Cities and the Rise of the Sharing Economy

This article is written by Carlo Ratti, Director, SENSEable City Lab, MIT and published on the WEF on Monday 19 December 2016 is posted here for its obvious interest for our readers.  Working on after defining the Importance of Cities and the Rise of the Sharing Economy in the world of tomorrow seems to be the key for resolving our problems of climate change and all.  The MENA region is hinted at only in the Rise of the Sharing Economy graph where it is rated little above the world average.

These four numbers define the importance of our cities: -2, 50, 75 and 80

Cities are home to more than half the world’s population, and that number continues to grow. How should they adapt to cope with demand? This is a question that will increasingly be answered by technology, says Carlo Ratti, Director of MIT’s Senseable City Laboratory and co-chair of the Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization. In this interview, Ratti envisions a future where our homes, offices and even our furniture is designed to evolve and respond to how we use them, rather than the other way around.

Why is it important to think about the future of urbanization?

Four numbers define the importance of cities: 2, 50, 75 and 80. Cities occupy 2% of the world’s surface, but they are host up to 50% of the world’s population, are responsible for 75% of global energy consumption and 80% of CO2 emissions. Hence, if we made our cities just a little more efficient, we could have a major global impact.

What emerging trends are set to shape how we live in cities?

The internet is entering the physical space, merging the physical and digital layers – and this is opening up a new world of applications, from energy to mobility, water management to citizen participation.

For example: today, a staggering amount of energy is wasted on heating or cooling empty offices, homes and partially occupied buildings. At MIT we researched how the Internet of Things could help to synchronize human presence with climate control – that is, heating or cooling people, not entire buildings. We developed and tested prototypes that we are now applying architecturally – for example, in the redesign of Fondazione Agnelli, an historical building in Torino, Italy.

Occupants of the building will be followed as they move around by a personalized heating, cooling and lighting system, like an individually-tailored environmental bubble, optimizing space usage and limiting energy waste.

image-statista-1Image: Statista

How else might technology change the way we use buildings?

Think about our working lives. We already have the technological tools to enable remote working, but most of us still commute to offices every day. Why hasn’t remote working taken off as much as many people thought it would? Because being in the same building makes it easier for people to share knowledge, generate ideas, and pool talents and perspectives.

But how do we maximize these effects? That’s a question technology will increasingly answer. New tools are emerging to measure human connections and spatial behaviour and how they relate to productivity and creativity. That will inform how workplaces are organized.

Historically, buildings have been rigid and uncompromising – more like corsets than t-shirts. Increasingly we will design buildings and digitally integrated furniture that evolve and respond to how people use them, rather than requiring humans to adapt to them.

carlo-ratti

Do you think cities of 2030 will look dramatically different from today’s?

I think that what will change most radically by 2030 will be our way of living in cities: how we work, move, buy, meet, mate, and so on.

Consider mobility: cars are becoming computers on wheels, capable of driving themselves; data analytics is enabling smarter real-time management of traffic; and, with the rise of the sharing economy, people are increasingly thinking of cars as something they don’t need to own. Recently at MIT we studied mobility demand in Singapore, and found that it could be met with 30% of the vehicles currently in circulation.

In theory, this number could be cut by another 40% if passengers traveling similar routes at the same time were willing to share a vehicle. This implies a city in which we could travel on demand with just one-fifth of the number of cars in use today. Among other benefits, that would free up large swaths of parking areas for other uses.

image-statista-2

Image: Statista

What roadblocks stand in the way and who are the key players in overcoming them?

There are roles for governments, the private sector, and citizens alike. For example, the reductions in car numbers I just envisaged are only theoretical – they depend on people’s willingness to share rides, and to adopt self-driving technology. We can easily also imagine a nightmare scenario, in which cars become cheaper, more and more people buy them instead of using mass transport, and cities become even more congested by 2030.

Like the beginning of the internet, today’s beginning of the Internet of Things will require a lot of trial and error. The safety and security of the systems we are building is one crucial factor – we are all familiar with viruses crashing our computers, but what if the same virus crashes our cars? We will need innovators and regulators to work closely together, with regulation closely following technical progress and fixing the problems that will surely emerge.

The WEF: Have you read?

 

Advertisements

16 events that will shape 2017

AMEinfo came up with this formidable vision of next year titled 16 events that will shape 2017; we could not help but reproduce it here all for the benefit of our readers.  All comments are welcome but we would advise to address direct to AMEinfo with nevertheless a copy to MENA-Forum.  

AMEinfo, is a well known and reliable middle east online medium of information.

Historically as per Wikipedia, AMEinfo.com was initially Arabian Modern Equipment Est., incorporated in Abu Dhabi, in February 1993 by Saif Al-Suwaidi and Klaus Lovgreen. The first version of the AME Info CD-ROM database of 125,000 companies was developed and compiled late 1996 and sold some 10,000 copies.  

The listing of the events as proposed by AMEinfo summed up thus.

  •  Many events of 2016 will have repercussions spilling over into 2017
  •  Positive impacts include Saudi Vision 2030, OPEC deal
  •  The fallout of Trump’s presidency, JASTA law, Italy referendum, etc. remain to be seen

The year 2016 was eventful, to say the least, with the world shaken by several momentous events whose repercussions will spill over into 2017.

Here are 16 events of 2016 that will most probably shape the coming year:

 

Saudi Vision 2030

This vision, announced in April, is one of the top economic highlights of 2016. Its repercussions are yet to be experienced throughout 2017 and beyond. Some of the biggest follow ups to this event are the Saudi Aramco IPO, expected to take place in 2018, privatising Football Clubs in the kingdom and its green card plan.

 

Trump as president of the United States

President-elect Donald Trump filling posts for his administration, getting ready to officially take office in January. This is when his foreign policy is expected to take its final shape and impact the whole world, starting with countries of the Americas, passing through Europe and the Middle East and reaching Asia.  

(Donald Trump wins US elections 2016: What it means for MENA)

 

Brexit

The United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union last June through a national referendum. Since then, the country underwent several months of economic chaos that it tried to keep under control, especially because it had not yet left the European Union. The chaos is expected to continue until the announcement of an exit plan, expected in March 2017.  

(Brexit: Who’s next?)

 

JASTA

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act is a law passed by the United States Congress, allowing survivors and relatives of victims of terrorist attacks to pursue cases against foreign governments in the US federal court. The bill raised tensions with Saudi Arabia – when the bill was introduced, Saudi Arabia threatened to sell up to $750 billion in United States Treasury securities and other US assets if the bill is passed. Saudi Arabia is still lobbying the US over the law.

 

Egypt’s floating of the pound

Egypt’s central bank floated the pound currency in November, devaluing by 32.3 percent to an initial guidance level of EGP 13 to the dollar and hiking interest rates by three per cent to rebalance currency markets following weeks of turbulence. According to many observers, Egypt’s floating of its currency comes in a bid to attract more investors to the country.

 

China’s AIIB development bank

China launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a new international development bank, seen as a rival to the current, US-led World Bank. Countries such as Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Philippines and South Korea agreed to join the AIIB, recognising China’s growing economic strength.

 

Google Alphabet

Last August, Google announced creating a new public holding company, Alphabet. Alphabet become the mother of a collection of companies, including Google, which includes the search engine, YouTube and other apps; Google X, the Alphabet arm working on big breakthroughs in the industry; Google Capital, the investment arm; as well as Fiber, Calcio, Nest  and Google Ventures.

 

Panama papers leak

Roughly 11.5 million documents were leaked in April, detailing financial and attorney-client information for hundreds of thousands of offshore entities. The documents contained personal financial information about famous, wealthy individuals and public officials.

The documents were created by a law firm in Panama, with some dating back to the 1970s.

 

Iran nuclear deal: lifting of sanctions

Although the framework of this agreement was announced in 2015, economic sanctions started to lift only in January 2016. The year saw the beginning of Iran’s return to international markets and more is expected for 2017 as the country has not yet made a full comeback.

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones, released this year, started to heat up and explode, causing some injuries in different markets around the world and killing the model altogether. This created massive chaos for the South-Korean manufacturer, which withdrew all units from the markets and started a gruelling investigation into the rootcause of the issue.

 

King Salman bin Abdel Aziz Bridge

Last April, Saudi Arabia and Egypt agreed to build a bridge over the Red Sea, linking the two countries together. This was seen as a historic move highlighting the excellent relationship between the allies. The bridge would be called “King Salman bin Abdel Aziz Bridge”.

 

OPEC deal

Members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC members as well, reached their first deal since 2001, to curb levels of oil output to ease a global glut after oversupply pressured prices for more than two years. Long-term market reactions to the deal are yet to be felt and will probably be seen throughout 2017.

 

Pokémon Go

The new augmented reality game, developed by Niantic, quickly became a global phenomenon and was one of the most profitable apps of 2016, with more than 500 million downloads worldwide.

 

Italy referendum

Italy’s government, led by then-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, held a nation-wide referendum proposing reforms and amendments to the country’s constitution. The referendum failed, leading to the resignation of Renzi, tipping the country into potential political turmoil and the rise of the populist, right-wing movement in the country.

Renzi’s resignation and the country’s instability also brought up concerns over a looming banking crisis in Italy, the third-largest national economy in the euro zone.

(Italy referendum: Step 1 to another Brexit?)

 

Fed raises interest rates

The US Federal Reserve raised interest rates, signalling a faster pace of increases in 2017, with central banks adapting to the incoming of a Donald Trump administration, which has promised to cut tax. The year 2017 will probably see the repercussion of that decision.

 

Turkey’s coup

A coup d’état was attempted in Turkey in July against state organisations including the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The failed coup was carried out by a faction of Turkey’s armed forces, who attempted to seize control of several areas in the capital of Ankara, Istanbul and elsewhere.

The coup, and other terrorist attacks, disturbed Turkey’s peace and stability and harmed its tourism industry, among others.