How will the future city look like? It's not that hard to give an accurate answer to that question if you are familiar with the latest research in the field of urban digitalization. Yet it's still not easy to pinpoint every aspect contributing to the successful digital transformation.
"A city is like an organism. The functions of the individuals who create sustainable economic value are the key factors when deciding on how a city should operate. AI CITY is a bold attempt to interconnect every part of the city's 'body'through the means of the digitalization – enable seamless digit transmission, and build up an organic living entity for the residents to maximize their productivity as well as their living experience," said Victor Ai, founder and CEO of Terminus Group, at the urban tech forum held by Terminus Group in southwest China's Chongqing city.
Terminus Group's AI CITY, the world's first urban digitization pilot project, is currently being under construction in Chongqing. Launched in April this year, the campus-style project follows its mission to create an area maximizing residents' effectiveness through the digital interconnection and data utilization. Aiming to utilize AI CITY's digital ecosystem, Terminus Group partnered with over 40 tech companies from China and aboard on this forum to bring the most leading-edge innovations and digital technologies to the region. The tech alliance includes digit system providers, AI labs, producers of consumer goods, live-streaming platforms and manufacturers of tech devices.
"The era of the AI CITY is coming. The grain of the city is becoming smaller and smaller, and the individual functions become intertwined. Multiple activities can occur in all kinds of spaces because of digital technology, therefore becoming merged physically and digitally. We need to find a way of designing cities which will maximize the effectiveness for people, rather than necessarily large organizations alone, as they were in the past," said Dennis Frenchman, professor of Urban Design and Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and senior partner at Tekuma Frenchman urban design studio. Tekuma Frenchman is an incubator for future city innovation using design thinking to empower people to solve complex challenges for cities and improve the quality of life. Through cutting-edge research emerging from MIT, it aims to reshape 21st century cities where innovation and the digital economy thrives.
According to Frenchman, 20th-century cities were planned in a way enabling the segmentation of spaces depending on their functional purposes. Every space and every building were designed with economic thought in mind. However, the purpose that today's cities serve far exceed just social gatherings. Public spaces, with the mixed function areas, now have the potential to unleash people's productivity because of digital technologies.
The world's first AI CITY pilot project in Chongqing is now becoming a witness of this great transformation. The AI CITY features an unprecedented urban digital environment, including the application of "OTA" in the city for the first time. "OTA", stating for "Over-The-Air Technology", enabling the city to evolve or upgrade naturally on its own. The software of Terminus Group's AI CITY, leveraged by the OTA solutions, will now be able to answer the users' personalized requests flexibly and instantly, offering tailor-made, complete systematic solutions.
Digital technologies nowadays allow us to have a much finer grained orientation and use of time, which affects the rapid changes in production, knowledge accumulation, and nature protection. Everything has changed including the way we produce objects and complex mechanized machines, and other things we do in order to live. In a nutshell, what has happened is that all production became ultimately disaggregated down to the level of the individual.
"The production is returning to cities. In fact, it already returned – there are estimates that 30% of all production occurs in the home," Frenchman summarized at the forum, adding that as knowledge and information multiply at a crazy speed, and our abilities to interact with it, and the channels and ways we have to "interact with this knowledge" are also multiplying. The trend is that for all these information exchange to be happening through the physical environment – the city. The AI CITY therefore will meet the demand of turning the physical environment into a digital one.
"On a day-to-day basis, we don't have to be tied into these devices anymore. The AI devices will surround us. In the walls, in the furniture and objects that we use, the walls can actually 'speak'," said Frenchman.