Happy Cities: The Future of Smart Urban Living
By Laurence Kemball-Cook, Founder and CEO, Pavegen - July 2023:
As technology advances at an unprecedented rate, the concept of smart cities has become increasingly relevant. Smart cities are essentially urban areas that are optimised for efficiency, sustainability, and liveability. In the past, the focus has been on creating cities that are smart, but going forward, the focus must shift to creating cities that are happy. In this article, we will explore the future of smart cities and the concept of happiness.
The Concept of Happiness
The concept of happiness is something that has been gaining more attention in recent years and is something that I am very passionate about. There has been a growing realisation that it is not enough to simply create efficient and sustainable cities. People want to live in cities that are happy and foster a sense of well-being.
One of the keyways that smart cities can be designed to promote happiness is by prioritising public spaces. Public spaces, such as plazas, parks, visitor centres, community centres and sports facilities, are essential for fostering a sense of community and connectedness. They provide opportunities for people to gather, socialise, and engage in activities that they enjoy. Additionally, green spaces have been shown to have a positive impact on mental health, which is crucial for creating happy cities.
Mobility is Key
Another important factor for creating happy cities is mobility. Cities need to be designed in such a way that people can move around easily and efficiently. This includes not just traditional transportation methods like cars and buses, but also alternative modes of transportation like bikes and scooters. By prioritising mobility, cities can reduce congestion and make it easier for people to access the things they need, which can contribute to a sense of happiness and well-being. The Loop in Dubai, is the perfect example of urban innovation prioritising mobility. The Loop is the mastermind of URB, who are in a mission like Pavegen to accelerate the world’s transition towards a sustainable future.
Smart Cities Designed to Promote Sustainability
Smart cities can also be designed to promote sustainability, which is essential for creating happy cities. Pavegen’s kinetic pavement technology has done that very successfully when located in high-footfall areas projects like Dupont Circle in Washington DC, or busy walkways, such as the one installed by Telford, UK on a stretch of pavement linking the train station to town centre.
Both innovative projects utilises street furniture with LED lights or smart phone charging powered by footsteps. A digital screen is conveniently situated to offer information and data. By installing Pavegen’s affectionately named ‘Bouncy Pavement’, city authorities and local politicians in Telford have connected with citizens and wider communities in ways that are admired by residents, and in so doing are more effective in encouraging individual responsibility and changes in behaviour around sustainability that local government is targeted to undertake. National and International news coverage on the day of unveiling created a huge buzz around the initiative and helped raise awareness of sustainable urban innovation in action.
The Role of Health and Wellbeing in Happiness
Sustainable cities are those that are designed to minimise their environmental impact while also ensuring that the needs of their inhabitants are met. This includes things like renewable energy sources, water conservation, biodiversity and waste reduction. By prioritising sustainability, cities can create a healthier environment for their inhabitants, which can contribute to a sense of well-being and happiness.
Another key factor for creating happy cities is technology. Smart cities are those that use technology to optimise efficiency and improve the quality of life for their inhabitants. This includes things like smart grids, which can help to manage energy usage, and smart traffic management systems, which can help to reduce congestion. Additionally, smart cities can use technology to create new opportunities for social engagement, such as online communities and virtual events.
Smart Cities Prioritise Happiness
In conclusion, the future of smart cities is one that prioritises happiness. By designing cities that prioritise public spaces, mobility, sustainability, and technology, we can create cities that are not just smart, but also happy. As we move forward, it is important to keep the concept of happiness at the forefront of our minds, and to ensure that our cities are designed in such a way that they promote health, well-being and a sense of connectedness.
Laurence Kemball-Cook is the founder and CEO of Pavegen Systems, a sustainable technology company that specializes in Kinetic Energy Flooring. With over a decade of experience in sustainability and innovation, Laurence is a leading voice in the effort to create smart, sustainable cities that prioritize the well-being and happiness of citizens.
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Case studies relating to this blog post:
Case Study 1: Kinetic Pavement Charges Smart Phones, UK
Case Study 2: Kinetic Pavement Lights Up Street Furniture, Washington D.C (YouTube Video)
Case Study 3: The Loop, Dubai Proposes 93km Kinetic Pavement
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