This is not another article on people and technology

This is not another article on people and technology

Reading time: 5 minutes

“Did you know there are more people alive today than have ever died before?”

This claim has been around since the 1970’s, and it shows that fake news was not something that was invented in our time! But here are some real facts:

  • The world population will grow from 7.6 billion now to 10 billion by 2050
  • Of these, more than 6 billion people worldwide will live in cities
  • The top 600 urban centres generate 60% of global GDP and they consume 70% of produced energy; lighting alone represents 19% of the world’s total electricity consumption

There’s plenty of doom and gloom about the quality of life in so called “mega cities”, and rightly so. However, there is some good news as we start to see some really exciting and innovative projects being implemented around the world. Previously neglected urban areas have been transformed into vibrant, attractive and sustainable places for people to live in.

At Bosch, we are looking at six key areas; using data and learning from this to create real-life solutions within mobility, energy, buildings, industry, agriculture and healthcare.

A good example of just one of these areas relates to the southwest side of San Francisco (SF) – a former naval base, which is being turned into a vision of connected living that will be the blueprint for intelligent cities of the future. The SF Shipyard residents will be connected to each other with a community app, which will receive highly localised information about transportation, home appliance maintenance and surveillance. This app contributes to creating a sense of community and enhances the quality of the neighbourhood by helping residents find local business information, check real-time transportation schedules and share information with other community members.

Let’s also not forget a primary factor of what makes a city tick - along with being a brit’s go topic of small talk – the dreaded ‘t’ word – traffic. Right now, how we get from A to B in our cities is far from smart.

“On average (in the UK), drivers spend over 60 hours annually trying to find parking, that’s 1/3 of urban driving … solely trying to find a parking space!”

Community-based parking, with on-board sensors detect available spots and measure the size of the space between parked cars. The data gathered results in a real-time digital street map that is available to cars in the vicinity, and drivers are then guided directly to available parking spots via their navigation system. After a successful pilot phase in Germany, we’re currently planning to launch community-based parking in 20 US cities this year.

But it’s not just traffic. Buildings alone consume as much as 40% of the energy produced, just look at a typical office building. It is only occupied 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. Parts of it are always empty, but nevertheless get heated, air-conditioned and lit. There are IoT solutions to make these buildings intelligent, allowing a more efficient use of an expensive asset. Virtual power stations, energy efficient heating, hot water and cooling systems, and energy storage technology are all real technologies being enabled and enhanced by the IoT.

It is exciting to see that all of this technology exists, some of which is already in operation in various sites, from which we can clearly show the benefits on time, cost and improved safety.

So, what’s holding us back? I believe it is simply down to human behaviour.

Being at the forefront of technology and innovation enables us to create solutions to everyday practical problems that we currently face. At the same time, there are real problems that the general public aren’t even aware of, and we have to be ahead of the curve in addressing them and finding the answers.

To quote Henry Ford, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse”.

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