Toronto Yonge-Dundas Square

Santiago Chile announced they’re going to become a “smart city” in 2013. Santiago is just one example of a growing number of areas around the globe preparing and modernizing for the future, in fact demographers have long predicted the mass urbanization of metropolitan areas across the world. According to the United Nations, by the year 2050, 80% of the world will be living in urban areas. The equivalent of seven Manhattan size cities will be built each year until 2050. For these cities to thrive they must use smart technology to its fullest. Let’s take a look at what’s available now and what’s coming down the pipe.

1. Fuel cell technology

Fuel cells of the future will use less energy, produce much less CO2 emissions, and may even be able to generate electricity autonomously. Amsterdam, a city on the forefront of smartness, is already implementing some of these fuel-cell technologic advances as we speak.

2. Space saving folding vehicles

Smart car

Vehicle transport in futuristic smart cities will probably entail folding self driving cars. Groups in Europe have already begun implementing these folding micro transport vehicles in replacement of clunky public transport. And hey, they can drive you directly to your destination…take THAT, bus!

3. Solar energy

Lovely Loops

The future of solar technology is bright, pun intended. More and more gadgets, gizmos, and larger systems will be powered by the sun in the coming years. Solar energy will be highly diversified and simplified making it accessible and economical.

4. Thermostat

Nest theromstat

Thermostats are getting a lot of buzz with the latest and greatest temperature control gadget on the market, Nest. The smart thermostat of the future will be completely autonomous and able to make temperature corrections based on weather and living habits.

5. Wireless Charging

Electric vehicle charging station

The days of fighting over power outlets in coffee shops or airports to charge our devices will probably end with us paying a small access fee for wireless charging. The electric vehicles of the future will also have similar wireless charging mechanisms, so you might just get to kiss goodbye to plugs and cords.

6. Water recycle and conservation

Water Pollution with Trash Disposal of Waste at the Garbage Beach

Water, like electricity, will be part of the “smart grid”, and the use/waste will be highly regulated. Companies are using NASA’s space age water recycling technology to make consumer level mechanisms that we will probably be seeing in the near future which will recycle water.

7. NFC

There is more than just mobile payment solutions when we talk about NFC technology. This technology has uses in advertising, security, GPS navigation, retail, and whatever else innovative companies will dream up. Get used to NFC because it’s not going anywhere soon.

8. LED lighting

Hong Kong from the peak on a summer's night

Finding ways to cut down costs on utilities is at the forefront of building smart cities. There are currently many cities implementing LED technology to slash energy bills, and make no mistake, this technology cuts kilowatt hours like nobody’s business.

9. Vertical farming

Vertical Farms

Food will be grown in vertical farms within city limits. This food will grow every day of the year 24 hours a day. Think stackable greenhouses and you will start getting the idea of what this looks like.

10. Parking analysis

Vehicles and mobile devices will provide real-time parking maps. This technology will probably be integrated with sophisticated city grid systems that seamlessly talk to your self driving electric car to find optimal parking.

11. Charging infrastructure for vehicles

The Lights of Japan

Get ready for a gradual but massive overhaul of public electric vehicle charging availability. Infrastructure must be built because electronic vehicles will soon become the norm.

12. Facial recognition security surveillance

face recognition tech

The future smart city might not be the utopia we all hope for so cities will have to create a safer environment through ultimate surveillance systems with facial recognition technology and a plethora of security cameras.

13. Transportation sensors

A highly complex system of sensors integrated in roadways will allow traffic to be managed much more efficiently reducing congestion and fuel waste.

14. Home automation

home automation

Smart homes are those which are intimately aware of how much power they consume as well as having all appliances connected through a common interface. Smart home automation systems will be talking to each other and moderated with sophisticated software making everything more efficient.

15. Peak usage levels and smart meters

The smart grid will be tracking how much energy you use and when you use it. Plan on being given a sliding scale connected to a smart meter with the amount of money you pay for electricity increasing during peak times.

16. Healthcare technology

I reckon that within the decade, thanks to the Affordable Care Act in the U.S., your employer and the government will be tracking your healthcare decisions. If you decide to make bad choices and do something like not take your medication or smoke a cigarette you might just get a penalty in the form of an increased premium.

17. Language barrier breakdown

Current apps are able to essentially break down language barriers in many ways, for example, there are currently sophisticated applications you can use to take pictures of text in other languages and have a translation on demand. That’ll be nice in big multicultural cities.

18. High-tech bike sharing


Companies are popping up which allow members to pay access for bike use with technology installed to make the process of bike rental painless. Things like solar powered rental stations and RFID chips to tell you where available bikes are located will make bike rental very feasible.

19. Urban wind turbines

Urban wind turbines are going to be popping up more and more this year and in the coming years and as technology improves we will be more able to harness the power of the wind, even in confined urban areas.

20. Tintable smart glass

Windows will be tinted on demand so that on hot days they can be darkened to keep rooms cool, and conversely on cold days they can be clear to embrace whatever warmth the sun has, this may be a subtle way to improve the use of renewables, but it’s still awesome.