Here's what cities could look like in 10 years

Source: Business Insider UK on September 26, 2016 | , Chris Weller, Skye Gould and Samantha Lee

The data confirms it: Cities are the way of the future.

As the years go by, more and more people are choosing to leave behind their suburban and rural lives in search of greater urban opportunities.

To get a sense of what city life might look like in the future, Business Insider called on futurists, urban planners, and designers to weigh in on trends related to transportation, housing, automation, the Internet, the environment, and jobs.

Together, their predictions paint the world's future cities as crowded hubs that run on renewable energy and harness the Internet in every facet of daily life. Vehicles are electric, self-driving, and shared by residents.

Welcome to our urban future.

Cities will be always ready to dispense enormous amounts of data that help people and governments live and work better.

Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Google's transportation offshoot, Sidewalk Labs,has announced interest in building so-called "smart cities" — places where the Internet is baked into all aspects of the city.

In such a city, the government could ensure all citizens have access to free high-speed Internet, and it can collect huge batches of data about transportation habits and infrastructure. It'll be a real-life version ofSingapore's virtual twin city, which is just like Singapore, only completely datafied. 

People could know in real-time how busy the trains are and which restaurants are the least crowded. Self-driving cars will know at all times which routes are the fastest based on data from other vehicles on the road, similar to how Waze users alert one another.

Cities will have so much data at their disposal, they'll basically think for themselves.

With so many sensors collecting data and communicating with one another, cities of the future will start to think for themselves, says David Pescovitz, research director at the Institute for the Future (IFTF).

That means all forms of public and private transportation coordinate with one another simultaneously to keep the roads safe and efficient. Pescovitz also believes on-demand services will start using predictive models based on people's spending habits to deliver items to your door before you realize you need them — like an enhanced version of Amazon's Dash button.

100 years from now, "You start to see the city almost become sentient," he says.

Transportation will become a centrally-controlled system in which cars run autonomously and can talk to other vehicles on the road.

Every expert Business Insider consulted believes cities of the future will experience a revolution in transportation. In the next decade, cars will increasingly be self-driving, electric, and used primarily as shared vehicles to get around. Further down the line, few city-dwellers will own their own cars that they keep at home.

Cities will be so smart in how they dispatch automated cars, says Pescovitz, that "you'll start to see various forms of transportation almost as packets in the Internet getting switched around and routed to various places as they're needed."

Paul McConnell, design director at Intersection, the company bringing free Wifi to New York through the LinkNYC, speculates people will use cars as mini-offices since they won't need to focus on driving. They'll be able to stay heads down while their car whisks them to work.

People will live in small spaces that are packed tightly together.

With so many people to consider but far fewer cars on the road, cities will get to repurpose much of the current space dedicated to streets and instead use it for housing complexes — many of them made up of micro-apartments.

McConnell says multi-generational living situations may also be a necessity for families.

"Our future urban landscapes may in some ways resemble the cities of our past," he tells Business Insider. "Multi-generational households could offset the growing cost of living in cities, while transforming community bonds in neighborhoods."

Public spaces will be easy to navigate, flexible, and friendly to pedestrians.

According to Rod Falcon, head of IFTF's Technology Horizon team, public spaces will serve an even more vital function in future cities.

When people are living in tighter quarters and have less room to entertain guests, cities could respond to the greater demand for public space by turning unused roads into bike and walking paths and transforming parking lots into parks.

"Public spaces are going to need to be much more adaptable," Falcon tells Business Insider.

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