The city of the future
For centuries, people have moved to and lived in cities. These sprawling urban centres are places to find work, friends and fun. It's no surprise that they continue to grow as more and more people flood in hoping to make the most of the opportunities they offer but adding to the congestion and pollution that already exists.
According to a report by the United Nations, 54 per cent of the world's population lives in urban areas and it predicts that by 2050, this figure will have increased to around 70 per cent. But as more and more people migrate from the countryside to the city to get better opportunities, they can end up with nowhere to live.
This is true in places such as Rio de Janeiro, where migrants can't rent or buy a home, and they end up building their own communities and houses on unoccupied land. These are called shanty towns - poor communities where the houses are built out of cheap materials like corrugated iron and plastic sheeting - and often don't have any electricity or water supply.
These are, of course, not the megacities of the future we want to see. Some serious urban planning is needed to make our cities of the future good, safe and modern places to live in. This involves improving the infrastructure, the housing conditions and also the opportunities for education and employment.
Something urban planners are looking at now is the creation of 'smart cities'. According to John Rossant, founder and chairman of the non-profit organisation New Cities Foundation, technology is the way forward. He thinks that it's generally accepted that "cloud computing, ubiquitous internet, robust 5G networks etc, will transform our cities." He says technology is really "a game changer", in urbanisation. It would collect large amounts of data about how a city is performing and may improve how a city functions.
This may sound like a utopian view. For now, some cities and conurbations around the world are trying out more low-tech schemes to try and make them desirable places to live and work in. Building shared-ownership housing and improving public transport are some ways. And encouraging cycling and building bike lanes can keep the population healthy and cut down on smog. What would make your city a better place to live in?
a game changer