way to go, (which is happening very fast). Today, the most urbanized country in the world is Belgium, with 97%, while in Rwanda this index drops to 17%. Of course, historical reasons explain the multifactorial discrepancy between the quality of life in these places, but the numbers help give the dimension that cities represent – and will continue to represent for a long time – more solutions than problems. Especially with the massive deployment of technologies that help manage them, as we will watch spectacularly in the coming years.