There are many predictions about smart cities being where the majority of the world will live in the future. But what will it actually be like for the smart city citizen?
Imagine for a moment that you are Kane, a thirty-something father of two, living in SmartCity at some point in the near future.
When your alarm chimes you awake; you don’t know it, but today is going to be an important day. You tell the Home Controller to open the blinds, start the coffee machine in the kitchen and you head for the shower.
In the bathroom, you do your daily weight check and the monitor shows your body fat percentage and body mass index. It links up with your smart watch, sharing data on how you’ve slept and what you ate the previous day. It gives you a rating of ‘Good’. You smile at yourself in the mirror and ask the Home Controller to turn on the sound system.
Over breakfast, your wife says she needs some time to herself today, so could you do the school run? Of course, you agree and you all head off. You’ve chosen this school for its caring approach and innovative use of technology. Your children can take advantage of the distance learning available, allowing them to be taught from home on snow days and any self-isolation periods that occur. The combined licence plate recognition and facial recognition system means you can drive straight into the school’s drop off zone and leave your children safely. The school’s access control system registers their attendance, checks their temperature and ensures they are wearing a face mask before allowing access.
The remainder of your journey is smooth. You listen to the radio for updates on the pandemic then turn it off. You think about what your wife said at breakfast and what it might mean. The traffic flow in SmartCity is optimised by a city-wide system and so there is rarely any congestion.
The gates of your company car park open as you approach – both your car and your face have been approved for entry.
You drive your car over the CCTV X-ray system built into the ground and it checks for anything that should not be attached to the underside. This is connected to the SmartCity vehicle licensing computer and this confirms that the car registration matches the chassis.
No alarms are triggered and a digital sign directs you to the most convenient parking space. You lock your car, safe in the knowledge that the perimeter security with radar detection connected to a thermal PTZ means it is crime-free.
You enter the office and the facial recognition access control system provides touch-free access, that tells you which lift to get into which automatically takes you to the correct floor and your office.
You are part of a team that is developing future technology, so there is high security around your work. There is discrete CCTV monitoring your workstation. You can work flexibly: a high-speed, secure network allows you a mixture of home-based days and time in the office. You take great care to abide by all of the cybersecurity measures in place at your organisation.
At lunchtime, you pop out to visit your bank. You know you could set up a video call, but sometimes face-to-face meetings are the order of the day. You need to discuss the implications of changes happening to your family.
At the bank, you see an armoured vehicle making a delivery – the signage on its side says its movements are being tracked by GPS and there is sophisticated security to keep its contents safe. There’s not much cash moved around these days, but there are some high value items that need this level of security.
When entering the bank there is a display – a slim bezel 4k stand – giving the latest banking information, plus everyone’s temperature and mask checking display. It also shows an advert for subscribing to City Security magazine.
There are some items you need from the shops, so you head for the local mall. You’re comfortable shopping there because you know their system takes your temperature and, at times of high infection, checks if you are wearing a mask. Also, it has a people counting system to keep its occupancy levels in the right zone for people to maintain social distancing.
Once in the shop you find there are plenty of tills open as they have queue detection software on the CCTV which prompts to staff to open them as needed.
In the afternoon, at the prime time for you for exercise, according to your fitness monitoring system, you head to the company gym. All employees are having a personalised well-being and fitness programme. The heat mapping system advises the quietest areas to train. A small friendly robot accompanies you and makes sure you do all the reps.
Following this, you take part in a video conference with colleagues from around the world, collaborating on a shared planning proposal, that includes video, CAD documents, photographs and text. The conferencing facilities let you easily share ideas and agree on a way forward.
Just as you’re about to leave, you get a call from the hospital, your wife is in the first stages of labour, you need to get there. Your fitness app notes your sudden increase in heart rate and suggests a mindfulness tape, you click it off and head for your vehicle.
You decide to set the car on autopilot, knowing you might be tempted to take extra risks to get to the hospital. It gets you there safely, allowing you time to re-organise your work commitments and arrange for childcare.
The smart city traffic software automatically optimises traffic lights, driving lanes and directions to enable the best traffic flow and least congestion. At one point, it stops you so a bus can pass by enabling quickest commute. The buses are very safe, with mobile CCTV monitoring the driver and triggering an alarm if he or she falls asleep, smokes and or doesn’t pay attention.
At the hospital, the CCTV system tells you where to park and automatically takes payment. The travellator takes you straight to the main entrance, where the receptionist records your name against the CCTV system photo of you and you ask for your wife’s location. You are told to follow the blue lights to the labour ward.
Once there, the hands-free access control pad recognises your face and allows you access since you are wearing a mask. You feel very confident your baby will be safe as only hospital staff have access to the wards where they work and the porters are wearing body- worn cameras with live feeds into the hospital control room, ensuring extra eyes for the hospital security team. Each baby’s wristband alarms if they are taken out of the ward. The behaviour analytics on the CCTV system check for any anti-social behaviour, and in the quiet hour check for slips and falls, keeping lone worker nurses safe.
Later, at home with your other children, you order a takeaway. Your virtual door man – with its connected video and audio system – allows entry to your regular delivery person and you settle in to eat your favourite pizza.
You show the children live footage of their new sibling on your TV from the hospital CCTV system. This allows your wife to push the live button securely to your own location. Your kids are then able to use the speaker system on the ward’s CCTV camera to have a conversation with their mum and hear all about their new sibling.
Of course, SmartCity is not a real place but much of this technology is available today, so perhaps the future is almost here.