Imagine this: The year is 2050. Cities around the world are now home to over 5 billion people; nearly the same number as inhabited the entire globe in 2016. Communities were already struggling to provide for their citizens, and sustained population growth forced an even greater massive global migration to cities.  Demand for residential, work and recreational spaces, transportation, electricity, water, food, medical and educational facilities have increased significantly. Increased pollution, congestion, and unsustainable consumption of both natural and manmade resources demand we all make changes to our behaviors and infrastructure. People from around the world must seek to understand one another’s reality and culture and learn to collaborate effectively. This is a world that requires the evolution of the Smart City.

Using ever-expanding technology to their advantage, engineers from around the world, inspired by the possibilities behind Smart Cities, have already begun small improvements. Street lights are solar-powered and triggered to turn on when pedestrians pass nearby but go out again to save energy. Phones and other handheld devices are used to adjust heating and cooling in homes when people are away, conserving money and resources. Doctors in one city are able to connect digitally to robot arms to perform surgery in another city, keeping them from having to travel around the world to share groundbreaking medical techniques. People have begun to live more communally, sharing not only their resources but also their native cultures and languages, opening their minds to new ways of life. Problem-solving now intertwines advances from one part of the world with the native knowledge and experience of people from another to produce efficient and effective results.

NOW, in 2017, it is YOUR TEAM’S CHALLENGE to investigate the concept of the Smart City and focus on one aspect of resource distribution/utilization, cultural connectedness, or community services.  Your team will present an idea for cities of the future to provide efficient, effective and inventive energy, transportation, communication, education or other key services to their citizens. If you were part of the 2016 Smart Village WAC competition, are you able to build upon your ideas and expand them from Village to City? Looking ahead to 2018, how will your Smart City help to craft a Smart Planet? Good luck. The people of Planet Earth need your help.