“Houston, we’ve got a problem”, Apollo 13 once transmitted to earth – which led to NASA orchestrating their return to earth in what can only be called a spectacular move.
Would it not be great if our cities were able to solve their massive current problems with a simple radio message? But Houston transmits on a different frequency.
Admittedly, the notion of “saving” our cities sounds somewhat American: Smart City, Smart Mobility, Smart Governance, Growth, Grid, Home. And of course, the basic technology of smart phones did indeed originate in Cupertino. But our European cities, organically evolved, can hardly take a lesson from their American counterparts. Across the big pond, rented bikes are sneered at and car sharing is entering its very first testing phase.
In this part of the world, however, most major car manufacturers are offering car sharing programmes. Why? Because car makers, albeit hesitant for a long time, recognised that the existing space will (soon) no longer be enough to ensure effective traffic for cars. City centers are becoming increasingly cramped and their buildings are reaching for the sky while also growing underground. Both green and empty spaces are becoming scarce, land prices rise. While infrastructures are not developed at the same pace, traffic continues to increase and becomes more and more complex as a result of novel means of transportation including ebikes, Segways, scooters and boards.
Other problems include rising temperatures in cities, rising groundwater levels, lack of aeration. Increasing air pollution levels pose a health risk to city dwellers and negatively impact living conditions. And now, smart technologies are intended to save the day.
Article by Joachim Goetz.