According to the UN report «World Urbanization Prospects», 55% of the world’s population live in cities today, and by 2050 this figure will have increased to 68%. Analysis of demographic trends shows that by 2050, the number of urban residents will have increased by another 2.5 billion.
Historically, the process of urbanization is based on economic and social factors. People are eager to move from a village to a city in pursuit of better education and social services, as well as better job opportunities.
At the same time, urbanization as a phenomenon is accompanied by a number of problems, such as increased crime, pollution or congestion. In this regard, the city authorities are increasingly turning to systems of «smart city» or looking for other solutions in a given situation. Before we propose our own version, let’s look at the pros and cons of urbanization.
Pluses of urbanization
Urbanization is based on saving of funds and resources due to the scale and increase of labor productivity. Concentration of the population in the city allows to reduce the costs of engineering support, infrastructure and communications, as well as the organization of activities involving a large number of specialists.
According to experts of the international consulting company McKinsey, urbanization will become one of the largest drivers of global economic growth in the current century. A similar position is expressed in the UN report, which emphasizes the importance of increasing the number of cities to reduce poverty.
Minuses of urbanization
The gap between economically developed and degraded cities is widening. High population growth rates in megacities cause social tension. The number of migrants is constantly changing and can no longer be reliably recorded. It’s not yet possible to provide them all with housing and jobs.
The issues of overpopulation and providing cities with proper infrastructure are being solved too slowly. In this regard, the number of negative factors, influencing the creation of conditions for sanitary-epidemiological well-being of the population and the preservation of its health, is increasing.
For the last 10 years, the density of construction in the megacities has significantly increased, the areas of recreational zones have reduced, the sanitary protection zones of objects – sources of atmospheric pollution, have decreased. All this, along with the exponential growth in the number of cars, has led to the creation of a new artificial environment, where official standards of safe and secure living do not work. In addition, increased intra-city migration and poor ecology have escalated the risk of spreading epidemics and is one of the reasons for the development of psychosomatic diseases.
In addition to housing problems, urbanization has caused air pollution by dust, nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, benzopyrene. And for urban residents, it caused increased noise, vibration, infrasounds and high-frequency electromagnetic fields from numerous sources, including mobile communications, WI-FI, as well as electric transport: subway, tram, electrified railways and electric cars. Existing health protection measures have ceased to provide urban populations with the necessary level of security, and the consequences of negative impacts have become irreversible. For example, it is the noise exposure that is associated with the increased cardiovascular diseases and neurosis, which, in terms of harm to the health of urban residents, reaches the level of negative impact of exhaust gases from motor vehicles, and the noise in the city streets in the houses are not even saved by glass packets. Among other things, the boost in the number of urban residents has led to an increase in the volume of household waste and, as a result, accelerated environmental pollution.
It is believed that urbanization should contribute to providing people with jobs and quality goods and services, but practice shows that there are no guarantees for migrants to benefit from these advantages after relocation. And the growing demand for housing is leading to rise in real estate prices. A lot of people can’t afford it. That’s why slums are formed in megacities.
The question «What to do?» arises, it is obvious that the growth of the population of cities cannot be stopped.
The way out of the situation
Theoretically, it is possible to calculate an approximate rate of urban population, which could be provided with the proper volume and quality of infrastructure, and in which the risk to human health from the impact of the urban environment will remain acceptable.
Or SkyCity linear cities should be designed and built. These are cluster-type settlements, harmoniously integrated into the natural environment, where the land surface is intended for pedestrians, and green plants, and transport, energy and information communications are above the ground.
In the construction of linear cities, there will be no need to cut down forests, build roads and railroads, or otherwise disrupt the biogeocenosis in the development area. Horizontal SkyWay lifts will connect high-rise buildings, settlements, as well as residential, shopping, entertainment, manufacturing and multifunctional clusters. SkyWay high-speed transport routes will transport you anywhere in the world. SkyCity’s linear cities can be built in the mountains, desert and waterlogged areas, including complex terrain, as well as on the sea shelf.
The basic principle of the construction of each infrastructure cluster is a pedestrian quarter, in which between multifunctional high-rise buildings, connected by horizontal lifts, there is housed low-rise comfortable development with landscaping of urban areas and with the use of renewable energy sources. In doing so, significant savings are achieved by:
- Cutting the cost of asphalt roads construction;
- Reduced maintenance costs of asphalt roads, especially in wintertime;
- Decrease by an order of magnitude in emissions into the urban atmosphere and urban soil;
- Reduction by three orders of magnitude in the number of accidents and deaths, including those of children, on urban roads;
- Decrease by two orders of magnitude in the allocation of expensive urban land for «second level» transport and communication infrastructure;
- Reduced energy consumption of transport;
- Decrease in municipal transport costs;
- Cutting the cost for irrigation of green areas using the technology of restoration of living fertile soil;
- Cutback on urban greening expenses.
SkyCity’s Linear City development will deliver many other positive effects. The duration and quality of life will significantly increase thanks to the ecological and comfortable natural environment in a metropolitan area; Thanks to landscaping urban neighborhoods everywhere; Thanks to reduction in irrigation costs for rehabilitated areas (up to 10 times); Thanks to obtaining environmentally friendly food products even in megacities; Thanks to creating a comfortable microclimate in the city; Thanks to placing green gardens on the roofs and floors of high-rise apartment and commercial buildings. This will also help to protect living quarters from overheating (roof plants evaporate moisture and cool the soil) and to create a comfortable indoor climate. It will be possible to reduce the cost on cooling dwellings (taking into account the fact that the soil layer and roof cover are natural heat insulators).
Accounting to the widespread installation of solar panels in the facades of high-rise buildings (up to half of the facade area), there will be created extensive opportunities for the use of renewable energy in the territories of SkyCity linear cities.
Innovative approach to creating the infrastructure of the SkyCity linear city will improve logistics, as the area of coverage of the erected buildings will be reduced in comparison with the models of the existing cities with transport of the «first level», i.e. on the ground.
Blockchain technology can have a great impact on the development of SkyCity linear cities, as the introduction of innovative architectural solutions in various aspects will reduce administrative costs, decrease the likelihood of errors and fraudulent schemes with documents. Creation and development of the SkyCity linear city involves the construction of a single system, which will constantly transfer huge amounts of data which needs protection and storage. It is in this context that blockchain will act as a platform for the accounting and settlement system of the SkyCity linear city, capable of providing the necessary level of information security.
As a result, the innovative and image project of the linear city, based on the SkyCity technology, will increase the attractiveness of the created region for business and will become an impulse for intensive economic development and growth.
A similar way to address the challenges posed by urbanization has already been appreciated by the United Nations. Anatoliy Yunitskiy was supported by 2 grants in 1998 and 2002 to develop the concept of linear cities. Accordingly, given the sustainable development goals adopted by the international community and officially known as «Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development», heads of states should focus on the SkyWay linear city of as one of the concepts of a “smart city”. Especially since SkyWay recently, in the spring of 2019, became a UN expert and partner in the Smart Cities program.