Urbanization is before us. Cities are a gamechanging technology, and while they’ve been around for millenia, in our most mobile moment, they’re becoming even more attractive and important. The UN expects 2 in 3 people globally to reside in cities by 2050 (it’s already 8 in 10 in North America). So expect cities to get more crowded, more expensive, and yet more exciting, as time passes.
Urbanization dictates huge changes in how we interact, share, connect and live together. Cities are a major new frontier for technologies under the ‘Smart Cities’ banner. But as a technology in and of themselves, cities are perpetually in beta. One of the components of the forever-beta test is how we share space. Old components of this technology, including parks, shopping districts, and streets evolve here and there, but have remained in their primary form, seemingly forever. We value them, and visit them often. But population density increasingly requires us to bring the way we share those spaces into the much more private realms of internal space.
We’re seeing this happen. In fact, it’s what the ‘sharing economy’ is all about. AirBnB, WeWork and Uber, at a core level, are each about sharing areas once thought private just 15 years ago (namely your home, office, and car). We should expect our sense of private and public space to continue to change more rapidly in the coming years. Expect them to bleed together.