63 Smart City Capabilities: Here’s how they’ll change our jobs, businesses and our children

by | Oct 3, 2019 | Technology Trends

Futurist Speaker Thomas Frey Blog: Smart City Capabilities That Change Jobs Businesses And ChildrenOn a recent trip to London, it became clear that the British people are far less sensitive to surveillance cameras than we are in the U.S.

In fact, the number of cameras being installed in London is growing at a much faster rate than ever because homeowners are installing their own cheap security systems. Many people are genuinely scared and will share security camera footage on social media when the police don’t act fast enough. This is quite common.

In London, doorbell cameras and inexpensive DIY systems have become part of the overall surveillance network that is on track to exceed one million cameras by 2025.

Yet video cameras are only a small piece of the equation. Once we add sensor networks, audio recorders, sniffer tech, heat signature monitors, chemical analyzers, photoemission spectroscopy, thermal scanners, magnetometers, chromatography, and a wide variety of other forensic science tools to our street corners, flying drones, driverless cars, lamp posts, and sewer systems the amount of data we’ll be working with to better understand the nature of our cities will be staggering.

If we think of cities as living breathing organisms, where every facet of the city is expanding-contracting, flowing-trickling, inputting-outputting, and inhaling-exhaling, we begin to understand the dynamic nature of this kind of community.

There are lots of attributes that we’ll add to our wish list for the smart city of the future, but first and foremost, they will need to be “aware.” They’ll need to be aware of everything happening inside their borders. Awareness breeds responsibility and sets the stage for what comes next.

It’s all about flow. Smart cities will simultaneously aspire to be easy to live in, easy to work in, easy to travel in, and create easy ways to meet and connect with others.

At the same time, we’ll judge them by their liveliness, enthusiasm, vibrancy, spontaneity, impulsiveness, and their overarching aptitude for serendipity.

Not only will they need to offer great food and abundant forms of entertainment, but we will also want them to feel safe and free from criminal activity.

For business people, it’ll be a good investment. For talented people, it will have a way of amplifying their skills and abilities. And it will be both a great place to be a kid, and to raise a family.

Somehow a truly great smart city will not only make you feel like you’ve arrived, but it will just smell good, feel good, taste good, and have a way of exuding good karma!

Futurist Speaker Thomas Frey Blog: Managing Smart City Through Digital Twin

Smart cities are all about the tools we have to work with!

Managing a Smart City through its Digital Twin

Cities will soon have their own fleets of drones, with scanning capabilities, to create digital models of their communities. As scanners, sensors, and resolutions improve, cities will begin creating increasingly functional digital twins of their streets, neighborhoods, and activity centers.

Having thousands of drones swarming over most metro areas on a daily basis may seem annoying at first, but the combination of new businesses, jobs, information, data analysis, new career paths, and added revenue streams will quickly turn most naysayers into strong industry advocates.

But for cities, digital twins will go much deeper than what’s viewable from above. This will mean digital twins of every power line, substation, sewage system, water line, emergency services system, Wi-Fi network, highway, security system, traffic control network, and much more. Done correctly, every problem will only be one or two clicks away from viewing on the digital twin master control center.

In short order, digital twins of cities will become treasure troves of data as the daily inflow and outflow of people, traffic, and weather become far better understood. This form of digital modeling will also give rise to search engines for the physical world.

Search Engines for the Physical World

Online search technology has framed much of our thinking around our ability to find things. In general, if it’s not digital and online, it’s not findable.

In the future, drones and sensors will replace much of the work of today’s web crawlers when it comes to defining our searchable universe.

Search technology will become far more sophisticated in the future. Soon we will be able to search on attributes like smells, tastes, harmonic vibration, textures, specific gravity, levels of reflectivity, and barometric pressures.

Over time, search engines will have the capability of finding virtually anything in either the digital or physical world.

Futurist Speaker Thomas Frey Blog: Smart City Capabilities

We will soon see an explosion of smart city capabilities!

63 Examples of Smart City Capabilities

Most discussions about smart cities are masked in vague descriptions and ambiguous metaphors.

For this reason I’ve decided to put together a list of potential capabilities that smart cities could develop. With each of the items listed below, it’s easy to view them through the “too-intrusive lens” or “if this happens I’m leaving lens,” but every community will have the ability to determine their own feature sets, and how acceptable they’ll be to their constituents.

With the right kinds of sensors and technology, all of these questions can be answered.


Smart air monitoring systems

  1. Full spectrum air monitoring to detect new forms of pollution, disease, toxic chemicals, insects, and other airborne issues.
  2. Are telecom signals reaching dangerous levels?
  3. What are the most dangerous allergens currently floating in the air and when do they pose a serious danger?
  4. How have oxygen and CO2 levels changed?
  5. Where is the source of air-flutters or air disturbances?
  6. What is the source of specific kinds of air pollution?

Smart playgrounds

  1. Monitor possible surface contaminants.
  2. Scan for presence of animal feces, insects, snakes, and rodents.
  3. Signal alerts for emergency situations, injuries, child abandonment, etc.
  4. Are surface temperatures too hot or too cold?
  5. Has there been any signs of vandalism?
  6. Are the restrooms in safe and working order?

Smart transportation networks

  1. Continually check for animals, birds, or other irregular objects that will interfere with the flow of traffic.
  2. Automatically reroute traffic around problem areas.
  3. Where are the wait times the longest?

Monitoring bird flow

  1. Is the overall bird population going up or going down?
  2. Are they flying higher or lower?
  3. How have migratory patterns changed?
  4. How has the mix of bird species change?
  5. What abnormalities are showing up and why?
  6. What is the overarching reason for these changes?

Smart delivery networks

  1. The primary objective for smart delivery networks will be to automatically find the fastest delivery route.
  2. Are there any dogs, trees, steps, or potholes that will interfere with a delivery?
  3. Have there been any people or kids “messing” with deliveries in the area?
  4. How have delivery times changed over the past week, month, year?
  5. How long do packages typically remain outside before they’re taken inside?
  6. What abnormalities are showing up that require further investigation?

Smart policing, fire protection, and emergency rescue

    1. Whenever an emergency call comes in, first responders will activate their fleet of drones to “get eyes on it.”
    2. When someone hits the emergency button in an autonomous vehicle, EMTs will quickly respond.
    3. Monitoring systems that gauge unusual ground tremors can be used to better anticipate earthquakes and volcanic activity.

    Smart street lights

    1. Smart streetlights will use a variety of sensors to monitor light, heat, wind, sound, moisture, pollution, magnetic pulses, harmonic vibrations, barometric pressures, and much more.
    2. They will automatically change color spectrum to help people in rain, fog, full moon, etc.
    3. Auto dimming will be used to let neighborhoods “go to sleep”.
    4. What buildings and structures show the greatest heat loss in cold weather?

    Mosquito tracking

    1. Is the overall mosquito population going up or down?
    2. How effective have recent efforts to control mosquitoes?
    3. What new species are showing up and why?
    4. What is the primary breeding source and how has that changed from year to year?
    5. What diseases are they carrying and how has that changed?
    6. What are the most dangerous areas of the city today?

    Noise monitoring

    1. Our world is filled with very distinct sounds and things like gunshots, screams, collapsing structures, and rushing water should all prompt further investigation.
    2. Pinpointing the source of noise violations.
    3. How has the mix of electric vs. gas-powered vehicles changed over the years?
    4. Does the howling of wolves, coyotes, or other predatory animals mean that more have moved into the area? Should neighborhoods be notified?

    Sewer analysis

    1. Analyze urine and stool samples for abnormalities in color, consistency, volume and frequency.
    2. How have people‘s diets changed?
    3. What new pharmaceuticals are showing up in the sewer system?
    4. Are there any traces of parasites, infectious diseases, blood, sugar, or illegal narcotics?
    5. Are there any biomarkers present like urobilin, azithromycin, or sterols showing possible sewage contamination?
    6. How has the volume of waste changed both seasonally & annually?

    Sniffer tech

    1. Sniffer tech will be used to detect the presence of a fire much like a community smoke detector.
    2. Triangulate the source of toxic and pungent emissions.
    3. How has the air quality changed and can it be tied to the weather?
    4. Much like a bloodhound, precision sniffer tech can follow the trail of both a suspect and a victim.
    5. It will also be used to track pollen levels, radon, ozone, and other forms of airborne pollution.

    Landfill trackers

    1. How has the volume of waste entering the landfill changed over time?
    2. How has the mix between biodegradable vs. non-biodegradable trash changed?
    3. What toxic materials are ending up in the landfills and what are their sources?
    4. Testing for urine or bladder infections.
    5. Detect early signs of chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes, or even highly contagious diseases like Ebola.
Futurist Speaker Thomas Frey Blog: Struggle To Balance Privacy With Security And Convenience

Our ongoing struggle to balance privacy with security and convenience continues!

Final Thoughts

Our idea of what a smart city is today will undoubtedly morph and shift over the coming decades.

To be sure, data privacy will be an ongoing issue. Smart cities are essentially radiating information and it is up to us to determine the best way to protect residents when the probing and analysis becomes too intrusive.

Data privacy and security issues are more sensitive in some settings than others, and privacy is only part of the equation. If we think of this issue as a three-legged stool, we quickly realize that we have to balance privacy with security and convenience.

Some initiatives such as coordinated traffic lights are high on convenience and low on privacy issues, making them no-brainers. Others, such as tracking people through private businesses will provoke a backlash because they undermine the need for business secrecy in private spaces.

If poisonous fruit has made its way into some of the local grocery stores, people will want to know instantly. This is the same if local mosquitoes are found carrying a dangerous virus.

Competing WITH privacy is far different than competing AGAINST privacy. When we add intelligence to our homes, communities, and our cities, we face a whole new set of decisions to determine the best path forward.

As humans, we are obsessed with trying new things, pushing the boundaries, and testing our limits just to make a difference.

In the end, every capability our smart cities have will come down to our own human-centered value systems and how it will prepare us for a better future ahead.

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63 Smart City Capabilities: Here’s how they’ll change our jobs, businesses and our children

by | Oct 3, 2019 | Technology Trends

I was thoroughly intrigued when I found out the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado was offering a degree in asteroid mining.

Yes, the idea of extracting water, oxygen, minerals, and metals from an asteroid sounds like science fiction to most people, but it’s not that far away.  In fact, Colorado School of Mines’ newly launched “Space Resources” program will help people get in on the ground floor.

After thinking about the proactive nature of this approach, it became abundantly clear how backward thinking most colleges have become.

When colleges decide on a new degree program, they must first recruit instructors, create a new curriculum, and attract students. As a result, the talent churned out of these newly minted programs is the product of a 6-7 year pipeline.

For this reason, anticipatory-thinking institutions really need to be setting their sights on what business and industries will need 7-10 years from now.

The Risk-Averse Nature of Education

When Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen released his best-selling book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, his core message that disruptive change is the path to success, was only partially embraced by higher education.

While many were experimenting with MOOCs and smart whiteboards, changes in the subject matter of their courses still evolved at the traditional pace of discovery.

This is not to say colleges are not innovative. Rather, the demands of today’s emerging tech environment are forcing business and industries to shift into an entirely new gear. And that most definitely includes our academic institutions.

From a management perspective, it’s far easier to oversee a contained system where all variables are constrained. But during times of change, we tend to give far more power to the “unleashers,” who are determined to test the status quo and release ideas and trial balloons to see what works.

For this reason, managers and creatives often find themselves on opposing sides, and the winners of these warring factions often determine what we as consumers see as the resulting ripples of change.

Offering Pilot Programs

When Facebook bought Oculus Rift in March 2014 for $2 billion, the job boards went crazy, as there was an instant uptick in the demand for VR designers, engineers, and experience creators. But no one was teaching VR, and certainly not the Oculus Rift version of it.

Colleges have a long history of being blindsided by new technologies:

  • When eBay launched, no one was teaching ecommerce strategies
  • When Myspace launched, no one was teaching social networking
  • When Google launched, no one was teaching online search engine strategies
  • When Uber launched, no one was teaching sharing economy business models
  • When Apple first opened their App Store, no one was teaching smart phone app design
  • When Amazon first allowed online storefronts, no one was teaching the Amazon business model
  • When YouTube first offered ways to monetize videos, no one was teaching it

Since most academic institutions are only willing to put their name on programs with long-term viability, the endorsement of half-baked agendas does not come easy. However, that is exactly what needs to be done.

Colleges can no longer afford to remain comfortably behind the curve.

52 Future College Degrees

As a way of priming your thinking on this matter, here are 52 future degrees that forward-thinking colleges could start offering today:

  1. Space Exploration – space tourism planning and management
  2. Space Exploration – planetary colony design and operation
  3.  Space Exploration – next generation space infrastructure
  4. Space Exploration – advanced cosmology and non-earth human habitats
  5. Bioengineering with CRISPR – policy and procedural strategies
  6. Bioengineering with CRISPR – advanced genetic engineering systems
  7. Bioengineering with CRISPR – operational implementations and system engineering
  8. Bioengineering with CRISPR – ethical regulation and oversight
  9. Smart City – autonomous traffic integration
  10. Smart City – mixed reality modeling
  11. Smart City – autonomous construction integration
  12. Smart City – next generation municipal planning and strategy
  13. Autonomous Agriculture – robotic systems
  14. Autonomous Agriculture – drone systems
  15. Autonomous Agriculture – supply chain management
  16. Autonomous Agriculture – systems theory and integration
  17. Swarmbot – design, theory, and management
  18. Swarmbot – system engineering and oversight
  19. Swarmbot – municipal system design
  20. Swarmbot – law enforcement and advanced criminology systems
  21. Cryptocurrency – digital coin economics
  22. Cryptocurrency – crypto-banking system design
  23. Cryptocurrency – regulatory systems and oversight
  24. Cryptocurrency – forensic accounting strategies
  25. Blockchain – design, systems, and applications
  26. Blockchain – blockchain for biological systems
  27. Blockchain – large-scale integration structures
  28. Blockchain – municipal system design strategies
  29. Global Systems – system planning, architecture, and design
  30. Global Systems – large-scale integration strategies
  31. Global Systems – operational systems checks and balance
  32. Global Systems – governmental systems in a borderless digital world
  33. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - drone film making
  34. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – command center operations
  35. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – municipal modeling and planning systems
  36. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – emergency response systems
  37. Mixed Reality - experiential retail
  38. Mixed Reality – three-dimensional storytelling
  39. Mixed Reality – game design
  40. Mixed Reality – therapeutic systems and design
  41. Advanced Reproductive Systems – designer baby strategies, planning, and ethics
  42. Advanced Reproductive Systems – surrogate parenting policy and approaches
  43. Advanced Reproductive Systems – organic nano structures
  44. Advanced Reproductive Systems – clone engineering and advanced processes
  45. Artificial Intelligence – data management in an AI environment
  46. Artificial Intelligence – advanced human-AI integration
  47. Artificial Intelligence – streaming AI data services
  48. Artificial Intelligence – advanced marketing with AI
  49. Quantum Computing – data strategies in a quantum-connected world
  50. Quantum Computing – quantum-level encryption and security
  51. Quantum Computing – quantum computing implementation strategies
  52. Quantum Computing – AI-quantum system integration

Final Thought

More so than any time in history, we have a clear view of next generation technologies. Naturally, we’re still a long way from 100% clarity, but for most of the technologies listed above, the shifting tectonic plates of change can be felt around the world.

Without taking decisive action, colleges run the risk of being circumvented by new types of training systems that can meet market demands in a fraction of the time it takes traditional academia to react.

The ideas I’ve listed are a tiny fraction of what’s possible when it comes to emerging tech degrees. Should colleges stick their neck out like Colorado School of Mines and offer degrees that may not be immediately useful? Adding to that question, how many college degrees are immediately useful today?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

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