Earlier this week, Monstarlab attended MIPIM in Cannes at the world-famous Palais des Festivals which gathers together real estate delegates from all over the world to drive urban change.
We were delighted to participate in this event and positively contribute to discussions on sustainable developments and smart places to help drive change for the future. Below is a summary of some of the key discussion points that were raised during the “What’s next for the evolution of smart and sustainable places” panel discussion event.
Rise in population and connectivity
The world’s population is expected to jump by an estimated 33% by 2050. And nearly 70% of those people will be living in urban areas. Governments and urban planners are under pressure to develop sustainable cities that provide the resources, connectivity, safety, and security needed for people to live comfortably.
Today, smart, mega city projects are being developed right across the world in more efficient and more environmentally friendly ways than ever before.
Smart cities are defined by the United Nations as innovative places that use information and communication technology to improve the quality of life. They provide efficiency of urban operation, services, and competitiveness while ensuring that they meet the needs of present and future generations—economically, socially, environmentally, and culturally.
The role of technology in developing smart cities
Technologies like artificial intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) are already improving people’s everyday lives. City planners and building operators are today implementing user-centred approaches and are prioritising the needs of customers, tenants, employees, and consumers who work and live in smart places and cities.
From governments to manufacturing and construction companies to building operators – people from all parts of the economy involved in developing smart cities have a significant role to play in making a more digitally advanced and innovative society.
Particularly after the pandemic, people expect access to high-speed broadband at home, to be able to use mobile technology anywhere they travel, and to use the latest digital tech at their workplace.
Today, governments are increasingly focusing on technology enablement where they use digital technology to advance some of the policy changes that cities can implement. It is clear that there is a shift towards digital inclusion and how governments must include all members of society in the development of smart buildings, places, and cities.
Data analytics plays a crucial role in helping cities around the world obtain valuable insights to become carbon neutral, improve urban mobility, and better manage their infrastructure in a secure, sustainable, and cost-effective manner.
It is also clear that governments must focus on changing people’s attitudes toward data sharing. This will accelerate smart city adoption, which in turn will increase economic growth while also improving the quality of life for citizens.
Real smart cities are on the rise
Recent reports suggest spending on smart cities across the Middle East and Africa is expected to reach 2.7 billion USD by the end of 2022. Environmental considerations are becoming increasingly important due to high population growth across the Middle East and Africa regions. Almost all the big cities in the Gulf region have a smart city road map.
In Dubai, The Sustainable City is one of the first net-zero energy city developments in the UAE. Parking areas include solar panels that are connected to the electrical grid to supply energy to different parts of the area. In Saudi Arabia, NEOM is being developed – a hyper-connected city in the northwest of Saudi Arabia called The Line. NEOM will include carbon-positive urban developments powered by 100 per cent clean energy, providing a carbon emissions-free environment for residents.
In Riyadh, the Riyadh municipality is developing a system to manage its public services and utilities through a central control centre that integrates systems with many different departments.
The UK commercial sector is also advancing considerably, with the focus now turning to the residential sector that is retrofitting rather than building on green fields. Local governments and building developers are investing in smart technologies that can help people to reduce the cost of energy to the consumer.
Newcastle, for example, has been named as the highest UK city and ahead of some of the world’s best-known cities in the global Smart City Index, with this ranking measuring how the lives of communities are improved by smart technology. As a result, Newcastle has submitted a bid to the European Commission for the city to become one of its 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030.
These are all signs of real smart cities emerging that provide the right level of connectivity, efficiency and can drive decarbonisation and help tackle climate change.
Future of smart cities and sustainability
The sustainability factor is crucial, especially when it comes to intelligent buildings because they contribute up to 40% of CO2 emissions in some countries, which is a significant issue. One way in which we tackle sustainability as a multifaceted issue is to connect it to the user experience.
For example, suppose building managers and operators look at reducing utility consumption to reduce costs. In that case, they can optimise building space, meaning that they can improve the environment and the building in which tenants are occupying. This leads to greater ROI – as building managers can reduce costs, increase sustainability and enhance the experience of people living in the buildings.
The future is connected and bright
There is an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions and provide the right level of connectivity for people. We have the technologies in place to achieve both of these objectives.
The future looks bright for urban planners and residents. With the rise of digital technologies, data analytics, the internet of things (IoT), and AI – buildings and, in turn, places and cities will become more connected. More connected cities lead to greater efficiency, sustainability, and productivity. These benefits ultimately lead to happier citizens that can enjoy greater safety and comfort for decades to come.
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