Future Smart Cities: cleaner, greener places for people to live
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has heightened the need to ensure proper planning for the future of our cities in order to achieve a ‘green recovery’. This was the view of a panel of experts speaking at the latest PRCA Built Environment Group event on November 3rd.
Our experts were:
- Dr Steve Melia – Senior Lecturer for Transport and Planning at the University of West England
- Cllr Clyde Loakes – Deputy Leader at the Waltham Forest Council
- Jamie Gordon – Director of Infrastructure and Energy at BECG
Throughout the extensive discussion, our guests shared their views and experiences on the relationship between transport and the built environment, the sustainability of our current modes of transport, the imperative to move to a net zero future and the ways in which national and local politicians can impact the agenda.
It was noted early on that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a great impact on the world of transport. Cities with high density populations rely on high capacity public transport to be readily available. However, the pandemic has thrown into doubt the future of public transport and this could lead to private vehicle growth if deliberate action isn’t taken to prevent this. Cllr Clyde Loakes said:
It’s about redefining car ownership and encouraging walking and cycling for short trips. Our ability as local politicians to contain the growth of traffic in our local areas has become an engine for providing better air quality and also providing space for our highstreets to improve economically.
In a nod to the future, Dr Steve Melia stated that focus must be aimed at encouraging people to walk more and concentrate on building locally. While a very real scenario is that the Covid-19 pandemic will take longer to resolve than feared, detering the population from using public transport. Therefore, enforcing policies that encourage the reduction of car ownership and promote shared lifts will provide the biggest benefits.
Jamie Gordon pointed towards the imperative role that data will play when it comes to truly innovating in our cities and integrating transport and energy systems to become ‘smart’. The panellists agreed that central control of data, along with the ability for cities to both store and share data, and therefore energy, in an effective way will be key to cities achieving their net zero goals.
To stay up to date with all BECG news, you can subscribe here.