12 trends that will shape the future of cities until 2030

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A recent study by Deloitte points out trends to transform cities after COVID-19. The survey listened to experts from around the world, including representatives from the World Bank, United Nations, European Commission and World Economic Forum, to reach the main changes that will mark urban spaces in the next decade, pointing to a greener, digital and inclusive society .

A new study by Deloitte Global on urban transformation identifies 12 trends that mark the future of cities on the way to becoming sustainable, resilient and prosperous in a post-COVID scenario. The research work was led by the Deloitte Portugal team, specialized in the themes of cities and local governments.

The study “Urban Future with a Purpose: 12 Trends Marking the Future of Cities by 2030” identifies how cities can use these trends as a guide to rebuild themselves, leveraging technology and innovation as tools to achieve this.

The survey was conducted using 15 interviews with experts from different fields, including city leaders in various regions of the globe, leaders of international organizations, public policy institutions, urban planners and researchers. Among the Portuguese Municipalities, the participation of Cascais and Porto stands out.

While the pandemic has had a severe impact on urban life – from social distance and periods of confinement to local economies – cities remain well positioned to respond to the crisis and set the rules for restoring living, humane communities. The study argues that, through their infrastructure and growth potential, combined with their human capital, urban centers will be able to drive the necessary change to create a greener, digital and inclusive society of the future.

“These 12 trends, the result of a pioneering study coordinated entirely by the Deloitte Portugal team, set the stage for a resilient and sustainable urban future”, says Miguel Eiras Antunes, Global Leader of Smart Cities at Deloitte. “The findings of this study can help governments develop their urban transformation strategies, but also balance short-term pressures with longer-term needs,” he adds.
night view of an avenue between city buildings


Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

Discussions with researchers, policy makers, heads of international organizations, technology companies and city leaders allowed us to reach the 12 trends that include:

1. Green planning of public spaces
Cities are being planned and designed for people, with “green” streets and public spaces as centers of sociability.

2. 15-minute citiesUrban planners tend to design neighborhoods where most services are within 15 minutes of walking or cycling.

3. Inclusive services and planning
Local governments seek inclusive approaches and services that ensure participation, access to housing and equal opportunities for all citizens.

4. Smart health communities
Cities are developing health ecosystems that focus not only on diagnosing and treating disease, but also supporting well-being through early intervention and prevention.

5. Mobility: smart, sustainable and “as-a-service”
With more spaces for walking and more bike paths, cities are working to offer digital, clean, smart, autonomous and intermodal mobility.

6. Digital innovation ecosystems
Cities attract talent, stimulate creativity and disruptive thinking, and thrive on the benefits of ecosystems of innovation.

7. Circular economy and local production
Cities are adopting circular models based on a healthy circulation of resources and the principles of sharing, reuse and restoration.

8. Mass Participation
Citizen-centric and designed by and for them, cities promote mass participation (from academia, companies and associations) and in a collaborative way.

9. Cybersecurity and privacy awareness
To address growing cyber risks and privacy issues, cities are creating robust cybersecurity strategies and policies.

10. Smart and sustainable buildings and infrastructure
By leveraging digital technologies, cities can use data to optimize energy consumption and resource use in buildings and infrastructure.

11. Artificial intelligence applied to city operations
Using artificial intelligence, technological infrastructures can support cities in automating operations, creating efficiencies, solving problems and offering better services.

12. Artificial intelligence applied to surveillance and predictive policing
Cities aim to carefully take advantage of technology to ensure public safety, while respecting citizens' freedoms.

The 12 trends were developed based on research by the Deloitte team and interviews conducted with various experts, namely: Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown; Kirby Brady, Chief Innovation Officer of the City of San Diego; Uwe Brandes, Faculty Director, Global Cities Initiative, Georgetown University.

Also: Sandy Carter, Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector Partnerships and Programs at Amazon Web Services; Markus Elkatsha, Urban Planner at the MIT Media Lab; Kent Larson, Director of the City Science group at the MIT Media Lab; Jukka Mäkelä, Mayor of Espoo, among others.

Deloitte has a development area oriented towards the theme of Smart Cities and Urban Transformation, with the aim of providing up-to-date ideas on how cities can use advanced digital technologies to address key issues such as mobility, data and sustainability.
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