The South Korean ‘smart’ city of Songdo is the world’s most technologically advanced piece of real estate on the planet. It is being lauded as the blueprint for cities of the future and is due to be finished in just three years’ time. Twnety thousand people already call it home – but would you like to live there?
Once completed in 2015, Songdo will become home to 65,000 people who will find themselves living in the world’s smartest city – a measure not of the inhabitants’ IQ, but of the intelligence built into Songdo’s roads, parks and tower blocks.
At an estimated cost of $35bn, Songdo is the largest private real estate venture in history. This brand-new ‘smart’ city is being constructed over a 6km square area and is located on an artificial island 56km west of Seoul. The estimated cost of $35bn has come from Gale International and Morgan Stanley, an investment in order to create an ‘internet of things’, using the internet to link not just people but also objects such as cars and homes.
Cisco has embedded sensors in the city’s roads, streets and buildings. Each of these sensors will send a constant stream of data to a central hub where data about the buildings, power demand, road and traffic conditions, as well as external and internal temperatures, will be collected and analysed.
Sangdo is a city that will run on information, with the control hub acting as its ‘brain stem’. For example, street cameras will monitor how many pedestrians are on the pavement. To reduce running costs, the lights can then be dimmed on empty streets and brightened on busy ones. Unusual stresses detected on the roads or structures can also be flagged up to pre-empt costly delays caused by major roadworks.
Another innovation is designed to prevent the traffic problems that every city faces. RFID tags will be attached to every vehicle’s number plate and an exact picture at any one time is created in less than a second. This enables the control hub to to adjust traffic light timings, create diversions and provide early warnings.
The element expected to have the most resonance with residents, however, is the ‘telepresence’ video screens. These will eventually be installed in every home and office, and even in the streets, so people can make ad-hoc video calls wherever they are.
A centralised, pressure-driven collection for both wet and dry waste will whoosh rubbish away.
From BBC Knowledge magazine May/June 2012