It’s starting to feel like we live in the future
We live in crazy times—the understatement of the year if I was referring to global politics—but politics aside, I’m referring to technology. It appears as though with every coming day new technology is being introduced: gadgets, apps, and connectivity that make our lives better, faster, more enjoyable, easier, and so on.
That said, the evolution of technology seems to be a real-time study and living example of the famed Moore’s Law: an observation made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965. Simply put, the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since their invention. It’s because of this observation that Moore’s Law seems to be spot on as it perfectly predicted that this trend would continue into the foreseeable future. Well, here’s the future.
So, how does this real-time, exponential evolution affect us all? It comes down to human nature and how we all connect with, embrace, and internalize technology. For instance, in the past four decades our lives have changed faster than any other generation before us. I think back to my days as a child, I loved playing with cardboard boxes and a Slinky—the lowest of technology.
Jump forward just a few years and my children are playing with the desktop computer. Now, I see children seemingly taking their first steps with a tablet in their hands—meaning that technology and its inherent interfaces become part of their psyche—creating the ability to learn about technology throughout all stages of their lives. Just imagine, the next generation will never feel our pain of “teaching the internet” to our parents.
So, with the evolution of technology paired with the evolution of the human condition as it pertains to technology, the once prophesied vision of the future has today become a reality.
Today, we see the benefits of everything from data-driven applications, learning algorithms, and even artificial intelligence—making everything around us “smart.” And that intelligence has delivered a new environment, one that speaks to us through our devices and that interacts with us through a network constantly delivering new and better experiences. In fact, it’s spawned an entirely new term: Smart Cities.
The concept of the smart city is not that hard to understand. It simply means that by using technology to our advantage, we create better, easier interactions that streamline our daily routines. For instance, most metropolitan centers now have apps for parking—long gone are the days of frantically running back to your car with quarters in hand only to find a ticket. Now, with a press of a button your parking is updated and a fine avoided. A small example, but an important step towards embracing the evolution of technology.
Now, why do apps like that instantly work for people? It’s because of their own technological evolution. We have grown up—at least for the last few years—with mobile apps. The interfaces, user experiences, the creation of iconography that represents functionality has all become commonplace. This means that as more apps are introduced, our ability to use them increases every day due to familiarity.
So, imagine the ingrained knowledge of mobile applications and how that impacts other industries within the smart city realm. Far beyond that of the average pedestrian using apps to pay for parking or to rent bicycles, the people who work to build, support, and protect us and our cities have a new realm of technology at their fingertips—all familiar in form and function as the apps they use daily in their personal lives.
Imagine firefighters and EMS personnel armed with smart phones that capture and deliver building and onsite data in real time. Gone are the days of not knowing where exactly a building is, what it’s made of, what it stores inside, and so on. Now, as they speed to save our lives, their lives are better protected, as are ours, through comprehensive data and the power of knowledge.
Furthermore, imagine that same technology in the hands of our police and military—real-time insight at their fingertips when dealing with calls of any nature whether domestic or foreign. Having data that shows where entrances, exits, electrical panels, gas mains, even what walls are made of, suddenly changes the dynamic between the good guys and the bad guys. And, as they say, pictures are worth a thousand words—all users of this type of technology can now leverage the visual benefits, seeing firsthand details never before possible through just the written word.
And, of course, there are all the applications that exist outside the emergency-driven world. Now everyone from building inspectors, to HVAC companies, engineers, builders, building owners, and more, can all capture data and share it with those who need to action it. It means faster and more accurate response times for building related issues, reduced costs, and far better end-customer experiences.
It’s this new inter-connected world that creates an environment whereby smart city data makes all our lives better: spanning the spectrum from reducing the daily frustrations of traffic and parking, to saving lives during extreme and dangerous operations.
Welcome to our new future.