Director of Ecovivid, advising on smart sustainability
Peter Madden, OBE, is a sustainability, innovation, and smart cities expert. He is Director of ecovivid.com - a company advising on smart sustainability in the built environment and sits on the Board of the Crown Estate.
Previously he was CEO of Future Cities Catapult - a centre of expertise on urban innovation and CEO of Forum for the Future - a sustainability non-profit.
This widespread uptake of autonomous vehicles will re-shape our cities further. With seamless, and instant, on-demand autonomous vehicles, why own a car? Why pay for parking? Why devote so much precious urban real-estate to inanimate metal objects? An MIT study estimated that Singapore could reduce the number or vehicles by two-thirds with full automation.
Over the past year, cities across the world have been buffeted by natural events. Floods ravaged the residents of Mumbai; and tropical storm Harvey left Houston underwater. Cape Town had its worst drought in over a century; and Shanghai, the world's most populous city, experienced its hottest day in recorded history.
Digital technologies will shape how city administrations interact with citizens, how they deliver services, and how they enable new companies to grow. City leaders I talk to know that this digital future is upon us. But most are still not investing enough in the people and facilities they need to harness these technologies.
In many ways the planning system has done a good job: trying to balance competing demands for scarce resources and mediating between economic forces and the views of local communities. And, over the years, it has proved remarkably resilient.
In January this year, the government launched a consultation on its new Industrial Strategy. This envisages our economic future as one backed by science and based on cutting-edge innovation, aims to build on excellence and also to spread growth across the UK through more focus on 'place'.
In the UK, we have largely built our towns and cities, so a better question might be: 'How could we enhance our cities by overlaying a digital layer?' This layer, spread over the physical, helps us to understand our cities better and create services that allow citizens to interact with the city - and each other - differently.
What does this year hold for the urban innovation agenda in the UK? Like many others, I completely failed to predict the Brexit vote or the Trump Presidency. But I'm having another go at the crystal ball gazing this year because I still think it's useful to speculate about - and prepare for - the future. So, here are my five predictions for UK cities in 2017.
As the work begins and the dust starts to settle on this year's Autumn Statement, I think we can see it as a real shot in the arm for infrastructure, R&D and innovation. These measures should see a real return in terms of productivity and growth. They should, too, help the UK keep up in telecomms developments. And they present a great opportunity to push even harder on urban innovation, so our companies can continue to develop and sell world-beating products and services that help cities thrive.
For urban innovation, there is an opportunity for cities, companies and institutions to engage in new ways on this global stage, and to do even better in developing the products and services for the markets of tomorrow.
Crowdfunding is a natural solution to a very real problem. Citizens are often keen to shape their local surroundings, but the process can feel incredibly daunting, not least because it can be difficult to obtain funding, be it private or public.
Much progress can be made by making existing utilities infrastructure more efficient, making better use of what it can already provide, accurately forecasting future usage, and ensuring that it's maintained intelligently.
21/07/2016 15:05 BST
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