Sensors, smartphones, connected objects… In the digital revolution, cities and their inhabitants produce a growing mass of data. A huge potential to deeply transform our cities, and the way we live in them. SUEZ invited two renowned experts to voice their opinions on this subject: Carlos Moreno, an expert in smart cities, and Tom Schenk Jr., City of Chicago Chief Data Officer. Their predictions and feedback on changing cities.
© Sylvain Leurent
City life has been turned on its head by the convergence of urbanisation and hyper-connectivity.
Areas of life where a multitude of societal needs and usages come together, and where no component can escape this transformation. Our homes, the environment, education, culture, transport, healthcare, safety, energy, water, waste, etc., but also governance and our lives as citizens, have all been affected by this dual revolution in usages and digital technology.
Smart devices, geolocalisation, the Internet of things and the presence of people who are connected when on the move, have all created a powerful network. For the first time ever, our physical world has become a real-time producer of data. The production of data is ubiquitous, or in other words, massive, decentralised and largely autonomous. This ubiquity has significantly changed our models of usages, of services and our economic models, in a world that has become urban.
Data is now in the centre: a key resource that is accessible to all. The emergence of open data programming for all has allowed non-specialists to devise new usages. Urban life has catalysed new paradigms by anticipating and understanding the interactions between the systems that make up our cities, in order to compare data and to apply it to the design of new usages that make the lives of urban dwellers easier.
This change has heralded new experiences, thanks to unprecedented usages and services: multi-modal mobility, decentralised energy, energy-efficient housing, personalised public healthcare, online education on a massive scale, participatory democracy, open governance, collaborative information systems, plus new models of sociability based on the collaborative economy. The rise of an approach based on usage rather than ownership, goes hand in hand with the power of digital technology and big data that speed up social and urban transformations. But paradoxically, the true power of data and its real value in the 21st century do not lie in its production, but in the capacity it provides to transcend objects and systems, so that we can look into their interactions and their interdependencies.
In order to understand the reality of the phenomena in our everyday urban lives, from urban mobility to energy supplies, flow management, the impacts of climate change and many other situations, it is essential to understand the links between the different entities.
All the major disruptive success stories, such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, Amazon and Ali Baba, are rooted in their capacity to harness data for usages that are social, simple and accessible, through hybrid platforms delivering the services that transform our lives and our cities. Today, the hybridisation of objects with data and social usages through platforms is at the heart of the revolution in the use we make of digital technology.
Smart cities expert
Find the full article in the second issue of open_resource magazine: “Shaping resourceful cities”
Discover the point of view of Tom Schenk Jr., City of Chicago Chief Data Officer.