• kgienk245gew In 1997, a London academic published a startling vision on how humans will live in the future. Professor Michael Batty, a renowned urban planner, summed it up in one phrase: “The Computable City”. By 2050, he says, there will be a “massive convergence” of computers and communications technologies, with highways and “smart buildings” connected via the internet in new kinds of vast information infrastructures. “Everything around us,” he wrote, “will be some form of computer.”

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    Professor Michael Batty was one of the first people to recognise a new concept – that of a “smart city”.


    His only mistake was underestimating just how quickly such a vision would become reality.


    According to a UN World Urbanization Prospects Report in 2011, 3.6 billion – over half of the world’s population – already live in cities. This will rise to more than 6.3 billion people, or 75% of the population, by 2050.


    Such rapid urbanisation places enormous pressure on transport networks, emergency services and utilities, some of which are already stretched to capacity.


    To meet this challenge, more than 2,500 cities around the globe already have “smart” projects in progress – each collating vast amounts of data on municipal functions such as transportation, healthcare, public safety, utilities and governance.


    This data is not just collected from more obvious information sources, such as traffic cameras or the inhabitants themselves, but increasingly from sensors attached to streetlights, buses and rubbish bins, and even buried in the roads themselves.


    Piece by piece, this so-called “internet of things” is helping to build cities that organise themselves – reacting to everything from a leaking water pipe to a motorway pile-up – and coordinate resources automatically.


    All of these systems will inevitably necessitate an explosion of sophisticated new technology – the likes of which even Prof Batty may not have foreseen.


    Smart cities in action


    Take the old Spanish port city of Santander, for example. After an €11m European Union grant in 2011, over 12,000 sensors have been installed, recording everything from air pollution levels to free parking spaces.


    Streetlights now automatically dim when no one is around, while rubbish bins notify collectors when they’re full. These advances save local authorities about 25% on electricity bills and 20% on waste management.


    This data has to be collated with a huge information infrastructure – in this case, the vast cloud computing servers of what Santander calls its “command-and-control centre”.


    In a smart city, the information being produced is vast. Some experts estimate that by 2016 we will generate 4.1 terabytes of information per day per square kilometre (or 10.1 terabytes per square mile) of urbanised land area – the equivalent of more than four average home computer harddrives.


    But the Santander centre’s purpose is not just to serve the local government. It also makes this sensor data freely available to Santander citizens themselves. Via their smartphones, residents can access up-to-the-minute information on everything from local traffic congestion, parking availability or even pollen counts.


    Other smart city projects are even more diverse. In Norway, for example, more than 40,000 bus stops for local transport company Kolumbus are already making scheduling announcements via Twitter. Passengers can also scan a type of two-dimensional barcode, known as a Quick Response (QR) Code, affixed to each stop and leave messages about their experiences.


    While in Boston, a system called ShotSpotter is using acoustic sensors to detect and pinpoint the location of gunshots, helping police reduce crime.

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    Le 4gewe3g6edge niveau de vie des plus favorisés a progressé tandis que celui des plus pauvres ne s'est pas amélioré…


      Des riches de plus en plus riches et des pauvres de plus en plus pauvres : les inégalités de niveaux de vie ont augmenté en France entre 2007 et 2011, tandis qu'elles ont reculé en moyenne dans l'Union européenne, révèle une étude de l'Insee publiée ce jeudi. Si la France reste dans la moyenne européenne, son coefficient de Gini, qui mesure les disparités de revenus dans la population, a augmenté de 0,7 point tandis qu'il reculait de 0,3 point dans l'ensemble de l'EuropeSpeed Dating Dating Service Matching.


      Sans surprise, les pays les plus égalitaires sont ceux du nord de l'Europe (Suède, Finlande, Pays-Bas) et les pays plus pauvres mais sans gros écarts de revenus sont la Slovaquie, la Slovénie et la République Tchèque. À l'inverse, le sud de l'Europe se démarque par de fortes inégalités de revenus, notamment l'Espagne, la Grèce et le Portugal. La France, elle, se situe dans la moyenne : son indice de Gini est de 30,5% tandis que la moyenne européenne est de 30,6%. « La crise a eu un impact très différent selon les pays, commente Fabrice Lenglart, directeur des statistiques démographiques et sociales à l'Insee. La croissance modérée des inégalités en France est liée au fait que le niveau de vie a progressé plus favorablement pour les gens qui étaient déjà en haut de l'échelle. »


      Les prestations sociales, amortisseurs des inégalités


      Si l'Insee rappelle que la France se situe toujours parmi les pays européens les plus favorisés, l'étude note que 14% des Français vivent aujourd'hui sous le seuil de pauvreté. Les personnes vivant sous le seuil de pauvreté sont en risque d'exclusion sociale, rappelle l'Insee : c'est le cas d'un Européen sur quatre et d'environ un Français sur cinq. Le risque de pauvreté ou d'exclusion a même augmenté en France entre 2008 et 2012, passant de 18,5% à 19,1% de la population.


      Les transferts sociaux ont toutefois permis de limiter les dégâts : pensions de retraites, minima sociaux et indemnités de chômage ont amorti de 41% la progression du taux de pauvreté en France, contre 35% dans l'ensemble de l'Union européenne.


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