The Wall Street Journal has put together a panel of experts to talk about everything that can go right and wrong with the technological advancements that will transform cities in the not-so-distant future. It will require responsibility and imagination to make the best of advances. Here are some of the highlights:
- “Microgrids”—small localized solar or wind-powered systems—can be built directly in cities, supplementing other means of power generation.
- Big data is being used to benchmark city energy consumption with the aim of ultimately reducing consumption (and thus saving money).
- Driverless cars are a mixed bag. On one hand, automated driving could increase fuel savings by 15 percent and decrease car accidents. On the other hand, being able to work or play during a car ride could result in way more cars on the road and fewer people using public transportation, clogging the roads and increasing fuel demand.
- 3D printing can reduce the need for oil spent on freight transport like trains, ships, and trucks. It can also level the playing field in business in a big way; why order something from China when you can just make it in the corner office? That being said, not all 3D printers are made alike, and the ultimate energy and material savings is not always certain. Likewise—and similar to the problem of electric cars above—if it becomes very easy to print anything, then people will start printing all sorts of things they do not need, ultimately increasing waste.
For a long, insightful discussion, including additional topics like climate change and the unexpected power of tax codes, you can view the full article here: http://blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2016/07/14/the-future-of-cities-green-building-to-driverless-cars-at-a-glance/