3 solutions to combat emerging megacity challenges

Embarking the 2020 decade, we face increasingly demanding challenges in terms of the progressively growing population. Partly because of increased life expectancy and birthrate, the global population is expected to reach a staggering headcount of 9.7 billion by 2050 (Lo, 2019), of whom 68 percent will live in urban areas. This will further induce an increasing overpopulation of so-called megacities.


Megacities - cities with a population above 10 million - will make up a great deal of the future’s global landscape. Modern-day megacities like Tokyo, Jakarta, and Shanghai give us great insights into the problems that we need to address to retain comfortable - or at least acceptable - living standards. 

As 96 percent of large city citizens are exposed to air pollution levels that are deemed unhealthy (Krzyzanowski, 2014), this seems to be one of the most pressing challenges of our time. To develop new strategies to solve the emerging challenges of upcoming megacities, we need to disrupt current solutions and shift toward more innovative and smart strategies. Therefore, investing in smart and innovative solutions is needed to benefit us all. 

Cleaning polluted air

An innovation that takes on the ever-growing problem of air pollution is CityTree. This concept offers a moss filter that combines nature with IoT (the Internet of Things) technology to improve the air quality in cities. Moss has the unique ability to naturally purify the air and produces a large amount of moisture that has a cooling effect. The integrated IoT technology sends you comprehensive performance and status information to optimize effects. 

Another solution is presented by OTree Lilly. This company created a product that combines technology and the air-purifying power of plants. It filters polluted air indoors by enhancing the plants' natural take-up mechanism of (for humans) harmful gasses. This will decrease the amount of indoor toxic gasses that damage our body and mind, protecting your health, concentration, and well-being in a green and sustainable manner. 

Silencing noise pollution

Another form of pollution within cities that is often overlooked, is noise pollution. In Europe, 65 percent of city populations are exposed to noise levels that exceed the level at which there is an increased risk of adverse health effects (Jarosinska, 2018). 

This problem can be countered with the solutions of DeNoize. This company developed an active noise cancellation kit that integrates inside a window frame to cancel transmitted noise in real-time with 90%. Effectively decreasing the exposure of unhealthy noise levels will lead to a healthier population and thus a better quality of life. 

Reinventing city design

To eradicate future city growth complications in terms of city design, Skialabs has come up with a service that copes with the challenges of these future smart cities. Their service creates virtual copies of various city components such as the city’s infrastructure and its buildings. By making use of the virtual environments, you can analyze and optimize various processes such as logistics, garbage collection and energy consumption. This leads to a more sustainable use of resources and a better quality-of-life for citizens. 

Vertico also focusses on city design and the effective use of resources. Their 3D concrete printing solution produces concrete objects, such as bridges, with 60 percent less material as with traditional manufacturing processes. These structurally optimized objects do not only reduce the use of material but also CO2 emissions. The latter outcome is highly relevant as construction is responsible for 39 percent of total global CO2 emissions

Balancing the data tsunami

Implementing innovations, as noted above, seems very promising toward increasing the quality of life within these urbanized areas. The implementation of these innovations will lead to more smart and digitally interconnected dynamics within the cities. Therefore, data will become an even more valuable resource. With processors and sensors being integrated in running shoes, bicycles, lawnmowers, house foundations, and elevators, not even 5G networks can account for the tsunami of data that will be prompted by these implementations. 

To combat this challenge, Ekkono developed a machine learning-driven solution that makes connected devices conscious, self-learning, and predictive. This leads to effective local data processing and relieves the mounting pressure on the overarching network. 


With the pressing matters of evolving megacities at our doorstep, will these innovations be able to disrupt our current static paradigm and transform the above-mentioned pressing challenges into opportunities for the future to come? Let’s see how these concepts - competing in the Living & Working theme - perform during the next rounds of the Blue Tulip Awards 2020! 


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