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Digital Technology Is Ready to Transform Cities

Smartphones already shape how people interact with cities. A new set of digital technologies – ubiquitous connectivity, real-time sensors, precise location services, distributed trust, autonomous systems, and digital actuation and fabrication – can collectively transform city life. But towards what end? Will they make the city more responsive, equitable, innovative, and human or will they challenge civil liberties and security?

The emergence of technology will definitely increase the degree of connectivity for the future cities’ systems. Mobility and well-being of people will be at the heart of the cities’ concern. It involves all kind of transportation so technology and making cities more connected. The idea is to make the traffic, the city, more fluent. It occurs that 30% of traffic in cities is due to drivers seeking parking. To fight this issue, some companies, like Sidewalk Labs (Google subsidiary) develop programs like FLOW, and Link NYC.

With Flow, Sidewalk also hopes to persuade private parking garages to add their spaces to Flow’s database, and even proposes something called “virtualised parking”. A bit like Airbnb for cars, this would allow retailers and offices to temporarily rent private parking spaces usually reserved for shoppers and workers. Sidewalk also wants to redefine public transport. Flow Transit would integrate information and payment for almost every form of transport into Google Maps. Choose a destination and the app will estimate a journey price and duration using everything from buses and taxis to Uber, Lyft, car-share services like Zipcar and even bike-shares.


LinkNYC is a first-of-its-kind communications network that will replace over 7,500 pay phones across the five boroughs with new structures called Links. Each Link will provide superfast, free public Wi-Fi, phone calls, device charging and a tablet for Internet browsing, access to city services, maps and directions. 100 models were recently set up in the sidewalks of New York City.


For which benefits ?


A fluent urban life thanks to augmented reality ?

smartwalk_transit-screen-1An alternative to Flow could be the augmented reality, more technologically advanced, and maybe more utopic for now. However, the American society Transit Screen, specialized in digital urban signage, developed the Smartwalk concept allowing citizens to get informations related to public transportations in real time.

To work, SmartWalk use the augmented reality without the help of Google Glass; pedestrians get access to traffic statistics according to their destination thanks to a network of connected signage system which project useful datas on sidewalks, shops windows or even frontage. This project started in 2014, but it could be interesting to know its evolution now, especially involving questions about privacy in public spaces ? These projections of informations, datas, in public spaces could be too much for the eyes, which is already busy looking at people, shops, the traffic, cars.


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