A day in the life of a smart city resident

New report reveals how your life will change as a smart city resident by 2030

Smart city concepts and how they could translate into reality are explored in a recently released report by Frost & Sullivan.
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Smart city concepts and how they could translate into reality are explored in a recently released report by Frost & Sullivan.

The reach of smart city technologies and concepts is well-established by now in the Middle East, where Dubai is leading the transition towards interconnectivity, mobility, and digitisation. But how will smart cities impact residents in the real world over the next 10 years?

Richard Sear, partner and senior vice president at market advisory Frost & Sullivan, answers this question by outlining what a regular work day in our lives might look like by 2030. Titled A Day in the Sentient World of 2030, Frost & Sullivan’s report hypothesises the daily schedule of a typical office worker who, by 2030, will likely be the resident of a smart city.

Of course, while this report is a fictional expectation of the future, some of its scenarios are already present in the real world in some form or another. So, how might your day look as a future smart city resident – and how can such a lifestyle impact real estate owners and builders?

You’ll wake up on time

Your morning may start with an alarm clock inside your mind. ‘Life systems’, such as the PC 2030 fictionalised in Frost & Sullivan’s report, will come with home robot assistants that can “navigate anything […] put in its way”. If waking up on time is a daily struggle for you, then the embedded voice control accompanying the PC 2030 robot will be your alarm clock – albeit, not as “external noise” you hear, but “an inside voice”. It also monitors continuous motion and activity, which means there’s no way one can fall back to sleep after the alarm. The robot could also remind you about birthdays and medication, in addition to deadlines, daily schedules, and travel plans. Running late? No problem – your robot will inform attendees in your next meeting.

Real estate developers and managers will know that some home assistant platforms can already communicate with in-built security systems and aggregate data about residents – all the way down to an occupant’s food delivery receipts and the contents of their refrigerator. As the spotlight on home assistance and integration grows, clients and contractors building tomorrow’s homes may have to revisit their current information technology (IT) infrastructure blueprints to ensure that they are future-ready.

You’ll be safer – and faster

Both in the personal and professional spheres, individuals can expect to save time and money with smart city infrastructure. More critically, their overall security and wellbeing will also improve with the technology – especially through systems focused on mobility.

Parents, for one, may find vastly new approaches to schooling in the future. As Sear’s fictional character describes in his report: “If you had asked me 10 years ago if I would hand my kids off to a school bus with no driver, I would have laughed. Now, two years in, we have not seen a single school bus accident. The bus is monitored via on-board sensors and video cameras. Children are awarded demerits for disrespectful behaviour. The system has actually worked.”

The power of mobility will also increase as smart city adoption grows and electric or shared vehicles become more common. In his report for Frost & Sullivan, Sear’s character marvels that he lives “in a time [when] I do not need to own a transportation system”. Meanwhile, traditional vehicle storage areas, such as car garages, may well be leased out as logistics hubs: Sear’s character says his parents’ former home garage is used as a drone recharging space.

“Our cities have become even more crowded, despite predictions that driverless cars would solve our traffic problems,” the report continues. “The reality is traffic at ground level is horrific and it was only a matter of time before mobility solutions went to a whole new level to counter these traffic nightmares. As cities have continued to vastly underestimate population growth, the number of people choosing to switch to shared or electric has grown exponentially.”

You’ll enjoy your job more

Not only will your transit to the office be smoother and free of traffic, your time at work will also feel more productive and enjoyable, Sear’s report explains. For one, you could conduct video conference calls or refer to materials through in-car virtual reality (VR) systems. This will be helped by the condensation of software platforms, with your company likely joining the corporate sector’s move towards leaner systems and workflows.

“The past 10 years have seen a rapid consolidation of key companies collaborating on two competing ecosystems that have integrated technology from beginning to end, morning to evening,” Sear’s character says. “This spans the entire spectrum, from home-based technology, to automotive AI [artificial intelligence], to the devices I use everywhere, as well as my office environment.

“When I get to my office, the entire team is aware that I have arrived because [my PC2030 robot] is communicating in real time with the team through their personalised digital companions. We recently leased office space in our new, state-of-the-art building, and, for a geek like me, it is an incredible place to work. The entire office is surrounded by smart objects – from smart waste baskets that communicate when they need to be emptied to smart charging stations placed strategically throughout the office.

“These charging stations are wireless, so if I am within the office walls, any device I am carrying is automatically charged. Ambient charging is amazing!”

Employees will be healthier

In the smart cities of the future, some traditional human resources (HR) functions may be automated – saving significant amounts of cost for the construction industry – with HR professionals evolving into “chief health officers” (CHO) in the smart city future.

“The CHO exists because most companies have been faced with significant healthcare cost increases, warranting a dedicated focus on the health and well-being of employees,” Sear’s character explains.

These CHOs will analyse their employees’ key health metrics, such blood pressure readings – monitored through ambient devices – and suggest preventative or recuperative measures as necessary. As Sear explains in his report, this will lead companies towards more realistic healthcare and insurance plans for employers, and reduce premiums and claims for employees – along the way creating a holistic, healthcare-focused work environment for workforces.

Jobs phased out – and created

One of the sectors that is already feeling the impact of automation is manufacturing, which plays a major role in the construction industry. Modernising factories and production plants through AI may lead to the existing workforce having to be retrained. For instance, workers previously performing factory component work, Sear explains, will now have to learn about machine maintenance, programming, and quality adherence.

Globally and in the GCC, the largest players in the manufacturing sector seem to be preparing for this future, and automation is already a critical component of their daily jobs. Robots are unlikely to ever replace a person at work, but people must also be open to working alongside – not despite of – automation.

READ: UAE, Oman CEOs think AI will create jobs, not destroy them

“There has been a net increase in jobs, so automation has actually helped increase overall skill focus,” Sear’s character writes.

VR will also be an important factor in this evolution. For instance, a machine user geared up with sensor-fitted kits will be able to have their body functions – such as stress or exhaustion – monitored in real time. For employees, this means improved safety, and for companies, it translates to reduced risk from increased insurance rates.

“We have seen many instances where this level of monitoring has helped identify health problems such as strokes and diabetes,” Sear’s character adds.

Your sales strategy will change

Printed brochures, files, and documents may soon be replaced by VR-driven sales materials, as Sear writes in his report. “All we do is provide a simple pair of eyewear to the client and have them look and move through the factory floor,” Sear’s fictional character explains.

“In real time, the client can see the optimised space spring to life, new advanced connected machinery, as well as the increase or decrease in human activity with efficiency gains and safety statistics. We prefer the use of the augmented system because it gives a factory operator a feel for their space versus the somewhat impersonal feel of a VR space. The overall experience is much improved.”

Of course, the convenience of such systems will require some hard work – in this case, the growth of 4G and 5G connectivity. As Sear’s character explains, a VR-based, globally usable sales system such as the one described above would require “massive communications infrastructure upgrades”. However, the business case for such investments is strengthened by the competitiveness for speed, and companies may, in the smart city future, even trial 6G to power their cities.

“When I reflect on my life today, I can appreciate how we have evolved,” Sear’s character concludes. “It is still a frantic pace of change, but the human resistance, if I can call it that, has urged technology companies to face human issues head-on. Sure, there are things to work on, but all in all, I am fairly positive about the future.”


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