The cost of living in the smart cities of tomorrow

Your alarm clock sounds from its place on your nightstand. A familiar voice bids you hello, describes the current weather and your daily schedule. It sends an alert to your shower to turn on the water, and it also warms the toilet seat. You walk into the bathroom, brush your teeth, sit down on your — now warm — toilet and do your early business. Then, you climb into your shower, water already nice and hot for you, have a good wash and climb out to dry off.

After, you get dressed and get ready to start your day. By the time you reach your kitchen, coffee is already brewing and your breakfast is already heated. You grab your portion, along with a cup of joe, and sit down to eat. When you’re done, you pack your things and head off to work.

You climb behind the wheel of your vehicle ready for the morning commute only there is no steering wheel. The car starts on its own, backs out of your driveway on its own and drives down the road, again, on its own.

Along the way you are treated to regular traffic updates, information about world and local news, and more details about your daily schedule. Your voice assistant is designed to follow you all the way through your day, from sunup to sundown.

Behind every smart device and smart feature is a waterfall of data that is being collected, sent and processed to remote servers.

Welcome to the future a smart future. This is exactly what the smart homes and smart cities of tomorrow are going to look like, and so much more.

Aside from the modern conveniences offered by such technologies, there are some rather sinister things going on behind the scenes. The idea of pervasive technology that tracks and monitors your every move will no longer be just a concept. Instead, it will be necessary to facilitate the kind of smart and personalized experiences that future homes and smart cities will offer.

The obvious change is that smart cities and smart technologies will make our lives a whole lot easier. What are some things changing you might not initially be aware of?

The Emergence of a Data-Fueled Society

For starters, anything and everything will soon become powered almost entirely by data. Take self-driving cars, for instance. The computer or main control system will be run by AI and machine learning platforms, designed to phone home to a remote server. While on the roadways, the vehicle will collect a variety of situational and contextual data using onboard sensors. This information will then be sent to the main system, be analyzed and processed, and then returned in a more readable form.

The computer will know that a pedestrian walking across the road is different from a rolling plastic bag or piece of debris. This will allow it to discern whether it’s necessary to slow down or come to an emergency stop. All of this will be controlled almost entirely by continuous, real-time data.

Imagine a vehicle that can park itself, using environmental data, or a utility line that can output the perfect amount of resources, thanks to a more efficient supply system? It could help us conserve natural resources like gas or fuel.

Ever run out of propane for your grill or temperature control system? This is something you have to manually monitor, which requires knowing how to do so. However, soon enough, smart technologies will be able to handle this process for us. A smart meter might tell you how much propane is left, or how many more uses you can get out of your supply. When the gas runs out, it can order more and have it shipped directly to your home from a local business. It’s amazing how convenient such automation can be, and it will alter our lives for the better.

Data will also impact the way we engage with the world around us, by altering how we shop, live and even travel. It can determine the ideal travel routes on the ground and facilitate better travel in the air. It can also provide more personalized product recommendations for online shopping, through services such as Amazon.

Imagine this futuristic scenario. You wake up in the morning before work and realize you’ve used up the last of your milk and eggs. The refrigerator registers this information and sends a notification to your smart home assistant to order more. That order goes out through communication channels to the appropriate store, which then sends you a resupply. By the time you get home, your eggs and milk are already waiting for you.

This is exactly the kind of scenario that will shape our future, both inside and outside our homes. Smart cities and urban environments will be much more complex and active, because the systems are closer to together — and so are the parties involved. Smart homes, smart apartments, smart businesses and general structures will all be used to connect and sync up the smart cities of the future.

It will resemble an interconnected network of dwelling, structures and environmental beacons that is ultimately designed to track and monitor everything going on around them. While it’s definitely a scary concept, it will also make for some extremely interesting and innovative uses.

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About the author

— Nathan Sykes

Nathan is a technology and business writer interested in the impacts of new technologies on enterprise and society. Check out his blog to stay up to date with his latest articles.

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