Smart cities as a market are poised to grow to more than $158 billion by 2022. Cities of the future will involve the internet of things to help simplify the way that people, objects, and utilities move throughout the city.
All of this connective innovation needed to make smart cities possible comes with the focus of making life easier for each city's inhabitants and also making life function more efficiently.
A panel of experts on smart cities, particularly the way that smart cities of the future will move, was assembled at CES 2020 to answer that question, just how will smart cities of the future move?
What are the growing trends in smart city transportation?
One of the most interesting concepts the panel discussed was seeing a shift in where innovation is taking place. Historically, cities have innovated on the supply-side. They've built new roads, they've made it easier to access places with new paths and so on. Cities are starting to shift their innovation focus to the demand-side.
That means figuring out how to alter the management of the infrastructure they already have in place. Asking questions like, how do we more effectively manage parking, deliveries, stop lights, emergency traffic management, personal mobility?
Demand-side innovation is focused on changing the way that a city's inhabitants interact with the city's existing infrastructure. Utilizing real-time big data and connectivity that will come at the hand of 5G, these real-life problems become simpler to solve.
Smart cities of the future will be able to approach all aspects of city-wide transportation and management from a technological data-driven perspective, something we haven't seen in government today. This is only possible when all digital and even non-digital systems in a city are connected. Utilizing AI, this mass of data can be compiled into something meaningful.
What happens at the curb... doesn't stay there
The next trend is cities' growing focus on the curb, or what happens on the side of a road. The curb is arguably some of the most valuable real estates in a city, the panel discussed. Curbs allow for pedestrian movement, product deliveries and shipments, smart food robots to travel. Properly managing the curb is becoming ever important for future smart city mobility.
Autonomous people transport will largely take place on roadways thanks to autonomous personal or shared vehicles. However, unless properly addressed, smart cities are poised for massive curb congestion, on both sides: on the road and the sidewalk.
Autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing services will take up a lot of on-road curb space. Whereas delivery robots and personal transportation devices, like scooters, will take up a lot of on-sidewalk curb space.
Cities will have to properly manage what's happening here to ensure that transportation innovations don't unintentionally congest smart cities.
The group also agreed that cities couldn't really be considered smart unless they also include affordable housing for everyone. They can't be smart unless everyone in the city is appropriately aided through technology – not just those who can afford it.
Segway and the future of micro-mobility
By the two Segway directors' admission, present on the panel at CES 2020, Segway is the global leader in micro-mobility. That means devices in the personal transport space.
While at CES, Segway unveiled the S-Pod, a self-balancing 2-wheeled wheelchair like device that can travel 43 miles on a single charge. They pose that this can not only be a scooter replacement, but it also may serve to help the disenfranchised move about the city quickly, easily, and autonomously.
It's not hard to see how, when paired with self-driving AI, these self-balancing pods could be used as personal transport devices where you could sit down and work while being carried down the street of the city where you work.
Segway has been finding success in the personal transportation market again as of late. With their new S-Pod and new Ninebot line of scooters, they believe that private transportation through smart cities, possibly eventually autonomous, will be the future of moving throughout smart cities of the future.