The Anatomy of a Smart City
There is no doubt that the city will be the defining feature of human geography for the 21st century.
Globally, there are 1.3 million people moving to cities each week – and by 2040, a staggering 65% of the world’s population will live in cities.
At the same time, the 600 biggest urban areas already account for 60% of global GDP, and this will only rise higher as cities become larger and more prosperous. In fact, experts estimate that up to 80% of future economic growth in developing regions will occur in cities alone.
The Smart City: A Necessary Step
As cities become an even more important driver of the global economy and wealth, it’s becoming crucial to ensure that they are optimized to maximize efficiency and sustainability, while enhancing the quality of life in each urban conglomeration.
Today’s infographic from Postscapes helps define the need for smart cities, and it also gives great examples of how technology can be applied in urban settings to facilitate cities that work better for their citizens.
Features of Tomorrow’s Cities
Smart cities will use low power sensors, wireless networks, and mobile-based applications to measure and optimize everything within cities.
Here are just some examples: (click below image to open full-size version)
Smart city solutions will fall into six broad categories, transforming the urban landscape:
Smart lighting is one of the most important solutions that will be implemented in citywide infrastructure. While smart lighting sounds trivial at first glance, it’s worth noting that lighting alone consumes a whopping 19% of the world’s total electricity.
Heating, energy usage, lighting, and ventilation will be managed and optimized by technology. Solar panels will be integrated into building design, replacing traditional materials. Fire detection and extinguishing is tailored to individual rooms.
Smart grids (used for energy consumption monitoring and management), water leakage detection, and water potability monitoring are just some smart city aspects on the utilities side.
Intelligent, adaptive fast lanes and slow lanes (cycling, walking) will be implemented, while charging stations through the city will power EVs.
Air pollution control, renewable energy, and waste management solutions will make for greener cities. Rooftop gardens or side vegetation will be integrated into building designs, to help with insulation, provide oxygen, and absorb CO2.
There will be citywide Wi-Fi for public use, while real-time updates will provide citizens information on traffic congestion, parking spaces, and other city amenities.
Cisco estimates that smarter cities will have impressive increases in efficiency: using many of the above concepts, cities can improve energy efficiency by 30% in 20 years.
Simultaneously, it’s estimated that the broad market for smart cities products and services will be worth $2.57 trillion by 2025, growing at a clip of 18.4% per year on average.
The 8 Ways Urban Demographics are Changing
These pivotal trends show how urban demographics are aiding in the transition to a very different economic and investment landscape.
The 8 Ways Urban Demographics are Changing
Cities are what keep the global economic machine humming.
Over 80% of the world’s economic output is derived from activities in cities – and more specifically, it’s estimated that 60% of GDP growth occurs in just the top 600 urban centers.
Given the above, it’s fair to say that the destiny of humankind is directly linked to what happens in major cities. Further, how urbanization plays out over time could end up having a significant ripple effect on the economy, and we should pay close attention to such trends.
Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur, and it showcases eight different ways that urban demographics are evolving.
Below we will summarize the changes, along with potential impacts on the economy:
1. A Higher Percentage of Urban Dwellers
Between 1950 and 2018, we went from 30% to 55% of the world’s population living in cities. This has been driven largely by today’s middle and high income economies in places like North America, South America, Europe, and Japan.
The next stage of urbanization will see us move to 68% – more than two-thirds of the world’s population – living in these urban conglomerations. It will be driven by countries in developing markets, creating a potent investing megatrend along the way.
2. The Countries Driving Growth
It’s estimated that three countries will combine for 35% of all urban population growth.
|Rank||Country||Growth in Urban Population (2018-2050)||% of Global Urban Growth|
|World||860 million people||35%|
|#1||India||416 million people||17%|
|#2||China||255 million people||10%|
|#3||Nigeria||189 million people||8%|
In total, there will be 2.5 billion more urban dwellers in 2050 than there are today. Many of these people will experience rising incomes in cities, increasing the global middle class to an unprecedented size.
3. Peaking Rural Populations
On the flipside, it appears the world’s rural population has nearly flatlined, with anticipation that it will peak in absolute terms in the next couple of years. Rural populations have been slowly growing since 1950 until this point.
4. The Rise of Megacities
There will be 43 megacities by the year 2050, which is more than quadruple the amount that existed back in 1950.
The changing geography of the world’s megacities will be one of the major forces that shapes the future of the global economy and accompanying investment trends.
5. New Population Centers
By 2050, more than 70% of the world’s urban population will live in Asia or Africa. Meanwhile, North America and Europe will combine for closer to 15% of that total.
The role of de-urbanization is often downplayed or forgot about when discussing urban demographics, but it is an interesting issue.
Factors such as falling fertility rates, economic contraction, and natural disasters are actually shrinking the size of some cities. In fact, McKinsey predicts that 17% of cities in developed regions will see a drop in population between 2015-2025.
7. Disparities in Urban Growth
The rate for urban population growth is actually trending down across all types of economies – however, these rates come from very different starting points.
High income countries are currently averaging growth of less than 1% per year, and this will continue to decline to below 0.5% per year by 2050. Over the same time period, low income nations will go from 4% to 3% per year.
8. Changes in Average Age
The age distributions in large cities within developed nations will begin to skew older, something we’ve shown previously when looking at the median age of every continent.
The biggest impact here may be felt on dependency ratios in the workforce. With a smaller pipeline of new workforce entrants and a burgeoning population of seniors, this changing ratio is one of the most significant stories impacting urban demographics.
The Hydrogen City: How Hydrogen Can Help to Achieve Zero Emissions
Cities are drivers of growth and prosperity, but also the main contributors of pollution. Can hydrogen fuel the growth of cities with clean power?
In the modern context, cities create somewhat of a paradox.
While cities are the main drivers for improving the lives of people and entire nations, they also tend to be the main contributors of pollution and CO2 emissions.
How can we encourage this growth, while also making city energy use sustainable?
Resolving the Paradox
Today’s infographic comes to us from the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association and it outlines hydrogen technology as a sustainable fuel for keeping urban economic engines running effectively for the future.
The Urban Economic Engine
Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and according to U.N. estimates, that number will grow to 6.7 billion by 2050 – or about 68% of the global population.
Simultaneously, it is projected that developing economies such as India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Brazil, China, Malaysia, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa will drive global growth.
Development leads to urbanization which leads to increased economic activity:
The difficulty in this will be achieving a balance between growth and sustainability.
Currently, cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions to produce 80% of global GDP.
Further, it’s projected by the McKinsey Global Institute that the economic output of the 600 largest cities and urban regions globally could grow $30 trillion by the year 2050, comprising for two-thirds of all economic growth.
With this growth will come increased demand for energy and C02 emissions.
The Hydrogen Fueled City
Hydrogen, along with fuel cell technology, may provide a flexible energy solution that could replace the many ways fossils fuels are used today for heat, power, and transportation.
When used, it creates water vapor and oxygen, instead of harmful smog in congested urban areas.
According to the Hydrogen Council, by 2050, hydrogen could each year generate:
- 1,500 TWh of electricity
- 10% of the heat and power required by households
- Power for a fleet of 400 million cars
The infrastructure requirements for hydrogen make it easy to distribute at scale. Meanwhile, for heat and power, low concentrations of hydrogen can be blended into natural gas networks with ease.
Hydrogen can play a role in improving the resilience of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, by being an energy carrier. By taking surplus electricity to generate hydrogen through electrolysis, energy can be stored for later use.
In short, hydrogen has the potential to provide the clean energy needed to keep cities running and growing while working towards zero emissions.
Markets6 months ago
The Jeff Bezos Empire in One Giant Chart
Maps8 months ago
Mercator Misconceptions: Clever Map Shows the True Size of Countries
Advertising4 months ago
Meet Generation Z: The Newest Member to the Workforce
Misc7 months ago
24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality
Advertising3 months ago
How the Tech Giants Make Their Billions
Technology6 months ago
The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web
Environment4 months ago
The World’s 25 Largest Lakes, Side by Side
Chart of the Week6 months ago
Chart: The World’s Largest 10 Economies in 2030