By 2040, we’ll need 10,000 new cities to accommodate all the people moving to urban areas, or seven cities the size of New York built every year. By 2050, the world’s urban population is predicted to have doubled. All this upheaval will come with a lot of complications, a solution to which is the idea of smart cities.
Making a smart city is really all about increasing efficiency, lowering costs, managing the complexity of such large cities and, of course, improving our quality of life. Here are 7 startups doing their part to make cities smarter – from the large-scale to the small, from citywide application to the individual.
Whill was developed after reports from a wheelchair user that he was too embarrassed by his wheelchair to go to the shops. It is designed to be compact, minimalistic, and stylish, while being more functional than other wheelchairs. Indoors, it is particularly manoeuvrable, with its front wheels comprising 24 small rollers each, allowing it to make tight turns. Outdoors, it’s actually 4-wheel drive for all-terrain use, ensuring that ground covering like snow or gravel won’t stop the user.
Sticking with mobility, OneWheel is an alternative to portable means of transport in cities. Featured in last year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show), OneWheel, as the name suggests, is a single-wheeled electric skateboard. It is tough and robust, and the wheel is big enough that your granddad could probably use it and not worry how many bumps are in the road. Plus, it has white and red lights on the front and back, respectively, that change depending on the direction you are moving – truly, the future is here!
Mapillary is basically a crowdsourced version of Google Street View. This street view is created by an area’s inhabitants or visitors, who simply take photographs and upload them to Mapillary. This could, therefore, become a more developed and complete street view by including areas that Google cars would not or could not photograph, such as alleys and walkways, etc.
SeeClickFix pretty much does what it says. It connects citizens with local government for the purposes of dealing with issues that need fixing. If a citizen happens across broken streetlamps or paving stones, graffiti all over a wall, rubbish-filled parks, etc., they just input some brief details into the app and submit it. Then, SeeClickFix ensures that the issue is sent to the right people to be dealt with efficiently, saving everyone time and frustration.
Featured for another reason in our Drone Startups to Watch article, SkyCatch is a great aid to construction, speeding up work without putting human lives at risk. Set to automate the construction site, SkyCatch’s drones can be sent off to perform various tasks, including collection of data, after a brief and simple set of instructions are entered. Not only does this leave the human workers to get on with other work that little quadcopters can’t do, but the airborne work that those drones are doing will be completed a lot faster than it can currently be done by humans.
Cityzenith goes hand in hand with big data. It is based on 3 stages: Aggregate. Visualise. Act. First, Cityzenith pulls together data from any available source, citywide, and then turns it all into a visual representation via a 3D simulation of said city. Instead of statistics and graphs and numbers, simply select the kind of data that you are interested in and see it visually represented, be it the location and range of wifi hotspots, road and transport systems, or energy and power. This simulation is available to everyone to act on in whatever way they need to. Cityzenith is already at work in many major cities, including London, Chicago, and Toronto.
PWRstation’s EXOrac technology is about making solar power more accessible to all sorts of customers in all sorts of locations. Rather than a lengthy installation process of bolting panels onto a roof and wiring it all up, EXOrac is ready to go on its own rack system and can be transported from place to place, making it more economically justifiable than permanent solar installations. Available grid-tied and off-grid for commercial, industrial, rural, residential sectors and more, technology like EXOrac is a smart power solution for a growing problem.