22nd Century City Living

Category: Travel & Living

We’ve already established that the future is here, even though maybe not everyone in the world likes this fact. If you’re reading this blog, then I’m sure you appreciate all the different smart devices they make these days and have noticed how much of a difference they make in your life. Who doesn’t want to save precious time on otherwise tedious tasks when you can have a smart device take care of these things for you? Don’t worry, the digital world is not so dismal, and if you know someone who appreciates technology as much as you do, then these suggestions will make your next holiday or birthday shopping much easier!

One of the coolest things I own is a smartwatch. This thing is the best! I love it, and it’s not only because it’s shiny and interactive, but it’s actually been very useful to me. I got access to my calendar on it, it has a pedometer and a heart-rate monitor so I can keep track of my breathing when I do my weekly cardio, and it even has GPS tracking! Before I got this one, I used to own just a regular automatic watch, like the ones at Timepiece Quarterly, but now I only use this device and it works great for me. So don’t have an inch of doubt that this will make a great gift.

If you’re buying a gift for someone who likes to listen to a lot of music, get them a smart speaker. These are more than just speakers these days – they can stream music, but also take voice commands, check the weather, make calls and can even double as an alarm clock. Neat, right? If your friend or relative has their home optimized for smart devices, some models can even control the thermostat or the lights.

Speaking of lights, if you know someone who’s into ambience, then a smart lamp would make the perfect gift. Lighting changes the vibe of a room, and smart lamps can not only be set to adjust their beams according to the time of night and gradually turn themselves off in the morning, but they also have a myriad of different colors for every mood you find yourself in. You can find many different models and they all come in fun shapes and sizes with lots of additional features.

So, there you go, I’m sure you’ll make someone very happy and I’m sure I’ve already convinced you to buy a gift for yourself as well, so you can thank me later!

Oh boy, home assistants! It started with Apple and Siri, and once people got used to asking her questions, they found her to be really helpful. Google came out with their assistant, Microsoft has Cortana, and Samsung made Bixby. It is a feature that most of us couldn’t live without at this point.

Enter the stand-alone smart speaker: Amazon and their helpful Alexa, which is in just about everything they make now: kindles, fire tv, and their apps. Google’s got the Google Home. Apple HomePod is newer in the market, as is the Harman Kardon speaker, which uses Cortana.

People always ask me what smart speaker is best. Amazon used to pretty much have the market cornered – their Alexa worked with just about anything you could possibly want: smart thermostats, smart tvs, smart switches, even security systems. The list went on and on. But Google and Apple are catching up, so it really depends on what you want it to do.

First thing you should think about is whether or not you have a big investment in any of these ecosystems. For example, if 99% of your music collection is in iTunes and you want it to play music, you will get the best use out of a HomePod. If you’re constantly ordering things on Amazon, then you would benefit from getting the Alexa speaker. If you’ve got Chromecast, the Google Home would be best for you.

Second, you should check compatibility with the things you have. Think about what you want to do and then see what devices will give you that ability. If you’ve got a smartTV, it might only work with one brand of device. If you want to be able to control your smart thermostat, then you have to check and see what it will work with. If the sound quality is something you’re interested in, there are speaker companies that add smart assistants. You’re not stuck buying the generic one these companies offer. You can also make your decision based on price or by size – maybe you need a speaker that will fit somewhere small, be portable, or you want something big that will create a lot of sound. Maybe you want units that will all work together like an intercom system. It is something else to consider when you are deciding which brand to select.

Really, though, you’ll be surprised at how often you end up using one! I thought I would use mine just to play music. Now I can control my TV with it, it adds things to my shopping list for me so I can check it when I go to the store and buy everything I need, and it controls the main lights in my house. It also works my thermostat. I just keep finding things that are smart and adding them to my collection of devices. It really makes life easy. It sort of feels like I’m living in the future when I can just say out loud that I want the room cooler and – tada – it just happens.

Pretty great, don’t you think?

Cities can really improve by embracing all that technology has to offer. One of the best ways to do that is through smart buildings. Whether using renewable energy sources, sensors, or other uses of technology, smart buildings can save the government money – which then they will hopefully then pass on to the public through increased services or lowering taxes. And if you live or work in one, you will really find yourself benefiting from the thoughtful design and useful features. Smart buildings are designed to be better – more efficient, better use of space, easier access. So what sort of things make a building smart? Read this post and I’ll give you a few ideas.

Many smart buildings start out with smart construction. Green materials, prefabricated rooms, or reusing items from existing buildings all make smart construction. It cuts down on construction costs and saves time. With new construction, it is easier to insure better insulation and also design building specifically for their planned use. It can also be easier to incorporate technology and plan parking or mass transit access. As pipes are being installed, sensors can be added so that weak spots or leaks can be found quickly. Floor plans can be designed specifically for its use – the right number of outlets, high speed internet connections, bathrooms, etc. This ensures that space is not wasted and provides easier access for items that might need to be repaired or checked. Modular offices are another great option, able to be reconfigured as businesses grow or their office needs change.

Many smart buildings also strive to be energy efficient. Whether there are solar panels on the roof so that energy can be generated for the building, or through the use of automation to reduce energy use, smart buildings have great ways to reduce energy consumption. Sensors can automatically turn off lighting when no one is in the room and automating systems like the HVAC and the power systems can save money, taking away responsibilities for those sort of things from building managers or the employees themselves.

For older buildings and new construction alike, embracing the use of The Internet of Things technology can really help increase productivity and their ability to meet the needs of whatever their purpose is. Whether they’re using cloud services or wireless printers, using smarter technology cuts down on work time, automates tasks, and allows users to use their time more efficiently. The Internet of Things is not just about work, it is also about making dumb things a little smarter and easier to operate. It can allow workers to connect remotely to the office and work, but it will also allow distributers to plan their routes more effectively and send real-time traffic information directly to drivers. It will also enable bosses to get information on how people are driving. Maybe one day the cars will even drive themselves!

Smart buildings are the future of construction and the future of where we will be living and working. It is time to use all that technology to our benefit.

Some people believe that the more we adopt technology, the less freedom we will have. When we adopt certain types of technology, we can gather much more information than ever before. Fitness trackers can gather more information about your health. Traffic cameras can help keep vehicles flowing safely while keeping pedestrians safer and deterring crime. It ends up being a lot of data and people often wonder what is being done with it.

One thing that governments on city, state, and federal levels is keep the public informed on what data they are collecting. If there are privacy concerns, the general public should not only know what is going on but also if there are ways to opt-out. The government also needs to share what the information they are collecting will be used for. If they put a camera on a street corner, they should let the public know if it has been installed because it is a high crime area or if it is to stop people from running a traffic light. When cities hand out smart thermostats, they should let the public know that they will use the information to maintain the stability of the power grid. People will be much more willing to accept and embrace smart options when they feel that they are being informed as to what is being done with the knowledge and that it happens with approval.

Another thing that helps people get onto the smart system bandwagon is knowing how they will benefit from it. Is it going to save them money? Will it help them save time? People adopt changes more readily if they know that they will personally be getting something out of it. It will all depend on how the technology is marketed to people – they will want to know that it was not expensive and what it will be doing for them. Will it cut down their wait times at places like the DMV? Will it improve response times for emergency services? You can see how people would be happy to adopt some changes if it means good things for them.

Something else that can ease peoples’ minds is by providing a timeline when the measures are temporary or part of a pilot program. If people know that there will be traffic monitoring for three months in order to determine how to improve the flow of traffic, it might not seem like such an invasion of privacy. If they know that healthcare data will be collected anonymously for a year to ensure that there are adequate specialists to meet the area’s needs, they may be able to see the bigger picture and not see it as an invasion of privacy.

There are a lot cities can do using smart systems that will really benefit everyone who lives there. The key here is to make sure that people are well informed about what information is being collected on them and what that information is being used for.

Smart devices are really making things better. It can impact your life and even your wallet! I’ll give you some suggestions here, and you can feel free to add more in the comments.

Are you forgetful? I know I can be. If you’ve got smart lighting, though, you can turn your lights or other appliances off from anywhere using an app! They can also be programmed to turn off at certain times, or even be connected to a weather station so that they can go on at dusk and go off again at daybreak. It is a great way to reduce your electric bill and help you save some money by not powering lights or other things that you are not using.

Smart thermostats are another amazing thing to help curb your energy use. Most smart thermostats have features like timers and scheduling so you can set your house to be warmer when you are not home in the summer or cooler at night in the winter when you’re snuggling under blankets in bed. Some will even “learn” your schedule and how you like the settings, and then automatically adjust to your preferences. Others have a powersaving mode – for example, some can be connected to the power company (they will even install them for free) and when there are high-demand power days, they can adjust your energy consumption to help you save money. That’s money in your pocket and you don’t even have to do anything!

There are also lots of smart apps out there that will help you do things better and smarter. There are budgeting apps that will help you organize your finances and show you what you’re spending money on so that you can make any changes you think are necessary. There are apps that will remind you when your bills are due so that you never miss a payment. There are other apps out there that will find you digital coupons for things you buy, offer you discounts on places you shop, and others will give you money back when you buy things like gas. It might be only a little bit but it can really add up! I have an app on my phone that keeps track of where I am and will ask me surveys based on the places I go – then it pays me for answering those questions!

Insurance companies have even gotten into the smart thing game! Some car insurance companies will provide you with a little devices that you attach to the computer of your car that will keep track of your driving. It can help you to drive better, or it can also lower your insurance rates if you’re a good driver. It is also a way to show how much you actually drive, which could also reduce your rates. Health insurance companies can also use the information from your fitness tracker as a better way to assess your fitness, possibly lowering your insurance rates as well.

What are your best suggestions to save money through the use of something smart?

I’ll say over and over that technology is great and that it can make life easier for everyone. But did you know that whole communities are getting smarter? Smart cities are adopting technology in a variety of ways to improve the way their government operates and the way people navigate their city, interact with their officials, and acquire services. Take a quick read through this post to see just some of the things that are currently happening in some of the smartest cities.

Some cities have embraced renewable energy sources and are converting some of their more traditional power plants to wind, hydro, or solar power. Using intelligent monitoring of the city’s energy sources, the city can keep their power grid more stable during peak times of year while saving themselves (and hopefully their consumers) some money. It will also cut down on global warming and improve the health of its residents. One more great way to reduce energy is by installing smart lights in buildings and smart sensors on streetlights that dim when nobody is around. Encourage the use of ride sharing, bike sharing, or carpooling reduces air pollution, reduces traffic, and can improve the lives of residents. Cities can also replace aging government vehicles with smarter cars that are safer, more energy efficient, and can make communication between offices and the fleet much easier.

Other cities have embraced the ease of the internet. They have made their websites easier to navigate and moved more services online – everything from renewing driver’s licenses and paying for municipal services to apps that help people find parking spaces or bus schedules. Some cities want their citizens to use online services so much that they offer free wifi to residents or provide lots of hotspots to encourage use. Local leaders also have made more of an effort to be approachable through social media accounts and posting their event calendars so that people are able to have more interaction with them.

Mass transit can really improve with smart technology and the Internet of Things. Monitoring traffic patterns and then adjusting traffic lights can improve traffic flow and make pedestrians safer. Cities can also monitor busses, trains, and other mass transit and then be sure to adequately supply transportation to meet demand. And we’re working on automated driving and safety features to prevent accidents.

Some cities, like Dubai, are even embracing technology to bring better healthcare to its citizens. Through video chats, doctors can see more patients. They can also send patients home and use smart technology to continue monitoring them. Telemedicine can also help transfer medical records between providers with ease and allow for more communication between patients and doctors.

Technology can take the guesswork out of city planning. Cities can compile crime data to determine where best to allocate resources like police and fire departments. They can use population density studies to learn where new public buildings like hospitals, schools, or libraries should be built. Studying traffic patterns can determine which roads need to be expanded or where traffic lights should be installed.

There are so many amazing things that cities can do with technology. What would you love to see your city embrace?