This article was originally posted on the Tech City UK website.

Future Cities will be Living, Reactive and think for Themselves” – Why we should take note.


We are experiencing an unprecedented era in the history of urbanisation. How we manage the pace of urban growth will be one of the defining challenges of the 21st Century.

The Future Cities Summit, organised by RE.WORK, brings together the most influential technologists, entrepreneurs, academics, business leaders and Government officials to collaborate and reshape our future cities. Attendees of the summit will gain insights into breakthrough innovations that will have an impact on creating sustainable, intelligent and efficient future cities.

The summit will take place at The Crystal, a sustainable cities initiative by Siemens, and one of the world’s greenest buildings. Speakers will present on a wide range of emerging technologies that will shape urban infrastructure, transport methods, energy systems, mobility, architecture and local communities.

The 40+ speakers at the event includes exciting new entrepreneurs, leading technologists and engineers, and world-class researchers.

RE.WORK founder, Nikita Johnson takes a look at topics covered at the upcoming summit.


Mobile Robots & Pocket Drones

Mobile robots are an increasingly practical proposition for deployment in urban environments. Paul Beardsley, Principal Research Scientist at Disney Research Zurich, will demonstrate progress in deploying mobile robots and robot-human interaction. Robotics are infiltrating our lives to provide more energy efficient homes, more advanced search and rescue missions and additional education sources in schools. As we enter further into a machine world, how can we ensure robots are integrated into society? Paul will explore the social integration of entertainment robotics and autonomous robots that can be used for scanning the 3D geometry and appearance of an environment. The goal of the TU Delft micro aerial vehicle lab is to bring drones straight to your pocket. They envision a future where everybody will have their personal drone and use it in daily life, and pocket drones will be as normal as smartphones are today. The lab is home to flapping wing vehicles, hybrid aerial vehicles and the smallest open source autopilot in the world, a 2×2 cm device. Bart Remes, Project Manager, Micro Aerial Vehicle Lab, TU Delft, will discuss the future of drones as a personal device, and attendees will see a live demonstration of the pocket drone.


Bioinspired Technology

New technologies in synthetic biology and genetics give us the possibility to re-think and re-work our cities. The Genetic Barcelona Project applies genetics in architecture, from two perspectives: the real, natural and direct working with geneticists, and the metaphorical, artificial and digital using technology. Alberto T. Estévez, director of the Genetic Barcelona Project, will speak at the summit on how designers and architects can take the advantages of nature to create better cities for the future. Marco Poletto and Claudia Pasquero, founders of ecoLogicStudio, research bio-mimetic models of self-organisation to develop adaptive urban planning strategies, and investigate the integration of biotechnological and digital communication systems for re-metabolising the urban fabric. At the Future Cities Summit, Marco and Claudia will introduce how social insects like ants can become valuable models of bottom up and adaptive design of new urban agriculture networks, and how urban microalgae can be grown in a new breed of digitally augmented “cyber-gardens”.


Responsive & Interactive Design

Usman Haque is the founder of Umbrellium: a team of architects, designers, commercial experts, producers and creative technologists with years of experience in designing and deploying award-winning participatory platforms. Usman states the “smart city” approach suggests we simply need appropriate and accurate monitoring equipment to reveal all the intricacies and complexities of a finite and knowable universe. Yet, cities are what Russell Ackoff might call a “mess”. Every issue interrelates to and interacts with every other issue; there is no clear “solution”; there are no universal objective parameters; and sometimes those working on problems are actually the ones who are causing them. Urban data isn’t simply discovered, it is invented, manipulated and crafted; and cities aren’t ‘solved’, they are created through the actions, motivations and decisions of their citizens. Usman will explore what is “smartness” in this context.


Big Urban Data

Every day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, phone GPS signals – to name a few. Cities and urban environments are the main sources for big data, as an increasing amount of the data shared and collected is geolocated, which is creating big data that helps us better understand our cities and shape them for the future. Andy Hudson-Smith, Director of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London, will speak at the summit to explore systems such as The City Dashboard and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) in terms of data collection, visualization and analysis. Data collection and analysis in urban environments are also utilised by Change London, a non-profit that is working to create a nationwide network of air-quality monitors in the UK. Their largest current project is AirSensa – the most detailed air quality monitoring sensor and data platform in the world. Jonathan Steel, CEO of Change London, has created a new model for the technology-enabled not-for-profit organisation, which is helping to improve health, liveability, and economic outcomes for urban centres.


Sustainable Energy

The UN says “Mobile phones are the biggest contributor to economic growth in off-grid rural populations”, but keeping a phone charged when off-grid can be difficult and expensive. At the Future Cities Summit Daniel Becerra, Managing Director at Buffalo Grid, will discuss how Buffalo Grid has created a reliable, affordable way to deliver power to off-grid communities – using clean solar power, no less. This ability to charge phones cheaply and locally is an easy solution to bringing remote, rural villages into the information age. The phones and network infrastructure already exist; what is needed is a way to power them. Buffalo Grid can also be used to provide power for a range of vital uses from medical to educational applications, bringing economic growth to rural communities around the world. 

View the full agenda and speaker lineup for the RE.WORK Future Cities Summit on 4-5 December. Use the Tech City UK discount code: TC20 for 20% off tickets.

Data Analytics & Cybersecurity, London, Healthtech & Biotech