Cities are the most complex objects that man created. They can’t be treated simply as products. This is why, in the world of tomorrow, no city will be designed or managed without the help of virtual worlds. Two main factors will define the future of our society and our cities. The first is that we are shifting from a “product” economy to an “experience” economy, where a product’s real value comes from how we use it. We can see this happening in the automotive industry that no longer just make cars but imagines new ways of using transport, working hand-in-hand with cities, retailers and citizens. 3D technology plays a transformational role in this new era. The second perspective is that we must invent a world based on harmonising products, nature and life.
By 2025, India will have about 70 cities with a population of more than one million each, according to recent estimates. The output of Indian cities will come to resemble that of cities in middle-income nations. In other words, most of what we do and what we imagine throughout the world will be concentrated in these urban environments. This is where our future will be played out.
And this will certainly involve virtual universes and collaborative platforms. The real virtue of digital technology lies not so much in the possibilities it brings for optimising production as in the scope it offers for inventing radically new business territories and ways of living. Advanced innovation and collaboration platforms bring together great minds, ideas, solutions and information. For more than 30 years, we have been pushing the boundaries of how complexity is managed with digital models and simulation, from aircraft and production systems to the human heart.
Today, we’re applying this same knowhow to the challenge of our cities. Major shifts like the emergence of “smart products” and 3D printing will also have a huge impact on the world economy and society: they will converge in cities of the future that will boast and connect intelligent systems.
This is the time when dreams like Smart Cities, initiated by the Indian government, would come to fruition to offer a solution combining sound infrastructure and an improved quality of life.
This breakthrough is set to revolutionise all aspects of the way cities are developed and managed, including urban services, infrastructure, security and natural disaster mitigation. Dynamic digital models of cities (based on a huge set of geometric, topological, demographic, climatic and other data) make it possible to simulate scenarios and create experiences in order to find sustainable solutions to all these challenges. Fundamentally, it’s also a collaborative platform where citizens, companies, researchers and government can interact. In other words, it’s a real social experience that fosters dialogue and in turn contributes to citizenship.
In the age of experience, digital heritage is becoming a strategic competitive advantage for cities. There is tremendous potential in India to build an effective ecosystem to enable its expanding urban areas to become smart and sustainable by using digital technology.
The author Bernard Charles is vice chairman & CEO, Dassault Systemes