The Cities of our Future

By Alyssa

Future city

It’s rush hour in the city. People make their way home after a hard day’s work. Driverless cars pass by as cyclists stream along purpose-built lanes, safe from motorized traffic and unpredictable pedestrians.

As the city unwinds into the evening, indoor sensors adjust the ambient temperature and turn lights on; televisions, radios and even baths are operated with a gesture from an armchair.

Outside, sensors monitor atmospheric irritants, ready to alert those at risk should dangerous levels be reached. A computer planning the city’s waste collection receives data about foul-smelling and full bins. Traffic systems constantly check and adjust, ensuring jams and accidents are a thing of the past. Unbeknown to its citizens, every function of the city is silently optimized to make life simple and efficient.

City jungle

This is a common vision imagined for smart cities of the future: efficient, responsive hubs consisting of vast, interconnected technological systems. But can and should technology alone have the power to tackle one the most acute challenges of our time: how a soaring population can live sustainably on Earth.

By 2050, the World Health Organization predicts that 70% of the population, or 6.4 billion people, will be urbanites. Many of these will live in cities that are decades or centuries old, built for vastly smaller populations with very different needs. As these new metropolises gestate and grow, they risk becoming sprawling, inefficient sinks, wasting precious resources such as land, water and energy, and becoming harder to manage logistically.

Now a diverse range of disciplines are stepping up to help solve these challenges, aided by a suite of digital tools that allow scientists and city planners, for example, to see and explore the futures we are creating and their effects on their inhabitants and the planet as a whole.

Ingeborg Rocker is one of those leading this charge.  As the head of the GEOVIA 3DEXPERIENCity project at Dassault Systèmes, which aims to create holistic, virtual models of cities, Rocker believes that to build for the future we need to take a new approach to designing our cities.

small planet

Traditional planning is built on the idea that efficiency is achieved by standardizing every element. Make every road, streetlight, junction and building the same and you drive down costs and make cities easier and quicker to build, expand and repair.   But, much like medicine has come round to the idea that no two humans are alike and therefore need personalized care, Rocker believes that no two cities can be considered the same. Instead, she says that cities need to be viewed and planned as living entities, where every element and every citizen is part of a whole. Changes – no matter how small – cannot be made without examining their impact on the entire organism and its environment.

Studies of the interaction between people and systems have revealed patterns that are anything but standard,” says Rocker, who is also an associate professor of architecture at Harvard University. “If we analyze the patterns and interactions between people and systems – such as transport and waste management – we can develop cities that are still robust while also being highly efficient and sustainable – but in new terms.”

This approach is at the cutting edge of architecture and could lead to a reimagining of the discipline, focused not just on the resulting structure but also the impact a building will have on the planet’s resources. New technology like that in the 3DEXPERIENCity project allow urban planners to digitally study and test ideas, empowering them to constantly consider the impact urbanization has not just within the invisible boundaries of their city, but also on the entire planet and its resources.

“Even the most remote regions of the Earth are affected by urban lifestyles. In the name of sustainability, we must seek new ways to limit the impact urban growth has on our entire geosphere,” says Rocker.

green wall

Discover more about new ways we can develop our cities!  The video below not only gives a glimpse into new technology that city planners can leverage, but tells an interesting story about a project MIT’s SENSEable City Lab ran to track the path and impact of trash across the US.

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You can also read more about in an article that also looks at ideas like Hollywood’s role in envisioning the future.

NOTE: The video and article were first published as an Advertisement Feature on bbc.com running from 27th June 2014 to 5th September 2014, and was created by the BBC Advertising Commercial Production team in partnership with Dassault Systèmes.

Sharing Energy in the City: 2030

By Aurelien

With the development of decentralized electricity and energy production, the sharing of energy between citizens, industries and public institutions will certainly reshape our relationship to energy in our everyday life. With this in mind, French electric utility company EDF decided to launch the prospective challenge “Sharing Energy in the City, 2030” in order to stimulate interdisciplinary innovations and to foster international opportunities dealing with this major and inspiring issue which affects us all.

Watch the video below to learn more about this initiative:

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If you are keen on the urbanization, energy and sustainability topics and working as a researcher or postgraduate student from a lab/school/university/incubator/cluster (or if you know someone in those fields), then this challenge is a fantastic opportunity to bring your project to life!  :D

6000€ in Prizes will be awarded to the most innovative and collaborative projects, but more importantly, a 6-month work placement, connection with key stakeholders and funding for your project from EDF are the real rewards of this Challenge.

All details regarding the expectations can be found on the dedicated website and Community “Sharing Energy in the City, 2030“. You can also tweet questions to @Challenge_2030. Don’t wait too long, the deadline for applications is March 31, 2014!

3D City Management: Traffic!

By Bruno

800px-Traffic_in_Southern_California

Hello dear 3D Perspectives readers and bloggers,

This is a follow up on 3D City Management as promised in my previous post. In the last episode I explained how noise could be simulated and visualized in a 3D scene.

Today, I’d like to talk about another aspect of our everyday urban life. Traffic!

Most of us spend a lot of time in traffic and wonder how car flow could be optimized and made more fluid, saving us precious time. The old-fashioned way to create roads and traffic infrastructure is by building roads that connect point A to point B.

But if we want to create a city with a sustainable design and framework, we need to consider different elements before finalizing decisions: noise, air pollution, carbon footprint, energy consumption, etc. As a result, decisions about road infrastructure become more complex and need to be supported by simulation software that can optimize the combination of all these factors.

We are currently working with talented people at a French public research institute focused on traffic simulation: LICIT (ENTPE/INRETS) and LTE (INRETS) who have developed a dynamic traffic simulation application (SYMUBRUIT). The value of their approach is to be able to open their model to dynamic attributes like, speed, size of the streets and random events.
traffic simulation

The outcome of these studies gives a much better understanding on the decisions that need to be made to optimize traffic and environmental impact.

For example the result of a recent study demonstrated that a roundabout reduced noise by 60 percent, fuel consumption by 80 percent, and the fluidity of the traffic was improved by 30 percent.

Now I’m not sure all of us believe that roundabouts are the best solutions everywhere!

We all need to be convinced. A realistic 3D simulation would help to better understand these studies. That is why, in cooperation with the CSTB (MoDev), the SYMABRUIT results can be rendered in a 3D scene with modifiable simulation attributes. It becomes much easier to understand.

See for yourself in the video below. Here you can see the impact of a traffic light being moved combined with a modification of the average number of cars per hour.

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Once again we see that building and city management require powerful simulation capabilities combined with a powerful way to communicate the results to citizens. This is where the potential of 3D can be fully exploited. It’s also a direction we are exploring at Dassault Systèmes.

This post concludes this first series on 3D City Management. I hope you enjoyed it! Stay tuned, I’ll announce the next series soon.

See you soon!

Bruno



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