A Day in the Life of a Connected City

Technology is rewiring our global infrastructure, often in ways invisible to the naked eye. Two early adopters building connected cities show us what this means for our routines right now — and how it will shape our collective future.
Connectivity means different things to different people. To one person, it still means a conversation over a cup of coffee, a firm handshake, a spark in one’s eye. To another, it means instant messaging with a friend in India while they play the newest video game or Snapchat. Increasingly, meeting “IRL” isn’t required to have a connection.

Most of the time, though, connectivity remains at its most powerful when it combines both interpretations — an intersection of the virtual and the physical. In a city, this means tying big data together with the beating heart of cultural identity to create a more efficient, enjoyable and sustainable place to live, work and play.


The amount of electricity savings thanks to sensors that control lighting and other home systems

Take Copenhagen. Its physical location on the trade-route crossroads between the North and Baltic seas has made it a strategic connector for over 900 years. Today the city uses technology to continually innovate the way it connects with its citizens. With a goal of becoming the world’s first CO2-neutral capital by 2025, Copenhagen has mastered the art of balancing efficiency with quality and equality, a mash-up that makes it — and all of Denmark — world-famous for a high standard of living.


The percentage of Copenhagen residents who commute by bike every day

On an even more micro level is the city of Aarhus, just three hours west of Copenhagen. Denmark’s second-largest city, it was named the European Capital of Culture and the European Region of Gastronomy for 2017 — a pair of distinctions no other city has earned in the same year. It’s no surprise that a city so invested in the quality of life of its residents is on the leading edge of the connected cities movement that will soon span the globe.

Here’s a glimpse at our connected future — over the course of a single day in these two dynamic cities.

6 A.M.


The Iceberg’s glass balcony walls — which gradually transition from dark aqua to clear as they move upstairs – maximize views of Aarhus and the sea.

Climbing out of bed comes a bit more easily when window shades open automatically and lights turn on and brighten gradually. Such automated features are, perhaps at the most personal level, why intelligent homes are integral to a connected city. Using sensors for lighting, heating/cooling and other systems ensures that energy and other resources are used wisely, too, ultimately contributing to collective sustainability goals. In fact, sensors that control lighting, detect your presence in a room and adjust window shades can help homes save upwards of 60 percent in electricity costs, 45 percent in cooling costs and 25 percent in heating costs.


8:30 A.M.


Fifty percent of Copenhageners commute by bike every day, and the city’s Dronning Louises Bro, or Queen Louise’s Bridge, is said to be the busiest spot for bicycles in the Western world. A bike counter on the bridge calculates daily traffic in real time; it provided data that recently drove the city to widen the bike lanes there. City planners in Aarhus have tried something else: attaching RFID (radio frequency identification) tags to bikes. The tags trigger sensors that turn traffic lights green — with the hope that riders never stop at a single red light on their way to and from work or school.


9:15 A.M.


From left to right, project managers Toni Rubio Soler and Tina Lund Højgaard discuss the ReGen Villages residential project with architects Sinus Lynge and Alexis Anderson at the EFFEKT Architects offices in Copenhagen

As with homes, sensors at the workplace adjust light and heating/cooling levels. They can also help buildings adjust to your circadian rhythms (the “body clock” regulating your daily routine), boosting productivity and creativity. At the offices of Copenhagen architectural firm EFFEKT, work on several projects focuses on a different routine entirely: regeneration. Their concepts for new residential developments such as ReGen Villages in the Netherlands (founded by James Ehrlich, a senior technologist at Stanford University and entrepreneur in residence at the Stanford Peace Innovation Lab) and Helsinge Garden City in Denmark bring residents together in producing their own energy and growing their own crops, among other sustainability initiatives. These Internet of Things (IoT)-connected “eco-villages” may someday even sell surplus energy to neighboring homes.

11 A.M.


Sensors fill the Grundfos Dormitory in Aarhus in an effort to maximize building efficiency.

The 12-story Grundfos Dormitory is home to 200 students — and nearly 2,000 sensors. As the students study, socialize and even sleep, those sensors are gathering data that documents their daily routines along with how the dorm’s systems are performing. It’s not about getting too personal — it’s about learning the best ways to minimize the water and energy students use while maximizing the building’s performance.



12:30 P.M.


Copenhageners and visitors alike flock to Copenhagen Street Food on the city’s harborfront.

It’s easy to peek at the daily specials before even arriving at Copenhagen Street Food, where 39 food stalls, trucks and containers — serving everything from smørrebrød (open-faced rye sandwiches popular in Denmark) to Colombian empanadas — connect with customers via social channels such as Facebook and Instagram. Even though the popular hangout sits on the harbor’s Papirøen, or Paper Island, hopping online is a cinch using one of the city’s countless free Wi-Fi hotspots.




Read on about the second half of the day here: A Day in the Life of a Connected City. 



Source: FedEx Access, http://access.van.fedex.com/day-life-connected-city/