Big Data, mobility to drive technology growth

November 11, 2014 7:13 pm

Big Data and mobility are the two major drivers of growth in technology in the next few years, says MIT professor Carlo Ratti.

Ratti, who besides teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is an architect, engineer, inventor, educator and activist, and directs the MIT SENSEable City Lab. His team works with technology to create new interfaces between people and the environment.

“Mobility is probably the biggest issue in all modern cities, as it influences other fields, such as public spaces, preservation of historical centres, social relations etc:,” says the professor.

Ratti is a proponent of great technologies that could make the world a much better place to live, he explains the advantages of self driving cars, saying: “Self-driving vehicles promise to have a dramatic impact on urban life, because they will blur the distinction between private and public modes of transportation.

“Your car could give you a lift to work in the morning and then, rather than sitting idle in a parking lot, give a lift to someone else in your family – or, for that matter, to anyone else in your neighbourhood, social media community, or city. This means that there will be fewer cars on the road.”

MIT research reveals that cities such as New York or Delhi could easily survive with 20 per cent of the cars they have today.

However, using technology to blanket cities or to create a backbone for large infrastructure projects is not without its difficulties.

“The challenge is to improve citizens’ lifestyle and to extend their active participation in city management,” says Ratti. “Networks are bringing the world closer together. With this, I am hopeful that we will see a great reduction in violence and conflict worldwide.”

(This article is part of Mediaquest’s coverage of World Economic Forum’s Dubai Summit on the Global Agenda 2014)