Future Cities Digest #2 (29.11.2013)

by Lukasz Alwast

#cloud #software #digital #connectivity

One of the more evocative articles from this weeks Wired magazine is a short essay from Balaji Srinivasan (Stanford Bitcoin Group) on How Software is Reorganizing the World. Srinivasan uses a rich set of examples ranging from co-housing schemes, shareable car fleets, digital assembly lines & neighbourhood crowdsourcing, to argue that the future of technology will actually “not be about location-based apps, but making location unimportant”. By this, he means switching the attention of technology developers from focusing on geographical distance to geodesic distance – the number of degrees of separation between the two nodes in a social network. The kind of phenomenon that makes 2 people come together thanks to a dating site, a formation of 10 people to live together for a year in hacker house, or a formation of 100 people to work for a few months at a start-up incubator. And if those goods themselves can’t be digitized – Srinivasan argues – the interface to them will be. Recommended read.

#wearable #technology #batteries #3Dprinting

Wearable electronics, including Google Glass and a new wave of smart-watches, are quickly multiplying. However, lithium rechargeable batteries seem to be the limiting elements in the technology. For that reason, a group at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology decided to work on applying lithium-ion batteries right into the fabric – hoping that the technology could be scalable shortly. At the same time, Harvard material scientists reveal that  progress is being made in producing lithium-ion batteries and high-performing electronics with 3D printers. This innovation – if successfully deployed – could possibly lead to creating self-powered biomedical sensors, affixed to the skin, that could continuously transmit vital signs to a smartphone. The Harvard group holds already eight patents for its inks and is working on licensing and commercializing the technology in the next few years.

#engineering #research #future #innovation

Last week David Willets (Universities and Science Minister) announced details of a 350mln£  fund to stimulate a new generation of PhD’s in engineering and physical sciences.  72 new Doctoral Training Centres will be opened in 24 universities selected in a competitive process. From the perspective of Future Cities at least 12 centres seem to be highly relevant – naming but a few:  Centre in Urban Science and Progress (Warwick), Data Science (Edinburgh), Future Infrastructure and Built Environment (Cambridge) and Digital Civics (Newcastle). One can expect that in the following months these new centres will be establishing their research agendas, which could indicate a good moment for establishing collaborative relationships.

 #visions #smart #cities #IBM

The October edition of the Technological Forecasting and Social Change journal introduced an article from two Warwick Business School academics evaluating strategic views on smart city technologies (including a case study of IBM’s Smart Cities programme). The research provides an interesting, empirically-backed view on different city technologies from the perspective of stakeholders and actors who feel “they are tasked with the role to create them”. It depicts technological, systemic and strategic views of those companies towards smart cities and points out their principal dilemmas (eg How can city technology help organisations deal with particular strategic issues?). An additional, insightful element of the article is a table summarizing different perspectives on smart cities from the likes of Siemens, GE, Accenture, Cisco, Microsoft, HP and Google – all in one place. Article worth having a look for its business aspect.

Recent reports out there:

 This weeks’ artefact from the future:


Energy Wants To Be Free (IFTF)
“The UN has teamed up with the global Pirate Party, a political party with a platform of open intellectual property (IP), to provide new disaster relief kits that use open-source components to build ad hoc infrastructures for everything from power to water to Internet access. At the core of the relief kit is the now famous Tesla Box—a 10-foot shipping container that can power a neighbourhood by harnessing the sub-atomic Casimir Effect. What else will you find in the open-source kit? Wireless light bulbs, mobile device chargers, rechargeable desalination straws, and an Internet-in-a-suitcase.”