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Tech can sustain cities

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In 2010, we passed the historic milestone of having the majority of the world’s population live in cities. With this in mind, sustainability must become a key priority for business leaders, says COLIN THORNTON, MD of Turrito Networks and Dial a Nerd.

More than ever before, technology drives our world. It powers businesses, cities and governments, and shapes individual lives in a hugely impactful way. Indeed, smart technology ensures that we have clean water, and that food is available in supermarkets. Today, we order food, clothes, and all manner of services with just three simple taps. We do our banking on the go, paying salaries while sitting in traffic!

Technology continues to shape the very fabric of our lives, and this dependence is only likely to accelerate given that, in 2010, we passed the historic milestone of having the majority of the world’s population live in cities. With this in mind, sustainability must become a key priority for business leaders and policymakers around the world.

Leveraging Data

Today, information technology has the unique capability of being able to capture the ever-increasing amounts of information generated in the world around us – whether it is sensors that monitor traffic on the roads, the passage of water through pipes or the GPS signals from mobile phones.

Every day, advanced technology is providing us with increasingly detailed information about the services we depend on – and improvements in data communications are allowing us to combine real-time data with existing information. At the same time, recent developments in analytic algorithms mean that, more than ever before, we can gain new insights from this rich data store to help us make smarter decisions.

Developing ‘Smart’ Infrastructure

Increasingly, people want to live in cities where there’s a high quality of life and where services are delivered seamlessly and efficiently. As a result, these demands are placing a huge strain on city infrastructures and the planet’s resources at large.

Arguably, we now need a “smarter” approach to delivering vital services, such as transportation, logistics, healthcare, education, public safety, energy and water delivery. Notably, it’s estimated that lost productivity and energy use due to traffic congestion alone wastes between 1% and 3% of the world’s gross domestic product! Smart technology can undoubtedly ease traffic congestion, if the right measures are implemented.

Early Signs of Success

Encouragingly, work has already begun in cities around the world to make cities smarter and more energy efficient. For example, Singapore, Brisbane and Stockholm are all working to reduce both traffic congestion and air pollution through intelligent transportation solutions, including predictive tools to route vehicles around traffic accidents.

Several cities in Italy, the island of Malta, as well as the US state of Texas are using smart electric meters and instruments to make their power grids more stable, efficient and ready to integrate renewable energy sources and electric vehicles.

In an innovative project in Glasgow, new system insights are helping the council develop strategies to provide affordable warmth to vulnerable citizens – while making progress towards the city’s 2020 reduction targets for CO2.

Rotterdam is adopting a monitoring and forecasting system to support both its water and energy that uses real-time information to manage infrastructure and operations related to the effects of climate change.

China is introducing high-speed trains and expanding its rail network between cities, adding 25,000 miles of track between now and 2020. The goal is to fuel economic development without increasing automobile or truck traffic.

In South Africa, we are beginning to develop our own smart cities and smart communities, although there are challenges around legacy infrastructure and ever changing local leadership.

Looking ahead, every city and community will be forced to adopt certain technology tools and platforms in order to attract people and talent – and also to remain up to speed with increasingly stringent environmental and sustainability standards. For both people and the environment, technology is a powerful tool that can be leveraged for positive change and sustainable development!

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

Click here or on the page link below to read on: Page 2: Soldiers and Health in 2099.

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

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Street art goes electric

Kaspersky Lab and British street artist D*Face have unveiled the first-ever “art helmet” design at the Formula E finale for electric cars in New York.

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The ‘Save The World’ helmets will be raced by DS Virgin Racing’s drivers, Sam Bird and Alex Lynn, as they traverse the New York street circuit during the final races of the Formula E season.

The announcement signals the first art helmet by a Formula E team, continuing the heritage of art in motorsport and the cybersecurity brand’s commitment to contemporary art, creativity and innovation. D*Face took inspiration from Kaspersky Lab’s tagline, “A Company To Save The World”, and hopes that his colourful work will inspire people to take positive action.

D*Face will announce his first-ever art car design with a custom-made livery for the DS Virgin Racing Team. Its design will be released at the “Art Goes Green” event after Saturday’s race. The helmets and art car are the latest installations in the “Save the World” collection, following a major permanent public mural that was installed in Brooklyn, New York, in May.

D*Face, whose real name is Dean Stockton, said: “It is exciting to work with Kaspersky Lab on this project and create art with a real message of hope for a better future. After all, this is our world and we need to look after it. It will take every one of us to make a real lasting, impactful change. I love the mentality of the DS Virgin Racing Team and that of Formula E by showcasing sport in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, but is still just as exhilarating and fun.

“It is time for us all to stand together and make a change… be that stopping data steals, climate change, plastic waste or using damaging fuels. I want everyone to make a pledge to do one thing that will help make a change.”

As a sponsor of DS Virgin Racing Team, Kaspersky Lab is responsible for protecting the team’s devices against cyber threats. The company sees the technical environment in the global sport of Formula E as the next frontier in furthering its research and development of new technologies to keep vehicles secure in the digital world.

Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director at DS Virgin Racing, said: “The whole team fully supports this great initiative and our thanks got to Kaspersky and D*Face for their collaboration. It’s an honour to have such an innovative artist bring his talents to bear in our team ahead of the season-finale; the car, drivers’ crash helmets and mural all look amazing.”

Aldo Fucelli Pessot del Bo, Head of Global Partnerships and Sponsorships at Kaspersky Lab added: “There is a need for innovation on a global scale, both in contemporary art and in the fast-growing sport of Formula E. Now, for the first time ever, Kaspersky Lab is proudly bringing together the two sectors in an effort to Save the World and unleash creativity, encourage freedom of expression and further innovation.”

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