Build June (2016)

Build Magazine 81 Products & Innovation For city planners and their teams, the improved efficiencies and money saving measures are of great interest. Data collecting sensors collate valuable information into one central online portal, which can then be used to plan and adapt to a more cost-effective approach. One instance of sensors saving a city hard cash came in Philadelphia where they were placed on public litter bins. The data collected told the city that the bins were being emptied too frequently compared to actual usage and so litter collection shifts were reduced accordingly. As well as saving cash, this initiative also meant there were around a third fewer bin lorries doing the rounds, thus reducing both urban congestion and traffic emissions. While much of the thinking around making our cities smarter has been inspired by technological advancements, some of it was commercially driven and has been adapted to fit municipal needs. For example, in Paris advertising space specialists developed a number of new platforms to sell to private firms. A concept bus shelter with phone-charging points, free Wi-Fi and protection from the elements also had a huge display that was ideal for touting products to a ‘captive’ audience. However, that same screen is also ideal for giving tourists and locals alike new insight into the city around them, feeding through information on everything from history to expected bus arrival times, upcoming cultural events to the localised weather forecast. The cities of our not-too-distant future will be places where technology, intelligent design and populations work together as a united force. The free passage of information from street furniture to citizen to city planner and architect will come to completely redefine both the fabric of our urban spaces and the way we work and live within them. As well as creating improved spaces for societies’ most vulnerable demographics, this revolution in how we expect our streets to interact with us as city dwellers will change urban living for the better, for us all.