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Rise of the smart city will come with the car’s death

  • Posted by admin on February 11, 2018

Some people like change, some people don’t like change, and when it comes to building anything most fear the cars that come with it. Antony Savvas considers whether his local paper will ever be free of parking fears, let alone full of brave new world attitudes to smart cities.

I won’t even bother naming the university city I live in, it doesn’t matter whether its York, Cambridge, Oxford, Bath, Exeter or Edinburgh. But picking up the York Press every night is just like reading any local rag in any growing city that attracts new people to universities and new jobs.

The rein of fear that is apparent from the locals towards any new building work is striking, as protest after protest and council lobby after MP petition is dutifully covered in the daily paper. The centre of most people’s fear is the car, and the congestion and parking problems the new influx of their fellow man will bring.

So if this is the case, how are we to build the smart cities and the smart transport that is supposed to come with it?

Bloody students

My city has doubled in size in about 25 years, to just over 200,000, helped by an influx of young people attracted to a collection of good universities and colleges. And many never go back home as a result of the new types of jobs being created in the area for graduates, including IT, high-tech manufacturing, biochemistry and green technology opportunities.

When I first moved here you could park almost anywhere within reason. Now, if you park in front of someone’s house and take “their” space on the Queen’s highway, you’re in big trouble.

And while there is also a serious housing shortage, nothing ever gets built apart from student flat accommodation. That’s because anything from six houses planned by the local builder in the centre of town, to 2,000 homes on the outskirts of the city, get thrown out by lobbied politicians over the traffic and parking concerns.

There is a clue on what the future could positively entail in what is actually being built – most students either don’t own cars or don’t want them. They are more interested, we are often told, in investing what money they have in “experiences”, not things (like cars).

Come to MaaS

And this is why mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) is set to to become a driving force for the new smart cities many would like to see, to deliver efficient transport options, less reliance on carbon and cleaner air.

Buying a house or a car has traditionally been seen as a rite of passage, a way to mark one’s success. But in the current economic climate renting has become the norm for younger people and buying a car is seen as a waste of money, particularly when more and more of us are living in cities anyway.

A survey of car manufacturing bosses by KPMG found that 74% of executives thought more than half of car owners today would not want to own a vehicle in the future. Sharing economy companies like Uber and Airbnb have, of […]

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