The future of the smart city looks bright.

“We expect our city to respond to our demands at the speed of an app” says Architect Ekaterina Lichtenstein – a senior urban designer and associate at the London branch of multi-disciplinary design firm HOK. “Whether you’re ordering an Uber car, posting reviews of a restaurant on Tripadvisor, planning our journey through the city via CityMapper, or sharing resources such as living space (AirBnB) or cars (Zipcar). However, while the citizens and their expectations towards the city are changing fast, the hard matter of the city is slow to change. In our design [at HOK] we focus on how we can create spaces that respond to the new demands of the citizens.”

According to Wikipedia, the goal of building a smart city is to improve quality of life by using technology to improve the efficiency of services and meet residents’ needs. By using what is now known as Integrated Community Technology, city officials are allowed to interact directly with the community and the city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city, how the city is evolving, and how to enable a better quality of life. Through the use of sensors integrated with real-time monitoring systems, data are collected from citizens and devices – then processed and analyzed. The information and knowledge gathered are keys to tackling inefficiency.

In a recent interview on the Smart to Future Cities event blog Lichtenstein says that in the architecture and planning industry, the main point of focus is “how the smart city notion translates into the physical space of the city.” This extends to city infrastructure, street networks, public spaces, architecture, interiors and the usability of the built environment.

HOK has big plans for their clients, who are typically developers looking for affordable solutions to complex planning issues. “We are designing city masterplans with the future in mind. This involves designing for flexible landuse and space use patterns, integrating different modes of transport from the start, and providing social infrastructure, services and employment in easy reach for residents, without creating car dependencies.”

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