Clear vision of a city of the future pops up in mind while listening to TED talk by MIT City Science Co-Director Kent Larson: the newest technologies create a space where most what a person needs in life is within a distance of a 20-minute walk. Ecosystem of shared-use vehicles connected to city energy grid provides access to transportation for people and saves space in a highly-populated city. In a city of the future, the problem of lack of affordable housing is solved: people live in convertible-space apartments; latest robotic technology allows transforming single space to anything from office to bedroom to mini sports center, and a very small apartment functions as if it’s twice as big. The new city is energy-efficient. Living units are stuffed with sensors to control light and energy use. In the apartment of the future even the sunlight can be personalized: sun articulating mirrors can throw shafts of the sunlight anywhere into the space; smart technologies will keep light where it needs to be by automatically calculating position of mirrors. The use of energy within the city is operated by dynamic smart grids that respond to human mobility and behavior patterns: less energy is wasted. Clean technologies are incorporated into electric grids. The city analyzes all kinds of data about citizens’ behavior to predict economic activities and resolve safety issues. This isn’t a dream, but the nearest future. The MIT Media Lab initiative City Science has done some extensive research to bring these brilliant ideas to life. City Science gathered interdisciplinary research groups to improve understanding of cities and invent new design, technology and architecture solutions for the cities of the future. According to the MIT’s research, cities will account for 90 % of the population growth and 75 % of global energy use. Therefore developing new approaches to city building is a world-scale challenge. In the US, nearly all large urban areas are engaged in initiatives called to improve cities’ infrastructure, make cities more green and human-friendly. Silicon Valley is one of the areas implementing state-of-art city projects. For example, heart of the region, city of Palo Alto, recently deployed AutoGrid’s grid management system that helps address summer system peak demand and emergency grid conditions. The system includes customer enrollment, program management, load-shed forecasting, portfolio optimization, customer notification, automated signals, and post event reporting.
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Carol Roberts is a Project Manager and Content Coordinator for Silicon Valley Innovation Center, where she is focused on digital content and marketing programs. Carol works cross-functionally with the marketing and operations departments to coordinate execution strategy.