Can smart technology benefit everyone?

Concern is growing that future smart technology will overwhelm the individual character of our cities and existing neighbourhoods and may fail to meet the needs of our local communities. This is according to former Director of Environment at Cambridge City Council, Simon Payne, who has worked in local government for over 40 years, now runs his own business Lambsquay Consulting of Cambridge Ltd.

He warns that citizens might increasingly feel threatened by their loss of local identity and disillusioned over the impact of the new technologies. Simon is keen to stress that cities and local administrations must have a thought-out vision and set of clear objectives, to harness the power of smart technology in a way that benefits their citizens. The technology itself, he explains, is only a tool and not an end in tis own right.

Simon describes the technologies to come in the next thirty years:

'Our homes, hospitals, offices, factories and high streets will be transformed, for example driverless vehicles (including buses and lorries), printers that print in 3D, autonomous machines communicating with each other and a vast number of sensors (for public safety, environmental protection, energy efficiency or domestic convenience), robotic care for the sick or elderly, improved communications and virtual reality. Much of this technology has already been invented and needs to be fully developed commercially. Some of the technology can only be imagined.'

He says would now like a debate with thought and consideration about the combined impact of these changes on our society and the