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What Could Cities of the Future Look Like?

Cities of the future
(Image: Getty Images)

Every now and then it’s nice to look at the world around us and imagine what it could be like in the future! Let’s take a quick look at how some cities around the world, big and small, are using science and technology to enhance quality of life for their citizens. The intersection of science, technology, and urban planning is responsible for many of life's commodities like highways, power grids, sanitation services and beyond. As technology and our population grows, so will our needs. This is why scientists are spending a lot of time asking today's big question: What could cities of the future look like? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to learn more.

Since we have not quite figured out how to harness time travel, we're going to need to reference cutting edge designs and use our imaginations to see how ideas could turn into realities. There are too many awesome new achievements in science to explore every single one, but here's a collection of some really interesting ideas that cities are trying right now which could potentially become common everywhere in the future.

Issues ranging from climate change to phycology of citizens and mass transit's impact on economy are all factored in when approaching planning in urban areas. Currently there are 7.6 billion people on Earth and rising. How we provide food, shelter, education, entertainment, safety, and transportation are all very huge topics that scientists and urban planners face every single day.

Here are some cool ideas that planners and scientists are trying out right now to help enhance the quality of life for their many citizens.

Los Angeles is home to over 13 million people and at night they all need lights! LA is retrofitting 4,500 miles of old street lamps with new LED lights. Looking ahead, city planners also want to be able to control the lighting to be brighter when pedestrians are walking by and dim when there isn’t traffic to save on costs and minimize light pollution. This is a big issue because light pollution is not only causing problems for many species we rely on for ecological services, but it's starting to impact human health as well. These ideas could help humanity be safe during darker times without negatively impacting entire communities of humans or ecosystems full of species.

Way over in the Netherlands, the small town of Eindhoven is literally taking things to the next level for bike commuters. In an effort to increase bike riders and their safety, Eindhoven has constructed elevated bike lanes to safely let bikers ride above the traffic! Heat trapping gases from vehicles are helping break global records for our planet's rising temperatures. Simultaneously, many humans living in urban areas are unhealthy and aerobic exercise like bike riding could not only lower heat trapping gas emissions, but would also help boost a region's health standards

Some places face traffic problems, but others face sanitation issues. Mecca in Saudi Arabia has invested $20 billion to address their waste problem. A series of pneumatic tubes can now take trash from street level cans through a network of tubes at 40 mph and ultimately deliver trash to a processing plant over a mile away!  Sanitation is a major issue in places experiencing population booms. If successful, this technology could revolutionize how the growing number of our planet's megacities approach sanitation standards.

Lastly, Medellin in Columbia is using design principles to elevate the psychological aspects of low income life. Citizens with a higher income can often create the situations they need, plan the vacations they need, and certainly enjoy the city they live in for the many amenities it has to offer. The  inequality of wealth has created several barriers to access for lower income citizens to enjoy the amenities of a region. Not any more! The government in Medellin has decided to invest in the happiness of its people and ensure a system by which lower income residents have access to public spaces and mass transit. Beautifully designed cable cars connect poorer neighborhoods to the city center and link up at newly constructed city parks to make everyone feel like they’re a part of the city regardless of income.

While Rosie the robot is still a ways away, thanks to science and technology we can get a glimpse at the future by looking at these innovative urban design plans and of course rumbas, people. The future is upon us!!

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