Although the pandemic disrupted the very core of urban living—from social distancing and lockdowns to destabilized local economies—cities remain well-placed to respond to crisis and set the rules for restoring vibrant, humanized communities. With their human capital, infrastructure, and scalability potential, urban centers can drive the change needed to create a green, digital, and inclusive society of the future. What do cities need to act on as they seek sustainability, resilience, and prosperity in a post-COVID landscape?
A recent report from Deloitte identifies 12 trends as a guide to build back better by leveraging technology and innovation.
“These 12 trends set the stage for what a resilient and sustainable urban future looks like,” says Miguel Eiras Antunes, Deloitte’s Global Smart City, Smart Nation and Local Government Leader. “They not only can help governments develop and evolve their urban transformation strategies but also help them balance short-term pressures with longer-term needs.”
Drawing on the insights from researchers, policy makers, and city leaders, the 12 trends include:
Green planning of public spaces
While traditionally characterized by high density of population and buildings, cities are now rethinking their structure and functions to achieve sustainable urban living.
Urban planners are aiming to design neighborhoods so that amenities are within a 15-minute walk or bicycle ride, with a range of housing, more green spaces, and designated walking and bicycle routes.
Inclusive services and planning
Governments around the world are proactively implementing inclusion-focused solutions, with the goal of leaving no one behind.
Smart health communities
Cities are developing health care ecosystems that not only focus on diagnosing and treating sickness but also on supporting well-being through early intervention and prevention.
Mobility: intelligent, sustainable, and as-a-service
With more walking and cycling spaces, cities are working towards offering digital, clean, intelligent, autonomous, and intermodal mobility.
Digital innovation ecosystem
Tending to attract talent, enable creativity, and encourage disruptive thinking, cities are promoting new sources of employment and economic growth related to technological innovation.
Circular economy and producing locally
Cities are adopting circular models based on a healthy circulation of resources and the principles of sharing, re-use and restoration.
Local governments are acting as platforms for co-creation enabled by technology and promoting mass participation—that is citizens working in a collaborative ecosystem of academia, businesses, NGOs, and the public sector.
Cybersecurity and privacy awareness
To cope with rising cyber risks and privacy issues, cities are creating robust cybersecurity strategies and policies in response to any cyber failure, data loss, financial impact, or major service disruption.
Smart and sustainable buildings and infrastructure
By leveraging digital technologies, cities can use data to optimize energy consumption and the use of resources in buildings and utilities, including waste, water, and energy.
City operations through AI
Using artificial intelligence, technology-powered infrastructure can support cities in automating operations, creating efficiencies, solving problems, and delivering better services.
Surveillance and predictive policing through AI
Cities are aiming to carefully leverage technology to ensure public safety—such as automatic contact tracing—while paying special mind to citizen concerns and governance.
While recovery from the pandemic as well as the pressure of growing populations are key factors for cities, other relevant challenges must also be addressed by urban planners in order to create sustainable cities. The report identifies some of these challenges, including such economic, social, and environmental issues as affordable housing, segregation and inequality, and climate change.
You can find the complete report here: https://www2.deloitte.com/urban-future-with-a-purpose-study
Written by: editors Smart City Hub