In this article, we will examine the timeframe for smart city design for high productivity. How long to invest in Smart City is an important and viable consideration for investors. The text below is part of this article.
BACpress: Smart cities optimize the use of technology in the design and operation of infrastructure and buildings in a way which meets the current and future needs of their citizens. Truly smart cities should be about more than just harnessing technology; they require consideration of governance and growth, urban development and infrastructure, the environment and natural resources, society and community. (Ref Buro Happold: Defining and benchmarking SMART cities)
Complexities of establishing a design timeframe
As urbanization increases and technologies that offer the opportunity to improve city efficiency and quality of life come on stream at an accelerating rate, so it becomes necessary to ensure that cities are both future-proofed and flexible. The impact of climate change brings in an additional layer of complexity with the need for both resilience and adaptability. These competing demands make it difficult to establish a single timeframe for the design of smart cities.
In its simplest sense, sustainable development means ensuring that the planet is left in a good a state for future generations. As a result, the timeframe necessary to judge the sustainability of a development is a long one. This can present something of a dichotomy for practitioners charged with planning, designing and constructing (or regenerating) cities where short and medium-term goals are easier to establish and measure; especially in terms of cost and pay-back.
It is sometimes argued that longer-term interests are established by national and regional policies and strategies, but this is not always the case as the short timescales of politics and economics tend to hold more sway than the interests of future voters or shareholders.
UK National Infrastructure Plan
A case in point is the UK’s much heralded National Infrastructure Plan, which in its initial form was intended to look forward a number of decades, identifying and prioritizing the critical elements of infrastructure the UK would need to shape the future well-being of the country. What has actually been produced can be characterized as no more than a list of likely infrastructure projects to be delivered over the next ten years; something that addresses the current economic challenges the Government faces but does not represent effective long-term planning.
The best timeframe for building investment
Investment in buildings should probably be viewed over a period of 40 to 50 years. However, many developers are constructing for short-term profit and then handing over buildings to asset managers for the longer term. This does not encourage a long-term view of sustainability from a construction and operational perspective.
Many major infrastructure programmers that are being undertaken today will continue to impact on the UK economy and its carbon footprint for the next 50 to 80 years, but few decisions will be made on this basis.
The rapid rate of change in the market place adds a further level of complexity. Designers need to ensure that every opportunity is taken to identify the most efficient solutions for the delivery of buildings and infrastructure. This means taking advantage of the new opportunities offered by technology. The timeframes of some hi-tech industries are measured in months or even weeks. A product may only have a shelf-life of 80 weeks before it becomes redundant and is superseded by a ‘newer and better’ solution.
Properly considering all of these competing demands requires that designers work across a number of different timescales to find solutions which capture rapid and potentially valuable advances in technology and applies them to a backbone of resilient and adaptable infrastructure capable of many years of operation without costly upgrades.