Smart Cities, PropTech and 21st Century Infrastructure
Smart Cities, PropTech and 21st Century Infrastructure
By Daniel Cook, Director Strategy and Planning, RICS
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Last week we hosted the "Cities in a Digital World" conference as part of the World Cities Summit in Singapore last week, which brought together a range of internationally eminent thought leaders to discuss the increasingly complex array of challenges presented by such population growth.
Panel 1: Smart cities, smart citizens
Forecasts for such increased rates in urbanisation can only emphasise the crucial importance of creating and maintaining liveable, sustainable and smart metropolitan spaces. President of the Foundation for Futuristic Cities Ms Karuna Gopal challenged our audience about the new normal that cities and their leaders need to contend with if they wish to create and sustain smart cities.
Key messages from Karuna included:
- Why wait for a crisis to create the best cities? Technology and design should be included in all city plans.
- Infrastructure should not be linked to political cycles.
- We need extreme collaboration rather than "extreme engineering".
Our subsequent panel looked at a range of key issues:
- Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities Poon King Wang asked the question "Can RICS develop a hierarchy of need for smart cities?"
- Microsoftâ€™s Linda Chandler stated that we need to build bridges across different factions of the city; she emphasised the importance of avoiding taking people into consideration last when governments are making decisions.
- Arup's Chintan Raveshia argued that we need to engage more with trying to change peopleâ€™s behaviour. Technology is advancing to help make cities more sustainable but we also need to ensure human behaviour changes too.
A key takeaway from the discussion was that the citizen needs to be more empowered and included in the decision making process for their cities. However, leadership of cities also needs to change in order to achieve smarter cities, ensuring that it listens to the wants and needs of citizens.
Panel 2: PropTech and Innovation in the built Environment
Christchurch is a city that has risen like a phoenix. Mayor of the city of Christchurch Lianne Dalziel gave an excellent account of how her city is making new opportunities to connect and grow through its major rebuilding effort. Christchurch is an exemplar of rebuilding with greater resilience to better withstand future seismic events.
The city has had a strong connection to science and innovation in construction and has learnt a lot from recent years.
Lianneâ€™s advice to other city leaders was that collaboration is essential; nobody knows the future. From climate change and disasters to social challenges, the only way to solve complexity is together - "The wisdom of community coupled with knowledge of experts can always outperform acting alone."
JTC Corporation's David Tan made a strong case for the future of the built environment going "underground". He outlined a case study from the Jurong Rock Caverns project, providing suggestions on how technology can enable more use of underground spaces.
Following this session I had the opportunity to join David Tan and Director of the new Centre for 3D Printing at Nanyang Technology University in Singapore Dr Tan Ming Jen. How major new technological trends are shaping a more digital built environment were discussed alongside BIM, models and platforms that have already emerged.
Technologies that we are likely to see more adoption of in the marketplace include:
- Smart materials, smart buildings & cities.
- Artificial Intelligence, robotics and blockchain technology.
- 3D printing â€” companies in China and The Netherlands are emerging and Dubai is setting targets for 25% of all buildings to be 3D printed by 2030.
Panel 3: City Infrastructure in the 21st Century
RICS President Amanda Clack opened the afternoon session which was focused on the growth of innovation in infrastructure and construction. From drones, 3D printing, the internet of things and automation, change is all around us.
Two of the most important challenges highlighted were:
1. The importance of financing
2. The environmental performance of built infrastructure
The key task for our sector is how we can use technology to meet these challenges and create the cities of the future.
Our view is that measuring is at the heart of this; reporting the state of infrastructure and functioning of a city system is essential. Our standards help deliver this in a consistent and trusted manner.
- Play a leadership role in collaboration in order to bridge the infrastructure gap and meet the needs of future society.
- Play a supporting role to make the future exciting for the next generation.
In the follow-up panel session, Professor K. T Ravindran from the RICS School of Built Environment led the discussion on innovation in infrastructure. Topics included:
- Disruption to current processes, for example Hacktrain
- New energy provision
- Compact cities
- How will BIM, FM and Asset Management better connect?
It was agreed that:
- More education is required around the internet of things.
- Will Myles used the Australian example of NABERS where better standards like our IPMS are needed to enable, underpin and ensure meaningful environmental benchmarking.
Many delegates were concerned about future loss of secure jobs. We were encouraged to look at the qualifications and the competencies that will be needed for "jobs and professionals of the future" - it is clear that we need to continue to adapt and support this change.
Culled from RICS News/Comments 18-Jul-2016