What does a future city look like?

by | Apr 5, 2016 | Smart cit­ies

By defin­i­tion, a city is a large human set­tle­ment; people are the very thing that make cit­ies what they are.

Cit­ies are a melt­ing pot of people with vari­ous per­son­al­it­ies, back­grounds and cul­tures. They thrive because of the great people liv­ing in them; their diverse com­munit­ies; and their bust­ling indus­tries.

Peter­bor­ough is the UK’s third fast­est grow­ing city by pop­u­la­tion, with 115 lan­guages spoken across the urb­an area. Rather than look at these chal­lenges as bar­ri­ers to becom­ing a future and more sus­tain­able city, we see our growth and diversity as one of our greatest assets.

Tech­no­logy enabled places

There’s no doubt though that, for some, the idea of future cit­ies evokes images of tech­no­logy enabled places where cars are driver­less, traf­fic lights are pro­grammed to give pri­or­ity to cyc­lists in wet weather and there’s no need for waste col­lec­tion trucks because our homes are con­nec­ted to a cent­ral­ised city waste shoot. Inter­net of Things is no longer the latest trend, it’s becom­ing the norm. With incred­ible advance­ments in tech­no­logy over the last few dec­ades, the pos­sib­il­it­ies for tech­no­logy-driv­en cit­ies are bound­less.

In mid-2015, plans for the world’s first smart city without humans was unveiled. A place where industry and aca­dem­ics could test new tech­no­lo­gies and innov­a­tions without inter­fer­ence from people.

While tech­no­logy is a won­der­ful thing and has cer­tainly trans­formed our lives over the years, what we often for­get is that behind all of this is a per­son with a great idea that is will­ing to make it hap­pen. People are what make our cit­ies smart! If we’re not build­ing cit­ies for people, who are we build­ing them for?

A people centred city

Here in Peter­bor­ough we put people at the heart of our future city pro­gram­me. With a mul­ti-cul­tur­al pop­u­la­tion of 190,000, each of our cit­izens is unique in their own way and can offer some­thing dif­fer­ent and new. Peter­bor­ough DNA, our future cit­ies pro­gram­me for the city, has fully embraced that con­cept by put­ting people at the very centre of our work.

For example, our Innov­a­tion Chal­lenge Fund and Test Bed Fund have allowed us to sup­port the great ideas of 11 start-up busi­nesses and SMEs in Peter­bor­ough. Ideas like Geor­gie Phone, a fam­ily of apps designed and developed by loc­al blind couple, Roger and Mar­garet Wilson-Hinds, helps the visu­ally impaired become more inde­pend­ent and mobile. So suc­cess­ful was the pro­ject that Geor­gie Phone won the Digit­al Inclu­sion Award at the Made Me awards in Birm­ing­ham.

Our series of Smart Sup­pers offer a plat­form for young people in the city to allow their voice to be heard by pitch­ing their solu­tions to chal­lenges faced by the city. The most recent win­ners, a team of 17 year old boys from Arthur Mel­lows Vil­lage Col­lege, are now work­ing with glob­al con­struc­tion com­pany Skanska to imple­ment their idea in the city.

So it’s not to say we don’t use tech­no­logy to enhance our city, but here in Peter­bor­ough we cer­tainly put our people first. If you’d like to know more about our future cit­ies work or to get involved, please con­tact us.