What does SUSTAINICE mean and what's it go to do with anything?
City planning isn't necessarily sustainable or 'nice', but that doesn't mean it can't be. We know that rapid urbanization is one of the megatrends, shaping and affecting our future life. Along with the increase of population in urban areas, problems such as emissions, traffic collapse, housing shortage and littering arise. That's why we came to the idea of centering ourselves on SUSTAINICE; Because cities will change, like it or not, and we want future generations to experience this change positively and define it as... well, nice.
The thing about cities is: They grow. They grow and they keep on growing, unlike rural areas.
There are over 33 megacities across the globe and they grow at an incredible pace. Not to mention the rich variety of things one can do and unique experiences one can have in a big city, especially in the Age of Digitalization. Last but not least, there is so much money to be found in big cities! So how did it come to this?
SPACE Urbanization is often linked to improvement and advancement in different areas, but there are, as always, two sides of the coin. The increasing population density and demands of urban environments can also worsen the quality of life in big cities.
There is a limit to the free space a person can have in the big city. On the other hand, the social interactions one can have there are priceless and they lead to innovation and progress on many levels.
The evolution of complex systems would be unthinkable outside of the cities and yet, there are challenges we face due to urbanization. Urban health, environmental problems and pollution, reduced living space, waste disposal and littering are a few of them.
Effective solutions and a more sustainable approach to these problems will define the improvement of the quality of life in big cities.
COMPETITION Competition is growing!
With the improvement of VR, Advanced Mobility, webshops and fast Internet connections, cities are losing a big advantage, compared to the countryside. Infrastructure is the key to improving the quality of life and gaining benefits in the big city. Large scale systems were made to solve large scale problems – based on a low resolution, on low data quality. But these are not the only problems we have. Today we face problems that are local and dynamic.
What should happen, where and when? Where should the bus go? And the autonomous vehicle? When should a road (or anything else) be repaired? How does a decision or an event affect the next few days in the city? How does it affect air & water quality? Previous experience alone is not enough, when things are dynamic in time and space. We need to organize smart and dynamically, in order to achieve maximum efficiency and satisfaction. Our experience does not always help us with solving new problems, because things are rapidly changing. We need a combination of new and old.
INTELLIGENT DATA: KILOBYTES NOT TERABYTES Live, Local, Data: Such data can give us insights that were not possible to gain before. We can solve problems that were unchangeable details ten years ago. We can know where a vehicle is, or WHAT happens at a specific spot, generally. Instant, Live, Local Data can give us insights that were not possible to gain years ago. We can solve problems that were unchangeable details ten years ago. And we can have results right away. This allows dynamic and automatic decisions. This way we can test our decisions much quicker and stay ahead of the rapid pace of the technology game.
What about the city and its senses? Cities need to develop and improve senses, in order to “react” dynamically to different events. Any changes can be evaluated way quicker and the city environment will get way better. Cities can and will become great places to live and thrive in and for that we need to develop their senses. We need sensors. And we need the data they generate.
IMBALANCE Who watches the watchers? What does a system know about me? What do I know about the system? Who else knows what the system knows?
An imbalance of information creates a perceived imbalance of power. That is why security cameras (and mirrored sunglasses) look vaguely threatening. We do not want to create an imbalance of information. Imbalance can affect acceptance and trust drastically. For example, at Berlin Südkreuz, facial recognition testing by the German government has sparked permanent protests. A company could not do that and maintain a good public image. So, we should think seriously about serving the citizens. Making our systems transparent, maybe open or even interactive. An open system can prove to people that it actually works for them and is not a threat. In the best case, local people can even give input to the system. This is valuable data, but also a good way to prove yourself trustworthy.
Isolated solutions are okay for isolated problems. However, the problems we are solving now are very complex, so our systems need to be able to work aligned together. In the case of infrastructure this is especially true, since cities (at least in Europe) are consciously avoiding „vendor lock-in“, because they need to rely on it for a long time. Some companies have done a pretty good job in this direction already with a car API.
If we solve some of these problems we can build a wonderful Ecosystem of shared information. We should build a human-centric smart city!
That is what we at SONAH are working for. We built an optical sensor which solves a variety of problems easily and in real time with a data privacy first approach. Basically, we have a sustainable solution for 99 problems instead of 99 sensors for 99 problems.