We continue the series of publications, in which we will talk in more detail about the main aspects of Anatoli Unitsky’s uSpace program, and also consider the nearest prospects for their practical application.
One of the important elements of the program is the creation of a global ground communication infrastructure – an equatorial linear city (ELC), which can become a fundamentally new type of the future urban space organization.
In the second issue of our new rubric, we will tell you in detail about the linear city as an alternative to the existing principles of organizing urban living space. Note that the development of the concept of linear cities was carried out by Anatoli Unitsky with the support of the UN, which issued 2 grants to the author of string transport in 1998 and 2002.
One of the main reasons for the formation of cities is the human need for access to the necessary infrastructure: places of residence and work, medical and educational institutions, trade and entertainment facilities, and much more. Effective access to such facilities presupposes the existence of functioning transport arteries. It is transport that determines the structure of the urban environment, acting as a kind of infrastructure framework.
Thanks to transport, a person got quick access to the sphere of production and services, consumer goods, education systems, health improvement, culture, places of mass recreation and entertainment.
Centuries later, cities and transport systems united not thousands, but millions of inhabitants. It was transport accessibility that shaped the cities and determined their size. Therefore, the emergence of new transport invariably entails a change in the concept of the city.
Rapid urbanization has already led to the fact that, as of 2018, 55% of the world's population lived in cities, by the middle of the century this figure, according to researchers, will reach 66%. At the same time, the pace of human life in megalopolises is constantly accelerating, and the urban infrastructure is experiencing increasing quantitative and qualitative pressures. All this leads to the obsolescence of the concept of the classical city, which was born millennia ago and greatly changed under the influence of the industrial revolution, which ceases to meet the challenges of the new time.
Cities act as global financial, industrial, political, cultural and communication centres. They have enormous production, scientific, technical and creative potential. However, over time, the urban environment has developed into a structure characterized by an extreme degree of instability. This is due to a number of problems: overpopulation, overproduction, high concentration of waste, emissions of harmful substances, poisoning of fertile lands, congestion of transport and outdated infrastructure. A number of these and other factors caused the deterioration of the ecology of traditional cities. As a result, the life of a city dweller is not only becoming less and less comfortable, but also threatened. At the same time, the existing vector of development of modern technologies does not allow to correct the current situation.
Historically, the development of modern cities went from the first compact pedestrian settlements (up to 5 km in size) to the emergence of larger ones – first with horse-drawn transport (city size up to 20 km), and then with automobile transport (city size up to 50 km or more).
However, with the expansion of cities, travel time due to a decrease in average speed began to reach one hour or more.
As a result, such cities become unattractive for living, despite their other advantages and benefits. Modern megacities and urban agglomerations form large-scale systems with tens of millions of inhabitants. At the same time, the excessive concentration of people and the need to ensure their access to the main benefits have led to the fact that the existing transport communications can no longer cope with their main task. This is reflected in constant traffic jams and traffic collapses, as well as in the progressive pollution of the environment: soil, air and water.
Thus, it can be stated that modern transport has reached a dead end for a number of reasons, as well as the concept of a traditional city with it.
Against this background, several approaches have emerged to remedy the current situation.
One of them is characterized by an extremely negative attitude towards urbanization and technological progress, which is expressed in calls for the curtailment of production, an end to the growth of cities and the stabilization of the population. However, this approach has been criticized due to its focus on slowing down the development of mankind, being, in fact, dead-end and reactionary.
Another approach offers a solution to the problems of modern cities through the development of technology. The growing popularity of the idea of creating "smart cities" can serve as a particular example of such an approach. This concept is based on a number of technological advances, among which a special place is occupied by: wireless data transmission, miniaturization of devices, cloud technologies and the formation of the Internet of Things (IoT).
How does a city become smart? A large number of different sensors collect a variety of information about the activities of people and businesses using IoT. The obtained information (big data) is processed by algorithms and is used to improve the efficiency of city management, making it possible to find out about the needs of residents and industries, problem areas of urban infrastructure, the ratio of supply and demand of urban resources and services.
The use of IoT technology and the need for high computing power to process the collected big data determine the participation of technology giants in projects to create "smart cities".
One of the first such companies was IBM, which in 2006 announced the launch of the Smarter Cities program.
Another example is related to the activities of Hewlett-Packard, which in 2009 launched the “Central Nervous System for the Earth” (CeNSE) project, involving the deployment of millions of nano-sensors that collect a variety of data (temperature, humidity, pollution level, etc.) from the environment, including from urban space.
It should be noted that the easiest way to implement a “smart concept” is in cities with modern infrastructure. It is even easier to do this within the framework of the construction of new districts or settlements.
For example, in 2006, the authorities of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi launched the Masdar City project – an eco-city of the future capable of providing itself with energy from renewable sources, having a sustainable ecological environment minimizing harmful emissions. Sustainability is achieved through the prohibition of personal transport and the use of the city's automated transport system, as well as through the processing of garbage and the recycling of waste. Also, all city services and systems are combined into a common smart network. It was originally planned to implement Masdar City by 2014, but this was hampered by financial and other problems, but the city construction is still underway.
Obviously, there are many obstacles to the emergence of smart cities. First of all, they are associated with the strategy itself, which does not imply a change in the concept of city development, but concentrates only on new ways of solving old urban problems. Such cities, equipped with a variety of controllers and sensors, can be called “perceiving” rather than “smart”. It is unlikely that their sensitivity and awareness are capable of, for example, changing outdated urban planning and ineffective transport and logistics infrastructure. It is unlikely that such features would fundamentally improve the obsolete road transport that creates smog in cities, as well as kills and maims hundreds of thousands of people on city streets every year.
An alternative strategy is the project to create a cluster-type ELC, which is part of the uSpace geospatial transport and infrastructure program.
ELCs are pedestrian clusters located along the equator with a size of about 1 km, connected to each other by networks of transport, energy and other engineering and communication channels.
ELC clusters – residential, industrial, trade, sports, agricultural, others – are united by the launching platform of a General Planetary Vehicle (GPV). The GPV overpass, in turn, is combined with the UST transport complexes.
Each cluster in this system is a specialized settlement, which is at the same time a communication hub – transport, energy, information – uniting the entire planet and near space into a single transport and infrastructure complex.
An ELC is an environmentally friendly city with advanced public transport, green energy, and a highly developed economy. The widespread use of information technology makes this city efficient, and its development predictable and sustainable.
The ELC concept assumes the abandonment of personal transport, which requires serious investments, and not only at the time of purchase, but also in the form of constant maintenance costs. For example, in megalopolises there is a problem of transport storage, which is not used for a significant part of the time and occupies the urban area. That is why taxi services (Uber, Yandex.Taxi, Lyft) and car sharing are becoming more and more popular in modern “smart cities”. However, these new types of services do not allow solving the transport problems of the city.
The way out is to form a fundamentally new transport network – automated, efficient, safe and environmentally friendly. It will not be located on the surface of the earth, but on the second level. Such a network of roads will leave the surface of the earth for life: plants, animals and people. These requirements were taken into account already at the design stage of transport systems developed by Unitsky String Technologies, Inc., which are the "framework" for the creation of ELCs.
As for the spatial organization of an ELC, it is a linear city located along the transport and communication infrastructure. This provides easy access to industrial, public and other facilities that act as points of attraction. Residential buildings in an ELC are represented mainly by cottage buildings, which allows to reduce the population density and increase the human life level and quality.
Another important ELC aspect is its progressive economics. Each infrastructure cluster in the ELC system is a transport hub, which gives a significant impetus to the development of the local economy, allowing such settlements to become financial, industrial, trade and logistics centres. Just as throughout the history of mankind, the cities located at the intersection of trade routes have served as centres of powerful states, so in the future ELC hub cities can occupy an important position in the world economy and politics.
It should also be noted that ELCs are based on the principles of the "green" economy, which assumes that the needs of the city and urban industries are supplied with energy from environmentally friendly and renewable sources.
The ELC system hub cities can be built not only in the logic of a linear scheme. It is possible to combine intersecting linear cities into a single "chess" megalopolis, which will ensure their efficient transport accessibility, as well as use large areas with a low population density in the economy. Therefore, the ELC concept can be adapted not only to individual countries, but also be applied to any region of the world.
The ELC creating project is seen as the most promising way of organizing the urban space of the future. At the same time, housing in such cities will be much more affordable by reducing transport costs and increasing transport accessibility. This cost reduction will be possible because transport costs are not only one of the main expenditures of municipal budgets, but also a significant factor in real estate pricing. Linear cities will allow us to live in complete harmony with nature and at the same time have all the benefits of civilization available.
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