Human beings have a basic need to be social. We do not properly work right without our social connections. This is why many feel office buildings or at least those within a mixed-use system, will still exist. It is possible that the traditional office might not last but we’ll rather end up seeing full “workspaces.” Where perhaps we have one business taking up a specific space in a building then we have another business taking over another space. Yet the remaining place could be an open floor model where there might be restaurants or retail locations. Many feel retail will end up getting closer to home, where we might see mixed retail locations inside one of those city neighborhoods, for example.
One of the key things to remember about the future is that it is uncertain. What we do know without a doubt is that we need to learn to be more sustainable with our spaces. Moreover, we need to be careful with how much we’re doing and even what we’re not doing. Sidewalk Labs, now owned by Google, is all about this. Their goal has been to use spaces correctly where you could have businesses and residential places in similar locations, yet still, reduce energy consumption. They have already helped several places throughout the United States. Yet even if Sidewalk Labs is not involved, we will still need to consider sustainability. Therefore, in the future, this will more than likely become massively important. Several cities worldwide are already working on this.
Right now, drone delivery is becoming more and more common. While only some places have it in a big way, this is going to become more common as we move along as a society. When you think about what cities will look like in 2050, you’ll need to think about drones being above you. There is some good and bad to this if we’re being fair. While many people will be located in a city, making drone deliveries much easier, this in effect will likely end the need for delivery drivers. Drones will likely end up taking over most delivery needs that aren’t concentrated on shipping or international delivery. That means companies will likely end up hiring drone services to take things out, which could become a problem. We might see too many drones and there is always a risk of one failing and then falling on someone below.
It is likely many people are unaware of vertical forests and their main function. Essentially, the goal of a vertical forest is to make what is essentially an open tower where you have nothing but trees and other plants. By introducing this into cities, you’re able to soak up a lot of the CO2 in the atmosphere. The more of them to have, the more you’ll be able to capture. This has been proposed heavily for places like China, where there is a massive amount of pollution. It can get so bad here that you’re unable to see several blocks away in an open city plan. To avoid this, especially in the most populated cities, these forests will be present.
When we discuss things like inclusivity, places like the United States and many European or Commonwealth nations already do a relatively good job. However, this is nowhere near where it needs to be. Inclusivity means including everyone, regardless of their skin color, religion, sex/gender, or sexual orientation. This means everyone, and in the future, the inclusivity metric will be drastically important. When you think about what cities will look like in 2050, there won’t be a white building in one place and an LGBTQ+ building somewhere else. We’ll all be among each other, which means each building needs to consider the needs of everyone and make infrastructure that can fit this.
Trends will continue when both hybrid and electric vehicles, but the need to travel long distances will not be as common. In places like New York City, for example, many people do not have a driver’s license at all. They walk everywhere or take public transportation. If they do not do this, they will take a taxi. Today, ride-sharing is common here as well in other places too. Ride-sharing is likely to become even more common and car ownership will eventually start to die off. Considering things are likely to be relatively close, this will likely be pretty affordable. NYC might have a subway but many cities won’t be able to have this nor will they have a railway. Thus, ride-sharing through companies like Uber among others will become more common.
Speaking of ride-sharing, it is quite likely that there will be a need to take taxis or other ride-sharing vehicles. Yet this will be very different from what you might be thinking. Imagine getting into a relatively nice-sized vehicle that is completely automated. You simply just put in the address you need to go to, and the vehicle will take you there without a driver. Self-driving cars aren’t science fiction, we already have them. Yet chips need to be installed throughout a city for the GPS to take the vehicle. Most major cities will be chipped all over the city, making any address inside city limits possible to get to. Most railways and buses will run off the exact same automation, where they will run completely off of specific stops along a route.
Improved Rainwater Harvesting and Sanitation Systems
When the indoor toilet was invented, it changed the game. Yet when sewers were finally made in places like London, you no longer saw people dump out their “waste” collection onto the street below. Rather, the sewer handled a lot of this for them. Sanitation has been heavily improved but it’ll become even better. Things such as sewer batch plants will be able to improve drainage and sewer systems entirely. On top of this, things like rainwater will still end up in other water sources. Yet on land, we’ll be able to harvest that rainwater and purify it into proper drinking water. If rainwater collects in a sewer, rather than dumb it out into an ocean, we’ll harvest it for use in the city. Thus allowing has to have properly purified tap water.
Cities often evolve alongside human beings. Our needs today will differ from the needs of tomorrow, and those new needs will need to be considered. When you think about what cities will look like in 2050, you’re going to be seeing something designed by and for the people. This is important because we need mass participation in our ecosystem. As in, everyone coming together to say that they matter. This collaboration will be crucial to the daily lives of everyone. Because it’ll open up the opportunity to ensure inclusion and make sure government policies assist everyone. No longer will the government be capable of making things that only benefit a choice few in our society.
While we will see things like tunnels and whatnot built underground, you can also expect full buildings and ecosystems here. The world around us is going to be considering sustainability a lot more in the coming years. Rather than take up space above ground, it only makes sense to go below ground. While it could be that the underground territories will be for storage at first, this will change. Entire ecosystems might be found here, especially on the outskirts of some cities. This might be more common in places that have bad weather above-ground a lot. This does not mean we’ll see a lot of mole people here though. Rather, residential underground stuff might not be nearly as common as retail or eating locations.
Low Power Wide Area Networks as well as the introduction of 5G have allowed us to provide better connectivity than ever before. However, this is just what we have right now. Imagine what cities will look like in 2050 with grids that can handle a ton of users. Not only that, but they’ll be able to reach people at longer distances for a longer period of time. Cities will need to be capable of handling a massive amount of users, several million at a time in fact. This might mean we’ll see a grid cut things down where specific grids are dedicated to certain sections of the city. Regardless of what they have to do, this will be a major asset to cities worldwide.
Yes by 2050 the flying car will not only be a reality, but it’ll actually be more common than some assume. What is so funny is that we actually have flying cars right now, in the year 2022. It is just that they are not the type you’d see in, say, Star Wars or something. The United States Department of Transportation is currently working on technical guidelines for the flying car. Uber Elevate has already been working on its flying car service that will be operational in Dallas, Texas, and Dubai by 2025. It would be wrong to say that they’ll be as common in every city. It’ll truly depend on the needs that one city has versus the needs of another. Yet these cars will be seen, and many will even be fully automated too.
When you think about what cities will look like in 2050, you might not be thinking about how planes will play a role in this. Yet you’re likely going to see a rise in air pads on buildings. Not because of the use of helicopters but rather, due to plane use. As we get closer to the future, planes will slowly become less reliant on fossil fuels than they are now. We’ve already seen the first fully electric plane travel 250 miles, which is certainly not going to be a distance anyone travels in a city. Due to this, one charge could take someone nearly anywhere in the city without having to deal with high traffic or public transportation. The cheapness of this travel will make it easier for people to afford it and likely we’ll see fully automated plane usage inside city limits by 2050 too.
Right now, many think of radiowaves as the stuff we use to listen to the radio. While this is true in part, radio itself has changed a lot over the years. As a result, radiowaves themselves are no longer used like they use to be. This opens them up to be accessed by technology. Radio waves themselves are a form of electromagnetic radiation that we are able to access and send signals through. That is likely because they have the longest wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum. In 2050, buildings will access them and be able to charge your devices without needing to plug them in. Start-ups like Energous, among others, are already working on stuff like this right now. Just imagine how this will look by 2050.
Cities in the future will be doing their best to try and fix their security in hopes it’ll keep people safer. Right now, many places are promoting the importance of data privacy and preparedness. This is because we’re all trying to prevent cyberattacks, which will be even more crucial in the future when data will be of massive importance to the city overall. Privacy will likely be easier to have due to improved privacy systems. Yet city data will be the most vulnerable and likely the biggest target for potential terrorism. As a result, most of the cybersecurity improvements will be part of the city systems in an effort to prevent the city from being “hacked.”
Improved Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Information and Communications technology, otherwise known as ICT, is going to be a big deal in the future. In fact, when you think about what cities will look like in 2050, ICT might very well help to shape them. Improvement in these systems will make cities much more capable of handling times of crisis. This might allow them to prepare for natural and other disasters much faster. On top of this, ICT improvement might help them restore services after disasters or storms knock them out of use somehow. New economic zones are already coming out of this. Some countries are even becoming world leaders within the information and communications field, which might result in their economies going through a boom period by 2050.
While plans developed by Elon Musk for the Hyperloop are certainly not very good, the actual hyperloop will be part of future cities. Places like Virgin have already developed incredible working models. Thus, we will likely see this and other high-speed rail projects in the coming years. High-speed rail or bullet trains have already been in use in places like Japan for years now. The hyperloop will likely be another step in this direction. Only, the hyperloop will be built underground and supposedly move at hundreds of miles per hour. Thereby cutting travel time down to destinations by an extreme amount. Planes may no longer be required to go from state to state here in the U.S. or nation to nation in places like Europe and Asia. A hyperloop could be employed instead, and potentially be much cheaper too.
As we move forward to the future, we will most certainly see healthcare improvements. Some expect organs to be grown in labs by this point, cutting out the need for donors. That could allow life expectancy to go up dramatically. Yet healthcare overall will improve in how we both diagnose and treat sicknesses. Tech will allow us to also support a person’s well-being. This might be through things like intervention and/or prevention for things like mental health and addiction. Yet it might also be for areas like potential organ damage, where we can keep track of how everything is working and ensure someone is getting the proper treatment.
While many of us might use electricity in our homes, that is only possible still due to the burning of coal in most places. Yet we’ve already proven that hydroelectric and nuclear energy are both possible and can be more widespread in the United States. Places like Norway make most of their money through exporting oil but happen to be the “cleanest” nation on Earth. Why? They use wind energy to power most of their cities. Solar energy has also proven to be valuable along with geothermal. Power grids can be hacked and altered, and power plants among other things are only bad for the environment. Why are we not taking advantage of these renewables? Simple, it’s a political thing. Oil, Gas, and Power Companies will lose money when we move in this direction and they have money to pay politicians.
Artificial Intelligence will become one of the most important parts of our society. When you think about what cities will look like in 2050, most of the stuff we think about will be controlled in some form by AI. That does not mean it’ll control everything, but it will certainly assist us with most of the stuff we do. Cities will need AI to be smart and powerful enough to handle complex problems. If today is any indication, our AI is clearly becoming pretty impressive. Again, every single image in this article was generated using AI software. While the author of this article had to alter and use some math to get the images perfect, the AI still did most of the work. Thus proving there will still be a need for humans but AI will still help us keep cities intact.
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