Smart House and Smart City - what innovations can be expected at home and in the city?

Key information:

  • The role of cities both socially and economically is crucial today, and it will only grow over the next few years.
  • Cities, both in Poland and around the world, are plagued by many problems such as climate change, a housing shortage, an aging population or danger on the street.
  • Solutions such as smart lighting, or smart washers bring financial and environmental benefits.
  • Smart city technologies enhance mobility and improve residents' experiences.
  • Smart House is not only smart lighting, but also other technologies that replace classic home furnishings.
  • The explosive growth of smart home solutions has raised concerns among skeptics and senior citizens.
  • Proptech and smart city technologies will be an increasingly common sight. Their use in private areas, however, will keep the manufacturers of these solutions under detailed scrutiny by the public.

Details below!

Cities today are the heart of the global economy and society. According to the World Bank, they generate more than 80% of global GDP, and their role will only increase in the coming years as a result of increasing migration. According to UN estimates, more than 68% of the world's population is expected to live in cities by 2050, a 13pc increase from 2018. In growing metropolises, apartments will take on a special role. Increasingly, they will be a peaceful and self-contained angle in a rapidly changing world.

Unfortunately, cities today face many problems, the solution to which may lie in innovations that fall into the smart house and smart city categories. What challenges do cities face today? What innovations can address them? What technologies are emerging in our homes, and what lies ahead in the years to come?

Challenges for today's cities

In today's world, regardless of location, cities face many similar problems. Such problems include, for example environmental issues and issues of social inequality.

Cities emit huge amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere and produce a lot of noise significantly affecting the health and well-being of residents. Climate change is also increasing the risk of environmental disasters, to which more than 60% cities with a population of more than 300,000 residents..

Another problem is social inequalitieswhich have further increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the biggest as well as most common social problems occurring today for people living in the city is access to affordable housing, which has been steadily deteriorating despite housing programs trying to change this.

More local problems of Polish cities are also aging population and its mobility. Many elements of today's metropolises are not adapted to the needs of the elderly. Public spaces lack accessible facilities for them in the form of low thresholds or special ramps. Problems also arise in blocks of flats, where these people, unable to use the stairs, become "prisoners of the fourth floor".

Another problem is the insufficient development of urban mobility. Residents of suburban homes face transportation exclusion caused by insufficient frequency of buses and trains, or their complete absence. There is also a lack of adequate road infrastructure, with the result that Polish streets among some of the most dangerous in Europe.

Urban innovation (Smart City)

Innovations in the operation of the city occur on different levels such as environmental, transportation, or social levels, making it impossible to describe them all. Still, it is worth paying attention to, at least some of them. During the night, evenly lighting the entire street when no one is on it is energy and financially inefficient.

This type of problem is solved by smart city lights equipped with motion sensors. By default, the lights have a weaker power setting, which is automatically increased when the sensors register an approaching person or vehicle. Thanks to this solution, the city is able not only to reduce electricity consumption, but also to save additional funds, which can be allocated to more important matters. Similar savings can be achieved with smart sprinklers, which, through numerous sensors in the ground, are able to detect when and how much plants need watering. Systems of this type are being used in the Spanish city of Barcelona, among others.

Smart city solutions also allow for the development of urban mobility. Examples of technologies pursuing this goal are smart bus stops and smart traffic lights. The former, changing the image of urban space, are equipped with interactive screens, device charging areas and WiFi points, among other features. Often, in order to increase the aesthetics of the local landscape, various greenery elements are placed on them. Smart city signaling, meanwhile, allows for increased traffic flow and reduced emissions of harmful gases into the atmosphere. This is possible by automatically registering in real time the volume of urban traffic and adjusting the lights to, as much as possible, reduce the need to stop.

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    Home Innovations (Smart House)

    Probably the first thing that comes to people's mind when hearing the phrase "Smart House" is solutions such as smart lighting or temperature control. In Western countries, people might also mention a home assistant such as the famous Alexa from Amazon. While these technologies do indeed fall into this category, home innovations have a far broader range of solutions seeking to improve the quality of life for residents.

    Such systems that increase the comfort and security of households can include, among others. smart locks and trash cans. The former, controlled by a phone, allow doors to be opened, from anywhere in the world, allowing, for example, a courier to enter a vestibule or a family member to enter an apartment. In some cases, such locks allow the use of the phone as a key that automatically unlocks the door when a person with the device approaches. Smart garbage cans, on the other hand, can be equipped with features such as self-closing bags. Innovations in residential buildings are not limited to apartments and are also occurring in common areas. As an example, it is worth mentioning shared post office boxes, where a courier can leave a letter or package. Once the parcel is put in, the tenant receives information via SMS and can pick it up at any time he chooses.

    Smart House Concerns

    The Smart House among the public raises both enthusiasm and concerns. The latter have their origins, among other things, in anxiety about what happens to the data obtained from tenants. Equipping a property with multiple technologies often involves inviting a foreign entity into one's family home. After all, third-party companies own the servers where all the information about us is maintained. This means that users are not completely sure what is actually happening to them. Equipping households with new technology also increases the potential losses in the event of a hacking attack.

    The increased use of proptech also increases the concerns of the elderly, who may not be able to handle new home technology. The world is currently seeing rapid technological advances that are difficult for retirees to keep up with. Installing new solutions in their households or retirement homes could therefore not solve the problems of the elderly only further increase them.

    What lies ahead?

    New technologies in cities and homes are becoming an increasingly common sight. This should not be surprising given the convenience they provide and the extent to which they enhance the quality of life for residents. Both cities and individual homes are becoming more efficient, bringing savings not only in the financial field, but also in the environmental or energy field. More and more people are also entering adulthood who grew up with technology and for whom it is a completely natural phenomenon.

    On the other hand, however, the growing role of technology in people's lives is raising concerns among some, which translates into the emergence of social movements choosing to give up the inconvenience it offers. The introduction of new solutions into private spaces will also raise concerns among those who want to continue enjoying their benefits. It can therefore be assumed that companies providing such solutions will find themselves in the limelight and will be watched in detail by the public.

    The future of the smart house and smart city is highly dynamic

    Behind many barriers is an ever-growing lucrative market. With the right support, it is possible to take full advantage of emerging opportunities and improve the situation of your business.

    In addition, the ConQuest Consulting team will prepare an appropriate strategy to allow the market potential to be properly exploited.

    Patryk Kocewiak

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