With our current insights it would have seemed more obvious to name ‘Smart Cities’ as our theme. However, ‘Smart Cities’ focuses mostly on IT by making everything ‘smarter’. There is much more to take into consideration. IT might be key in our near future, as ‘robotics’, ‘the internet of things’ and ‘big data’ are hot topics but the specific attention for IT causes other important subjects to be pushed aside. Subjects like durability, circular economy, (health) care, water, ecology and natural resources, energy, food availability, an aging population and mobility, livability and urbanization make a long list of being seemingly off topic.
That is why CURIOZY has chosen to work with ‘Boosts for the better’ as a central theme. Worldwide issues can be translated to innovative, scalable urban solutions in which innovation, education and human capital will find a place in cooperation with IT smartness.
Since the 21st century most of the world population lives in cities. Food availability is managed by a decreasing group of people, which enhances the vulnerability of our food supply. Where our standard of living is increasing which enhances our ecological footprint our labor reserves are decreasing which makes it harder to create quick economic expansions.
In 1900 about 225 million people were living in cities what boils down to 12 to 15 percent of our population. Around 1950, this percentage was about 30 and around 2000 it was approximately 50%, meaning about 3 billion people now live in urban environments. This growth was partially a result of migration from rural areas towards cities but since the sanitary revolution cities were also capable of growth due to a surplus of births. The live expectancy in cities became higher than in the country, which is a huge contrast with earlier times. Expected is that 75% of the people will reside in cities in 2050.
In the entire world cities grew to sometimes over dozens of millions of inhabitants. Life in a city asked for different interactions than people were used to in smaller villages which made a huge impact on daily life. Instead of traditional farmer families, where multiple generations were living together, a single generation family with fewer children emerged. This resulted in a more individualistic life style and looser family ties. Personal trust was no longer the basis of living in a community and a demand on the justice system and educational system grew. In response street gangs and community associations came into view. Although many urban problems still search for a satisfying solution, city life holds so many advantages that cities continue growing.
After the first stadium of urbanization, the second one followed, suburbanization (derived from ‘suburb’). This entails a migration into a different direction. People are fleeing town due to lack of space, noises and pollution. Although people seem to start living outside the city, this migration is still part of the urbanization process as the suburban’s are certainly not the same people as the villagers of former times. They do not grow their own food (apart from a few allotments) and are still dependant on cities, serving them with employment, education and culture.
Cities need metropolitan coordinated solutions empowered by innovative technology and design methods. Metropolitan solutions can’t be carried out by a single party; it requires collaboration between knowledge bases, companies, other cities and inhabitants.
This development puts us in front of huge challenges in how to use our natural resources concomitant the environmental burdens and livability in cities. Cities will have to become smarter if they want to tackle these hurdles. Smarter by attacking problems together with other affected participants and including all the city demands into one larger project; smarter by collecting and processing data in ‘real time’. Processing and distributing data at the right moment to businesses, civilians and administrators. But also smarter by bringing the experiment into the cities, not just concocting ideas behind a desk, but getting civilians, administrators, students, teachers and lectors to participate and help realize solid solutions.
Samen werken in Singapore
CURIOZY often collaborates with Singapore; a city-state where human capital is high on the agenda. It’s a melting pot of cultures and an important hub to Southeast Asia.
The current educational system works closely with corporate structures where teachers are often owner of innovation and knowledge projects. Students participate in these projects, not only by having lectures, but also working hands-on. This system allows young enterprises to work on their products, services and propositions in cooperation with students in small cultivation-like set-ups.
Singapore evolved from a village with its focus on fishing into one of the most important economic intensification places in the world; an expansion that connotes a huge urbanization process. On a surface not much bigger than the conglomerate of Rotterdam about 5, 5 million people reside. Expected growth is to 7 million people by the year 2030. This process is starting to ask its toll. Mobility, durability, energy availability, aging people and (health) care are starting to show urbanization issues. In 5- and 10-year planning projects and with a lot of financial support these issues are being faced head on realizing Singapore to become ‘the city in the garden’.
Education plays a big part in Singaporean life and students are prompted to translate global problems to urban solutions. Therefore their credo is: ‘You need them from Singapore!’
Not unimportant, Singapore is very accessible; from business centre to airport and from industrial parks to polytechnics are in short distances of each other and easy to reach; meaning that appointments with several parties are easily done in one day.
Singapore is an ideal, orderly city-state that is able to translate global issues to urban solutions; perfect to give ‘boosts’ to create a better world.