Linking Smart Cities to Infrastructure and Climate

Noteworthy comment as truth is revealed:

“…Architect and structural engineer Carlo Ratti also drew a distinction between advanced technology and smart cities. He told create that too often when people talk about smart cities, they forget about the actual citizens…”

Smart Cities is a topic that society has to debate. I went to a talk recently and discovered more about human heat sensing through lights that dim (why?) and vehicles that are autonomous and an attempt to make it futuristic through imagery of the jetsons or planes that are drones.  What really caught my attention in this talk was facial recognition that is captured by CCTV surveillance.  Where there is no privacy or personal space to go for a walk without being monitored, measured, sensed and profiled.  I find it a scenario that puts me off living in cities as I will move out.

The smart cities idea seems to be spreading around the world and was incubated by the IT sector who were losing business and found a way to renew and make exorbitant profits (whilst 3/4 world is in poverty and violence has not been solved).

I was informed by a Council advocate of Smart cities framed as sustainability that this will happen (whether communities want it or not).  I noted the imposition of this without proper consultation or decision making by citizens given it affects their lives.  I was not convinced about climate change as technology is generated through processes that pollute the environment and disconnect us from our nature (inner and outer). The argument for Smart Cities use efficiencies as the gain from a climate/energy perspective of less power usage, but I noted they still use electric not Tesla free energy, this made me think the energy industry is part of the initiative.

My instant thought was why not promote decentralisation as a better quality of life, less crowding, better air and peaceful.  I do not want to live in crowded cities where people are unhappy, all plugged into technology given STEM focus. The idea would be that profit is maximised in cities where there is constant bombardment of marketing images and a culture of materialism that is fed via cyber advertising, profiling and tracking of customers.  I see a brave new world driven by corporations and governments on board and still pushing old paradigms that do not work.  We may exchange currency for digital crypto currency but ultimately we have not learned how to inspire giving rather than taking which is profit maximising self interest not humanity maximising shared interests.

What of planetary collapse due to our incessant materialism, our disconnection from each other and nature.  The planet is in a mess as we haven’t solved the most pressing problems, all that is focused on is making more money for fear of collapse which in my view is happening.

I regard technology as responsible for mental health issues, social and individual disconnection and structuring life so that people are absorbed on computers that not only affect life, interaction and who we believe we are but physically unhealthy in respect of back problems, neck injuries, aching arms and blurry eyes and the occasional glance out a window into the real world believing cyber is real and life just passes you by.  This will fuel inner emptiness as we focus outside ourselves, ignore feelings and become open to being controlled and fed information that is formulated with an end in mind rather than freeing the mind.  The Matrix comes into my vision.

They speak of flexibility, I recall the flexible labour market which drove wages down but was not flexible for workers.  It has an orientation towards business interests.

The most concerning aspect is our emotional intelligence is dimmed and this continual focus on STEM as there are attempts to move spending away from humanities and arts (feminine) to science, technology, engineering and maths (masculine) dominated areas that orient and wire the left brain.  The right brain is creativity, sensing, feeling emotive and connecting. This is where solutions for the happiness of humanity actually catalyse from, if this is neglected people become unhappy, they disconnect and they become more aggressive in my professional opinion.

I see us being reprogrammed by technologies, over crowded in cities, fed information rather than questioning for higher knowledge, sensing technologies used to monitor, data gather through NBN networks, artificial intelligence (taking jobs, zero cost to business) and further spinning humanity out of balance with nature.  I see this as moving us faster towards a ecological and social collapse.  It is more of the same just repackaged.

Are we ready for the future or Future Ready?  I doubt it as we haven’t evolved to meet the challenges of earth changes which are real and the planet is moving. Why?  because we are not in harmony.

To know thyself and be true is living in the now, this is where the future is created.  In truth there is no future or past, only now and this is the point of creating based on life experience. When we are distracted away from ourselves we lose ourselves in distractions derived by others for their interests but not in our interests as we remain consumers not citizens, mainlined not freed and isolated not communities.  This is a male game by those who have no idea of the important socio-emotional intelligence that balance us and bring us a sense of peace and happiness.  We have a long way to go as we haven’t learned vital lessons at this point but I am sure life will deliver it.

Are you able to look beyond the rhetoric?

You decide for yourself. 

https://www.webuildvalue.com/en/infrastructures/australia-envisions-the-flexible-city-of-the-future.html

The future of Australia’s cities is unknown, so infrastructure needs to be ready for anything

The future of Australia’s cities is unknown, so infrastructure needs to be ready for anything

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Australian cities need to focus on flexibility, cross-sector collaboration and smarter use of data to keep up with the demands of population growth and climate change.

That’s the finding of a new report into the future of Australian infrastructure launched by The Economist Intelligence Unit in Sydney last week.

The report, which is titled Flexible Cities and was sponsored by the civil engineering company Salini Impregilo, also recommends a stronger investment in STEM education to combat a shortage of skilled labour.

“The future is an urban one,” Charles Ross, the Asia Editorial Director of the Economist Intelligence Unit, told an audience at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) during the report launch this past Tuesday.

Countries, he said, “really have to focus on their cities because they’re only going to get bigger, more complex, more complicated, having to serve the needs of many, many more people.”

That complexity, Ross said, underlined the need for flexibility.

“We don’t really know what these cities are going to look like.”

Ready for the future

Flexibility could take many forms, according to the report, from buildings with movable physical parts and multi-use spaces that could be adapted for a variety of uses, to improvements to the technology and energy supply that supports the infrastructure.

That means not only investing in new infrastructure, but also approaching existing assets in creative ways.

Projected population growth for Australia’s biggest cities. More than 75% of the country’s overall population growth in the next 20 years is forecast to come from these four cities (Flexible Cities: The future of Australian infrastructure)
Projected population growth for Australia’s biggest cities. More than 75% of the country’s overall population growth in the next 20 years is forecast to come from these four cities (from Flexible Cities: The future of Australian infrastructure)

“We want to maximise the function of old critical infrastructure, so we want to retrofit all our infrastructure, we want to design new projects that are adaptable, transformable, or convertible for future use,” Ross said.

“A city that is flexible is not just about pumping it full of technology. It’s more about designing a city which can change and adapt to what the future needs of that city will be.”

Marco Assorati, Executive Director Asia Pacific at Salini Impregilo, said that even transformative technology needs the right infrastructure to function.

“That is where we come in. For example, Salini Impregilo is involved in the construction of most of the world’s biggest metro projects,” he told create.

“Once they are finished and up and running, they will be using driverless trains, which are safer and better able to handle peak demand by monitoring the flow of passengers.”

Among Salini Impregilo’s projects in Australia are Perth’s Forrestfield-Airport Link and a section of the Sydney Metro Northwest.

Smart and sustainable

Architect and structural engineer Carlo Ratti also drew a distinction between advanced technology and smart cities. He told create that too often when people talk about smart cities, they forget about the actual citizens.

Ratti, the Director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was the keynote speaker at the launch.

“When you think about smart cities, the applications can be many-fold,” he said. “You can look at smart energy, you can look at smart garbage, you can look at smart buildings or citizen participation. There’s so many dimensions. The city’s like a universe, and this convergence of digital and physical in affecting many, many dimensions of the city”

Professor Carlo Ratti, keynote speaker at the launch of the Flexible Cities report. (Photo: James Horan/Salini Impregilo)
Professor Carlo Ratti, keynote speaker at the launch of the Flexible Cities report. (Photo: James Horan/Salini Impregilo)

He also said smarter cities could make a big difference to sustainability efforts.

“Cities are only two per cent of the surface of the planet, over fifty per cent of the population, 75 per cent of energy consumption, and 80 per cent of CO2 emissions,” he said.

“So if we can do something to make our cities a little bit more sustainable, that would make a big deal globally.”

Nurturing STEM skills

One of the recommendations of Flexible Cities is for governments, industry and universities to invest further in STEM education and retraining.

“Australia is undertaking a record period of infrastructure investment, but to meet demand the country requires skilled, creative minds,” it says.

“There is a labour shortage,” Assorati affirmed to create. “Especially when it comes to the kind of skills we need on our construction sites.”

Assorati said Salini Impregilo had started a partnership with UTS to support STEM students with scholarships.

But speakers at the event highlighted that the problem extends to workers with backgrounds outside traditional STEM sectors.

“The skills shortage in infrastructure in certain professions is very acute,” said Anna Chau, the Acting Chief Executive of Infrastructure Australia. “It’s really important that we have good urban planners, good transport planners, as well as economists to support those supply chains.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

Mohandas Gandhi

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

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