The technology should improve the lifestyle of the inhabitants, not restrict, control and inhibit them. In a smart town it is what people choose to do with the technology that counts, not what technology they may have. 

The characteristics of a smart towns include:

  • a technology-based infrastructure - wifi, low power use, smart parking etc
  • environmental initiatives to make the towns more autonomous - solar, local recycling
  • a high functioning public transportation system, free buses, scooters
  • urban planning which includes the community in decision making - community consultation
  • people living and working within the town - not commuting large distances
  • people creating things and generating and sharing media content - maker spaces

Singapore is "smart" city that provides it's population with smart technologies to help monitor energy use, waste production and water use in real time. Singapore is also testing autonomous vehicles, including full-size robotic buses, as well as an elderly monitoring system to ensure the health and well-being of its senior citizens. There is much more that can be done.

The "smart" city initiative of Kansas City, involves smart streetlights, interactive kiosks and more than 50 blocks of free public Wi-Fi along the city's two-mile streetcar route. Available parking spaces, traffic flow and pedestrian hotspots are all publically available through the city's data visualization app.

The  iTown of the future will include:

  • local access to technology for everyone
  • maker spaces so that people can build new systems and learn how to control them
  • mixed-use buildings which increase sharing 
  • integrate schools into the community - leverage the experiences of all 

We need high technology hubs to act as catalyst and focal point for the community. State and Local government need to be supportive.

All of these areas in our community now benefit from computer systems and increasingly from AI systems and robotics.

The utilization of these technologies will no doubt increase over time, but at the moment there is little integration. People have to deal with a complex interplay of these technologies.

The Future Centre will serve to unite, integrate and streamline access to high tech.

Report: Sustainable Cities and Regions.pdf

Over the next few decades the iOT (internet of things) will become more connected with our existing reality as our digital environment extends beyond televisions, smartphones, computers and the internet. Smart devices will permeate all of society and:

·     Computer systems will become more ubiquitous and be seen and used as applicances.

·     We will trust robotic cars to take us where we need to go.

·     Towns will have their own network infrastructure of smart systems and AI.

·     People will work more from home as work increasingly becomes information based.

·     Work will be optional for many. Not as part of a 'dole', but as a base payment that everyone will receive. As robots and AI replace jobs, where will people work? Maybe they won't!

·     The economy will be heavily based on technology, particularly renewable technology.

·     Artificial Intelligent (AI) systems will increasingly replace traditional rule-base computer systems

·     We will each be supported by highly personalized computer-based applicances, that are able to anticipate our needs and proactively support our activities.

·     Robots will share new found knowledge to their robot network to share innovations and accelerate progress.

·     Work will continue on modeling the human brain and we may have general AI by 2050.

This is as not as far fetched as it may seem. While futurologists predicted a great many things in the seventies, the technology was far off. Now we are seeing exponential growth in technology and many of these things can now happen. 

Unfortunately, much of this technology may have a negative effect on our society. In fact, already people are using the internet (the current revolution) to retreat from society. Social media has ironically made many people more isolated. 

We cannot retreat from the technology, but embrace and control it. This does not mean everyone has to become a computer wizard, but we do need to raise people's awareness and encourage positive engagements with the new AI based technology.

We need to build smart towns that exploit the new technologies in a way that helps people and improves their lives. Moreover people need to be in control.