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Smart cities

Technologies are developing to a point where they integrate ever more seamlessly into our lives. But human/technology interaction doesn’t often happen naturally – it’s a result of good design. And design, so often, is just as much about what you take out as what you put in.

“The best interface is no interface,” said Donald A Norman in the book, The Art of Human-Computer Design. He continues: “The real problem with the interface is that it is an interface. Interfaces get in the way. I don’t want to focus my energies on an interface. I want to focus on the job…I don’t want to think of myself as using a computer, I want to think of myself as doing my job.”

Nowadays, computers are all around us and embedded into all sorts of computer appliances. The growth of wireless technology (wifi) and superfast mobile broadband have led some futurologists to herald the era of an Internet of Things…where all those devices are linked together. Others have gone further to predict that data collected about localised environments could be taken from all these devices and processed to automatically delivery services to citizens based on local experience, such as temperature control in building complexes, or public transit frequency to specific destinations as and when needed. This idea is encapsulated by the smart city concept: the future of cities, with devices collecting and sharing data to make life more liveable for their human inhabitants, for example turning on air conditioning or lighting just when it is needed, and adapting to exterior changes, such as the weather.