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How will the city of the future look like?

Big data, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), robots, drones, autonomous green vehicles, 3D / 4D printing, renewable energy, virtual reality (VR),leap motion, eye controlled technology are just part of the present and new technologies that are here or will be here in the near future to influence our lives.

The cities are evolving as well, by becoming Smart Cities. From Singapore to Amsterdam and Barcelona, from Dubai to Stockholm,from New York to Manchester and even Alba Iulia in Romania, information and communication technology is used to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to increase contact between citizens and government. Smart city applications are developed to manage urban flows and allow for real-time responses.

The smart city concept integrates information and communication technology and various physical devices connected to the network (IoT) to optimize the efficiency of city operations and services and connect to citizens. Smart city technology allows city officials to interact directly with both community and city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city and how the city is evolving.

According to the IESE Cities in Motion Index 2017, quoted by Forbes, which analyses all aspects that make up sustainability and quality of life in 180 key world cities, New York is again the smartest city in the world, followed by London and Paris.

To compile the index, the authors analyze 79 indicators across 10 different dimensions of urban life: the economy, technology, human capital, social cohesion, international outreach, the environment, mobility and transportation, urban planning, public administration and governance. The results show that almost all of the dimension measured in the ranking are led by European and North American cities. The exception is technology, where Taipei rules.

In top 10 are present three other American cities (Boston 4th, San Francisco 5th, and Washington, D.C. 6th), two other European cities (Berlin 9th and Amsterdam 10th), and two Asian (Seoul 7th and Tokyo 8th).

Moreover, according to CityMetric, Singapore is also a leading example of a smart city, and is constantly evolving its “city brain,” a backbone of technologies used to help control pollution, monitor traffic, allocate parking, communicate with citizens, and even issue traffic fines. “The behavioral aspect is not to be overlooked. Singapore’s “brain” is attempting to modify human behavior – for example, one system rewards drivers for using recommended mapped routes, and punishes those who do not. Ultimately, Singapore’s planners hope to discourage driving, and guide most commuters to making greater use of public transportation. The city is planning for 100m “smart objects” including smart traffic lights, lamp posts, sensors, and cameras on its roadways, which will be used to monitor and enforce laws,” wrote Fast Future for CityMetric.

But how will those smart cities look in the future and what can we expect from them and the specialists living and creating in them? “The number of smart cities around the world is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years and by 2050, 70 per cent of the world’s population will be living in smart cities,” believes Nick Ismail in his piece for information-age.com.

Moreover, it appears that 2030 will bring the introduction of Connected street lights, which will stream data between millions of devices and improve city services such as light, traffic, air quality, public safety and parking. Lighting technology will be at the heart of urban life in 2030 as well, helping deliver more sustainable and better-connected smart cities. “And if that wasn’t enough, by 2050 take-aways will be delivered by drones, replacing motorbikes and cars. One pizza manufacturer has already tested drone delivery and some predict these automated flying machines will fill the skies replacing the couriers of today,” adds Ismail.

Is car sharing the next version of Uber?

The carsharing or car-sharing system is a model of car rental where people rent cars for short periods of time, often by the hour. They are attractive to customers who make only occasional use of a vehicle, as well as others who would like occasional access to a vehicle of a different type than they use day-to-day.

According to Wikipedia, carsharing services are available in over 1,000 cities in several countries. As of December 2012, there were an estimated 1.7 million car-sharing members in 27 countries, including so-called peer-to-peer services, according to the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at U.C. Berkeley. Of these, 800,000 were car-sharing members in the United States.

As of July 2017, car2go is the largest carsharing company in the world with 2,500,000 registered members and a fleet of nearly 14,000 vehicles in 26 locations in North America, Europe and Asia, followed by Zipcar with 767,000 members and 11,000 vehicles. According to Navigant Consulting, global carsharing services revenue will grow to US 6.2 billion by 2020, with over 12 million members worldwide. The main factors driving the growth of carsharing are the rising levels of congestion faced by city dwellers; shifting generational mindsets about car ownership; the increasing costs of personal vehicle ownership; and a convergence of business models. Carsharing contributes to sustainable transport because it is a less car intensive means of urban transport, and according to The Economist, carsharing can reduce car ownership at an estimated rate of one rental car replacing 15 owned vehicles. More about the concept here.

In February, the car-sharing service Zipcar signed a deal to provide vehicles to Uber, possibly portending additional future cooperation in the field of mobility services. Zipcar parent Avis Budget Group said that it would supply Uber drivers with the opportunity to ferry passengers around in Zipcar branded sedans. Although at the beginning the deal is limited to 20 sedans in Boston, it opens the door for similar collaboration in other cities.

Zipcar provides rent-by-the-hour vehicles to motorists, particularly in urban areas, as an alternative to car ownership. Now, Uber drivers will be allowed to access the fleet of vehicles in Boston to serve their customers at hourly rental rates.

“As the automotive landscape evolves, technology is playing an ever-increasing role in transportation services, and we are well-positioned to meet new and evolving customer needs and demands, as evidenced by this new partnership,” said Andrew Kupiec, a vice president for Avis Budget. “Our quality, well-maintained vehicles, coupled with Zipcar’s technology, will give Uber’s driver partners wheels when they want them.”

This move marked one of the latest in a series of Uber partnerships with car providers, including rental car firms Enterprise and Hertz, and most recently  a deal with German automaker Daimler to provide self-driving cars in the future.

Moreover, last year, Uber started a partnership with GM’s Maven, representing a 90 day pilot in San Francisco that allowed the Uber drivers to lease a Chevrolet Cruze, Malibu or Trax for $179 per week (plus fees) with no mileage limit, and included insurance.  “This partnership with Maven combines our vast ridesharing network with GM’s extensive fleet vehicles and gives people without access to a car the ability to easily make money driving on the Uber platform,” said back then Rachel Holt, regional general manager Uber, for engaged.com.

Following that, in April, Uber made another important step, by launching Uber Central, similar to the consumer version of Uber, except multiple cars can be ordered at once. The service could be especially valuable for businesses that need to pick up several clients from different places at the same time. Uber Central is part of the Uber for Business platform, which Uber launched a few years ago to help businesses manage employees’ ground transportation needs.

What is even more interesting and different is that passengers don’t need an Uber account or even a smartphone. The business itself manages the rides and all related information from a single dashboard. According to ciodive.com, Uber said more than 8,000 companies participated in the pilot program. The new tool also includes reporting, billing and management features.

Uber’s interest in the sharing cars’ programs and affiliations doesn’t stop here. Only four days ago it was announced that, following the 2016’s 90 days trial with GM’s Maven, the service is available now also in Boston, Phoenix, and Washington, DC, while Baltimore and Detroit are said to be following soon.

“The program is aimed at drivers for rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft, and delivery apps like Postmates, GrubHub, and InstaCart. Someone who’s interested in driving for any of these on-demand services, but doesn’t own a vehicle, can rent a Chevy Bolt through Maven Gig for $229-a-week. The weekly price includes insurance, maintenance, and electric vehicle charging. Maven  first launched its gig worker product last May in San Diego and San Francisco. Since then, Maven says its customers have logged 170 million miles driving for various on-demand apps,” wrote The Verge.

More on the subject you can read here, while if you are interested in 8 ride and car sharing alternatives to Uber and Lyft, you can read here.

Best Cities For Young Entrepreneurs

Being an entrepreneur is never easy, either you are young and have the freshness and power to work on your side, along with initiative and courage, or a little more mature and you already know very well the market you are trying to penetrate and succeed on. Entrepreneurship brings a set of challenges for every type of business, therefore choosing the city to operate from might be one of the most important decisions one might take. NerdWallet, quoted by Inc.com, has a few suggestions. The personal finance site recently crunched through numbers from the Small Business Administration, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics among other sources to uncover  the best cities with thriving communities of educated, young entrepreneurs. Bonus points were awarded to places that were actually affordable.

  1. Austin, Texas
  2. San Francisco-Oakland, California
  3. Salt Lake City, Utah
  4. Denver, Colorado
  5. Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota
  6. Seattle, Washington
  7. Madison, Wisconsin
  8. Midland, Texas
  9. Boston, Massachusetts
  10. Fargo, North Dakota

More explanation and results can be easily found here.

Entrepreneurship is also the rare area of business where youth can be an advantage. Whereas established companies typically look for experience when they hire, a start-up business can benefit from the fresh perspectives and raw energy of younger adults. Younger people like Millennials also have less to lose in terms of an established career and salary, and so they can be more willing to put what they have at risk to create a new business. As people grow older, they tend to lose this appetite for risk.

The data is also supported by a new research from MoneyRates.com that revealed also Texas and Florida offer the best economic climates for young entrepreneurs. Seven of this year’s 10 best cities for young entrepreneurs are located in the Lone Star or Sunshine state, proving that smaller cities have a lot to offer young entrepreneurs who launch their startups outside of major hubs like San Francisco, New York and Chicago. The explication being the fact that “big cities are more likely to take entrepreneurship for granted while smaller cities typically offer incentives that make life as an entrepreneur easier and more attractive”, as Zac Carman writes for entrepreneur.com. Based on the criteria examined, MoneyRates.com named these 10 cities the best for young entrepreneurs in 2016:

  1. Austin/Round Rock, Texas

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Austin/Round Rock is the third-fastest-growing metropolitan area in the nation. Additionally, it is one of the more well-educated areas of the country, with more than one-third of its population having a bachelor degree.

  1. Raleigh, North Carolina

The city is one of the 10 fastest-growing in the U.S., and boasts the highest number for the proportion of the population with at least a bachelor’s degree.

  1. Midland, Texas

The city is the second fastest growing in the U.S. and ranks second in young adult affluence.

  1. Houston/The Woodlands/Sugar Land, Texas

Houston has a high level of young adult affluence, and benefits from Texas’ business-friendly tax policies.

  1. Crestview/Fort Walton Beach/Destin, Florida (tie)

Because this area, which has one of the highest levels of young adult affluence, is located near a junction with three major highways, it provides great opportunities for business activity. Additionally, Florida has one of the nation’s lowest business tax rates.

  1. Odessa, Texas (tie)

Odessa ranked fourth nationally in both overall growth rate and young adult affluence.

  1. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

South Dakota has the second-lightest business tax burden in the country, and Sioux Falls ranks in the top 10 nationally for young adult affluence.

  1. The Villages, Florida

Even though this is a retirement community, The Villages has the fastest growth rate of any city in the nation. This presents a lot of opportunity for businesses that cater to senior citizens.

  1. Denver/Aurora/Lakewood, Colorado

The Denver area ranks in the top 10 for educational attainment and young adult affluence. Additionally, it has a healthy growth rate.

  1. Orlando/Kissimmee/Sanford, Florida

Orlando ranks in the top 10 because of its rapid population growth and favorable business tax climate.

But what about Europe? Nesta launched in 2015 the European Digital City Index (EDCi), a ranking intended to measure how well different cities across Europe support startups and scale-ups in digital industries. Last year, as part of  Global Entrepreneurship Week, they launched the  2016 version of the EDCi, which again describes the ‘fertility’ or attractiveness of different European cities for digital entrepreneurs.

The city that leads in London, but rankings are very close, especially towards the top, with a fraction of a percentage point separating London from close contender Stockholm. Stockholm performs extremely well for its size, with superb digital infrastructure and a highly digitally skilled population; companies like Skype, Spotify, Klarna, King and Mojang are the result. The highest new entrant is Bristol, which joins the list in 13th place, and scores particularly well due to its receptive entrepreneurial culture and local business environment, while Bucharest ranks only 52 in this top 60.

 

 

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