Smart Transport

ABI Research sets out top trends for developing smart cities

ABI Research, the transport strategy company, has identified its top five developments for ways cities around the world are getting smarter.

The company’s free new whitepaper,  5 Ways Smart Cities Are Getting Smarter, offers up terminology like digital twins and urban modeling, resilient cities, circular cities, micro-mobility, and smart spaces, as the top phrases and developments that will be coming up in transport planner meetings around the world.

Dominique Bonte, vice president at ABI Research, said cities have faced challenges like congestion, pollution, and safety for decades, and most have a plan to combat them.

While they continue to face these traditional issues, new threats such as cyberattacks, climate change, and other emerging problems are mounting. 

Bonte said: “This new reality requires new approaches, leveraging a range of new technologies to create true strategy shifts.”

Bonte said cities of the future will not succeed by just adding a “shallow layer of Internet of Things technology” to existing transport infrastructure legacy systems.

The five big shifts

He said the first big shift will be real-time digital modeling (digital twins of entire cities) and the automated, iterative design of urban environments, both brownfield and greenfield.

Bonte said: “Modeling cities and optimizing operations through digital twins is great; designing them from scratch with artificial intelligence (AI) tools is better.”

ABI Research said the the second strategy shift is migrating from a focus on “safe and secure cities” to resilient cities.

This is where cities that are becoming more and more dense urban areas can use AI to help with evacuation and emergency response procedures.

Circular cities is the third shift. This focuses on building infrastructure within the city itself so it can become self-sufficient in areas like energy generation.

This includes things like sharing, recycling, repairing, refurbishing, and repurposing materials, assets, and natural resources.

Adding micro-mobility into the mix is a strategy shift known as Mobility 2.0.

With mass market uptake of both driverless vehicles and consumer-owned EVs not expected any time soon, cities are embracing electric, two-wheel, micro-mobility to reduce congestion.

Bonte said: “While earlier docked, non-electric bike-sharing schemes never really took off, citizens across the globe are now massively adopting dockless electric bike and scooter sharing, and to a lesser extent electric motorbike sharing, offering a much higher level of convenience due to their ubiquitous availability and powered operation.”

The last strategy shift is rethinking the urban built environment through smart spaces. This will see cities able to repurpose things like car parks as car-sharing reaches higher levels of adoption. 

Smart spaces will have to cater to new forms of mobility, new road designs, energy-generating roads and public footpaths. The expansion and active management of green spaces is also high on the agenda for urban designers.

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