1. Digitally Re-Programmable Space
Cities have started to look at reprogramming and redefining their space to get more from less: Vancouver has reduced its allowable urban footprint; Glasgow has moved from a policy of expansion to concentration; New York has been incrementally repurposing asphalt to expand footpaths and open space; and Melbourne has repurposed 86 hectares of underutilized road and other spaces in the last 30 years and aligned new medium to high density residential development around its rail stations and road-based public transport networks.
2. Waternet: An Internet of Pipes
Smart water management models use sensors in network pipes to monitor flow and manage the entire water cycle, providing sustainable water for human and ecological needs. Companies such as TaKaDu, based in Israel, are creating cloud-based solutions to connect water pipes to the Internet of Things, enabling a proactive approach to flood control and rainwater collection, and the identification of weak points or blockages in the network before major damage occurs.
3. Adopt a Tree through Your Social Network
Melbourne encourages citizens to take pride in urban greenery through its Urban Forest Strategy, consisting of over 70,000 trees. All trees are tagged on a central
database: citizens can adopt a tree, name it, track its growth and carbon offset and share this data through their social networks. Each tree has its own email address which allows citizens to report defects and diseases and even send love letters.
4. Augmented Humans: The Next Generation of Mobility
Improved safety for pedestrians and non-motorized transportation leads to greater adoption of public transport, reduced congestion and pollution, better health and
commutes that are quicker (bicycles are, on average, 40% faster during peak hours), more predictable and less expensive. Small investments to encourage cycling can
have a large payout, as high as 35:1 according to a recent UK government study1
. Such relatively low-cost solutions include separate bike lanes, bike-sharing schemes, rephasing traffic lights to fit the speed of bikes and planting trees along the side of roads to slow traffic.
5.Co-generating, Co-heating, Co-cooling
In conventional power plants, electricity generation produces wasted heat. “Cogeneration” mechanical systems capture and use the excess heat, significantly improving energy efficiency. Specifically, “trigeneration” systems use the heat either to heat buildings or to cool them, through absorption refrigerator technology – for example, cooling office complexes that house large numbers of computers. Trigeneration is making inroads into Scandinavia, southern Europe, South Korea and Japan.
6. The Sharing City: Unleashing Spare Capacity
Websites such as Airbnb make it easier for unused space to be rented out, reducing the amount of wasted capacity in terms of houses standing empty. Likewise, many city
residents are reducing wasted capacity in commutes by using websites to carpool, or even ditching car ownership altogether in favour of web-facilitated car sharing clubs,
which now exist in cities around the globe. Websites such as Streetbank make it easier for city residents to share other products, or pass them on when they are no longer being used.
Digital information and communication technologies could help manage vehicular traffic more efficiently. Realtime information allows unprecedented monitoring of
urban mobility infrastructure, and opens up new potential for the exploitation of unused vehicle capacity through dynamic optimization algorithms. One example is the “mass transport vehicle routing” algorithm developed by researchers at Irvine University in California to route vehicles in real time, meeting demand for picking up and delivering passengers in fast-varying environments.
8. Medellin Revisited: Infrastructure for Social Integration
Projects such as the España Library Park and the city’s elevated cable car as a mode of public transportation have been presented as the key symbols of a process that
has led to the city’s spatial, social, economic and cultural transformation – connecting the city’s low-income residents and communities with its wealthier commercial centre. As a result, Medellín has changed in the past 10 years, not just in its spatial dynamics but also in the mentality and perception of its inhabitants who now see culture as an important tool for development. This particular approach to urbanism has caught the attention of experts who have now come to see Medellín as an exemplar model in urban planning and governance.
9. Smart Array: Intelligent Street Poles as a Platform for Urban Sensing
Next-generation LED street lights can act as a platform for a host of sensing technologies that collect data on weather, pollution, seismic activity, the movement of traffic and people, and noise and air pollution. By linking these intelligent street poles into a network, it is possible to sense what is going on across a city in real time and provide innovative solutions in areas such as public safety or identifying where there are free parking spaces. One such system, the Light Sensory Network, was demonstrated by Cisco, Sensity and the City of Chicago during walking tours at the Internet of Things World Forum.
10. Urban Farming: Vertical Vegetables
A simple way to cut a lot of waste out of the system is to move the farm. The roofs of buildings and even the walls can use soil-less, hydroponic systems to grow food right
on the consumer’s doorstep. Hydroponic systems feed nutrients straight to the roots, using up to 10 times less water than traditional means. Advances in LED lights, which
are now highly efficient and emit specific wavelengths for plant growth, mean that urban farms can be inside and stacked. Systems such as Aero Farms, stack multiple trays of veggies, yielding up to 100 times more per square meter
than traditional farms.
A Video About Urban Innovations