5Smart and Sustainable?: The Future of ‘Future Cities’

Tim Dixon

5.1 Introduction

We live in the age of the city. A majority of the world’s population (3.9 billion or 54%) lives in cities and this is set to grow to 66% by 2050. Much of this growth is occurring in developing countries and through the increasing number of mega‐cities (or cities of more than 10 million). On the one hand this unprecedented urban growth presents us with huge opportunities because cities can act as vibrant hubs of innovation, enterprise and jobs growth, and as places which create economies of scale in technology deployment. On the other hand, but it can also present us with substantial challenges because as urbanisation continues rapidly it creates more greenhouse gas emissions, depletes resources, consumes more energy and can create socio‐economic polarisation (Dixon, 2015).

Today therefore, more than ever, there is a strong practice and policy focus on cities, not only in the UK, but internationally as well. In the UK, for example, we have seen the emergence over the last few years of the UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Smart Cities initiative, the UK government’s funding of the Future Cities Catapult (one of a number of centres designed to transform the UK’s capability for innovation in specific areas and help drive future economic growth) and the UK Government Office for Science Future Cities Foresight programme, and we have also seen an increasing policy focus on providing ...

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