Smart buildings and smart cities, a burden or opportunity?

How we can turn the still largely theoretical concept of smart cities as an urban and architectural vision that combines economy, ecology and technology, into a reality. This was the topic of a virtual roundtable discussion hosted by Drees & Sommer where a panel of regional experts shared their perspectives on the development of smart buildings and cities.

During a virtual roundtable hosted by Drees & Sommer on the topic of smart buildings and cities, panelist Andy Shaw, Managing Partner of design studio AMA, said: “My take on it is that there are two sides to the ledger: burdens and benefits. On the benefits side you can get higher efficiency out of your building, better utilisation of resources, lower energy use and improved wellbeing for citizens including cleaner air, more efficient traffic management and better access to health services, travel and education. These are all very practical elements you can measure, but on the burdens side it’s more complex with important philosophical and ethical considerations like privacy and the risk of commoditising citizens. As architecture originates from human needs - and on a larger scale the improvement of society- there are important questions around who owns the data that’s generated, who you can trust to manage and use the data, and what role governments should play in the control and governance of smart cities. These ethical issues need to be resolved while technology keeps developing.”

Is it just technology that’s evolving or will requirements for physical space change as well? From a developer’s perspective, we see the need to build communities and not just serve individuals which is especially true for master planning, with spaces that are people centric and designed to bring people together. This calls for a mixture of technology and architectural based design; using technology to enhance the sense of community in a building or city.