By 2050, nearly 70 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities – meaning that much of the world’s resources will be consumed in urban environments. With the density and interconnectedness of modern cities combined with the latent power of information/technology, unprecedented efficiencies in energy and resource management are now possible, and companies are scurrying to develop integrated systems to help maximize sustainability.
One such venture is Portugal’s planned PlanIT Valley, a 225,0000-resident ultra-intelligent city built from the ground up to incorporate over 100 million sensors and technological infrastructure to streamline everything from traffic to power usage, water resources, and emergency services.
RELATED ARTICLES ON CONSTRUCTION DIGITAL
With multiple phases culminating in a 2015 completion, PlanIT Valley is a city-scale experiment in integrated technical/economic/social infrastructure, spearheaded by parent-company Living PlanIT. The technology firm hopes that its Urban Operating System, will allow the built-from-scratch environment of PlanIT Valley to showcase the untapped potential of machine-to-machine communication – integrating devices, buildings, and systems to adjust variables in real-time, such as power consumption, availability of health care services, waste pickup and more. In concert with sustainable energy solutions and intelligent design, the UOS aims to radically reduce waste and carbon emissions while improving social and economic functioning.
Living PlanIT is designing the city’s technology to be easily upgradeable, so that advances in both hardware and software in managing the vast flow of information can be easily implemented throughout the life of the city. This top-down approach to resource management is an emerging field, and as such is easy prey for a wide range of criticism from skepticism of efficacy to concerns of security – but the fundamental idea of allowing intelligent components to self-monitor and adapt to the dynamic needs of an urban population is increasingly attractive as information-overload is fast becoming a pervasive and omnipresent problem.