While there seems to be little doubt that global urbanization will continue unabated, it is equally clear that current concepts of urban living and infrastructure are neither sustainable nor scalable from an environmental impact, resilience, cost, and humanized living perspective. The status quo of polluted, hazardous, and gridlocked cities is beginning to change. According to global technology intelligence firm ABI Research, investments in urban infrastructure aimed at implementing new visions for cities will reach US$375 billion by 2030 as cities invest in brownfield and greenfield projects.
“The very concept of cities will change profoundly and structurally,” states Dominique Bonte, VP End Markets and Verticals at ABI Research. In 2021, eye-catching urban visions such as The Line and Telosa were announced, proposing fundamentally new infrastructure templates for city living based on green, pedestrianized, and 20-minute neighborhoods served by on-demand mobility, retail, healthcare, and delivery robots, while banning traditional transportation, energy, and utilities layers to underground levels. “While many of these new city visions may never see the light of day, they do offer a glimpse into a more humanized, sustainable, and resilient urban future, much of which will be realized by gradually retrofitting and/or upgrading existing urban infrastructure in the next decades,” Bonte says.
Drivers behind urban innovation are numerous but both the digitalization of lifestyles, accelerated by Covid-19, and the increasingly pressing need to address climate change are powerful engines for metropolitan transformation. Additional agents of change include the call for more equity and inclusiveness, scalable economic development, and more affordable living.
While the most visible aspects of this urban revolution are linked to physical assets, ranging from more distributed city footprints to green infrastructure, adaptable urban spaces and modular roads and buildings, the invisible digital layers and related processes are equally important. They are provided by urban innovators like Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs and Dassault Systèmes developing and integrating connected sensors, software management platforms, digital twins, blockchain, electrification, and process automation. These transformative solutions enable preventive and remote maintenance practices, automated emergency response and traffic management, and will ultimately realize the autonomous city of the future.
These findings are from ABI Research’s Future Urbanization Concepts application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s Smart Cities and Smart Spaces research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present in-depth analysis on key market trends and factors for a specific application, which could focus on an individual market or geography.
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