Introduction  

 

By
2050, the population living in major cities will increase by two folds (Goi,
2017), resulting in an urban sprawl. With the increasing population, there is
an uncontrollable growth to urban
areas bringing rise to the issues of population growth, transportation, and
urban design. A smart sustainable city aims to create a sustainable living
environment through the use of technology. With the majority of Canada’s population being in the
reproductive and post-reproductive age group, most people can drive and have
the need to commute somewhere resulting in an increasing amount of cars on the
road, thus needing the creation of new and more environmentally friendly
transportation systems such as Hyperloop, moving walkways, and self-driving and
autonomous cars. It is predicted that 66% of the world’s population will live
in urban areas by 2050 (Walden, 2015), smart cities are becoming increasingly
popular for urban designing as the Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly drawing the
attention of city planners, engineers and architects to help create sustainable
cities. With urbanization
increasing worldwide, technological innovation and the development of smart cities
is crucial to delivering sustainable cities for the future.

 

Defining
a Sustainable City and the Role of Businesses

The United Nations (UN) sustainability city
program defines a sustainable city as “one that is able to retain the supply
of natural resources while achieving economic physical, and social progress,
and remaining safe against the environmental risks that can undermine any
development achievement” (Hassan & Lee, 2014). One of the biggest
development challenges in the 21st century has been managing urban
areas. A major factor of the post-2015 UN development agenda is the success or
failure of building sustainable cities (Scruggs, 2015). A sustainable city means “development that meets the needs of
the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet
their own needs” (Goi, 2017). A sustainable city involves development that
meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development encompasses all
aspects of environmental stewardship, social development, and economic
progress. According to Hassan
& Lee (2014), the three major pillars for sustainability
are economic, social, and environmental dimensions. The comprehensive
sustainable object is the maintain a balance between the three pillars to be
able to achieve urban sustainability. Scruggs (2015) notes that “the best practices and policy implications are among
seven aspects of urbanization: density, land use and spatial planning;
mobility; resilience regarding natural hazards; energy for cities; solid-waste
management; resource-efficient buildings; and water and agriculture”.  

 

The
problems and issues that arise from urbanization presents the greatest
opportunity and responsibilities for businesses in the private sector.

Businesses are constantly trying to become more socially responsible with their
initiatives contributing to their financial, environment and social performance
(Chandler, 2017). Businesses are uniquely positioned to shape the sustainable
and economically competitive cities of the future and can plan out their
strategic design making. For example, Google’s company, Alphabet, is creating a
smart city in Toronto, Telsa is creating self-driving cars and Elon Musk
continuously lays out grounds for innovation such as the Hyperloop.

 

 

Transportation  

Within dense urban conditions proper
transportation infrastructure is a key ingredient to economic and social
development. The transport system is a key issue when trying to
develop a more sustainable city due to the high population. Although there are
alternatives to driving cars such as taking the bus or train, there needs to be
an efficient and flexible
transport system as it is essential for a future of low carbon transport
system. There are also
currently mobile applications such as Waze and HopStop to update commuters about
public transit and traffic congestion in real time, and bike-sharing programs
are helping urban dwellers get around with ease (Walden, 2017). Forms of high-speed transportation
are becoming closer to a reality, such as how in 2012, Elon Musk, founder of PayPal,
Tesla, and SpaceX, unveiled his idea for Hyperloop, a new transportation
system. The plans were laid out to cut the transit time between L.A and San
Francisco to just 30 minutes. Hyperloop would become a “system of high speed
tubes that transported passengers and cars in aluminum at speeds of up to 760
miles an hour” (Smith, 2013). The Hyperloop would transport passengers and cars
in seal capsules that travel through steel tubes at high, but subsonic speed. The
Hyperloop is also a safer alternative to transporting goods compared to trains
or trucks, offering a new form of commercial transportation.

 

Urban areas require safe, fast,
energy-efficient public transportation in order to provide sustainable living
conditions. However, many cities do not have the resources or space to provide
robust public transit systems, such as subways. Another mode of transportation
that can be implemented into a sustainable city are moving walkways. Typically
located only within airports, moving walkways have served a minor role in
transportation. Commuters can use the moving walkways in replacement of subways
and short distance bus rides. Without moving walkways, urban dwellers suffer
negative effects of congestion, pollution, and the loss of time and
productivity. In the context of a city with high density, economic prosperity,
and amenable below-grade conditions, a subway system may be configured to
provide near optimal primary means to transport the highest numbers of people
at the quickest possible speed (Rockwood
& Garmire, 2015). 

City planners are accounting for the
Internet of Things (IoT), the potential for automated cars and a shared
economy. Self-driving
will only be truly effective in change the whole transportant system in the
future and become the new norm if they are able to replace all current existing
cars. Advantages of self-driving cars include how traffic accidents would
virtually be eliminated and fuel costs would be reduced. With self-driving cars,
in the future, people do not need to own cars anymore because they can just
call a self-driving car to come pick you up. Self-driving cars allow elders who
can no longer drive, people with physical disabilities and impairments be able
to conveniently be taken anywhere without endangering the road. There are multiple
ways that driverless cars can save energy and emission gas with Telsa’s self-driving
and autonomous cars. The possibility of route
optimization to save energy in powering the car and more fuel-efficient
acceleration and braking are just a few of the potential advantages (Timperley,
2016). Meanwhile, autonomous cars
also connected to each other via smart technology and the Internet of Things
(IoT), offering changes for traffic flow optimized, increased safety by
eliminating human error. These advantages can lead to relaxed regulations which
allow lighter cars to be made (Timperley, 2016). Fewer cars will be needed
overall as autonomous cars offers the potential of radical new ownership models
which can lead to “rightsizing”. This is where users can “change
the particular car used depending on their journey that day — someone who needs
a hatchback a few times a year for family trips simply could order one when
needed and use a one-person mini-car for the daily commute” (Timperley, 2016). Similar to the concept of
Uber, people would just call the car to come pick them up, with a shared
ownership, the single car can make multiple trips for multiple people in a day.

In a world of
zero-emission cars and perfectly optimized traffic flow, increased car use might
seem more acceptable, but the reality of future roads may look a lot different.

Smart Cities

It is important to focus on how technological
innovations will be the key to delivering a sustainable future with urban areas
containing the increasing majority of the population. There has been a shift
from sustainability assessment to smart-city goals and combining them to create
smart sustainable cities. As the possibilities for the Internet of Things (IoT)
in an urban environment are nearly becoming limitless to become a sharing
economy, businesses are imagining a world with smart street lamps, smart
sidewalks, they way we building highways or parking lots, and even smart sewage
systems. The ultimate goal for these businesses is to be able build a city where
all of the infrastructure is streamlined using smart technology (Walden,
2017). As businesses are pairing the shared economy with the Internet of Things
(IoT), public spaces such as sidewalks, parks, and recreational areas are also
utilizing technology to make city life easier and more efficient. Urban spaces
are now being transformed into a way of assembling a city as the urban
environment is now an interaction between social content, political content and
energy consumption.

However,
the development of a smart city is not only dependent on technology, it
requires the combination of smart governance, smart businesses, and smart
citizens to run the smart city effectively. For example, CitySwipe is a mobile
application that presents local residents with images of potential scenarios
and simple yes/no questions. Questions that CitySwipe ask are about attitudes
towards walking, bike lanes, housing, and beyong. For example, a fairly basic
questions would be: a photo of some street art appears with a caption asking
“Do you want more of this?” or “Which do you prefer?” (Wainwright, 2017). Evidently, it takes smart citizens
to help build a smart city as they are encouraged to
swipe through the options and help consult and give feedback on the future of
building their city. These types of application help the stakeholders of
residents, planners, developers, and businesses alike.

An
example of a smart city that will be built in the future is the Queens Quay neighborhood
on the Toronto Waterfront. Sidewalk Labs, a division of Alphabet, Google’s
parent company, has signed a deal with the city and will invest $50 million to
devote urban innovation to demonstrate how data driven technology can improve
the quality of city life (Bozikovic,
2017). “Sidewalk Toronto” is a combination of technology and urbanism and will
represent North America’s largest example of the smart
city. The urban district will be “built around information technology and uses
data – about traffic, noise, air quality and the performance of systems including
trash bins and the electrical grid – to guide its operation” (Bozikovic, 2017). Within the area, private
cars will be banned, and the streets would be served by autonomous vehicles and
freight robots moving in underground tunnels. Traffic will be managed by intelligent
signals and pedestrian-friendly streets, and buildings will be designed to be
highly flexible and constructed using modular units that are produced nearby (Bozikovic, 2017). The homes will become a
radical mix with offices, retail, residence, and maker spaces. Theses buildings
will be linked by an energy system that “would reduce the district’s energy
consumption by 95 per cent below city regulations. Sidewalk believes that their
role is “to create the conditions for others to innovate on top of” (Bozikovic, 2017).

This new smart city on Quayside is meant to improve the
quality of life with sensors and cameras to collect data on the traffic and
environment. The data
itself will be open for people to use and access in creating a more sustainable
city. Quayside can solve many of the city’s issues including affordable housing
(Kerr, 2017).A portion of housing units in Quayside will be
“affordable,” subsidized homes that would allow Quayside’s population
to “reflect the socioeconomic diversity” (Kerr,
2017).

Conclusion

 

            Businesses,
government, and residents are working together to combat the issues of
population growth, transportation, and urban design in creating more
sustainable cities using technological innovations. Hyperloop, the new form of
future hyper speed tube transportation eliminates the need for trains and to
carry passengers and commercial goods to reduce emission gasses in the
environment. Moving walkways will allow pedestrians to walk the distance that
they would usually take the subway or bus for, and self-driving electric cars will
create for shared ownership so there are less cars travelling. Moreover,
companies such as Sidewalk are creating developing devices and processes,
streamlining the infrastructure of the city. However, there are concerns of
which stakeholder owns the intellectual property and if competitors have access
to the platform. Self-driving
taxibots and buses will be transportation backbone of the neighborhood. Sidewalk proposes
“taxibots” as the transportation backbone of the neighborhood as they
are successful contribute to their corporate social responsibility with this
smart city.  

 

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