Sign In

Pipes will repair themselves in the towns and cities of the future


VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is coordinating an international CIB working group, which has published a roadmap to the smart cities of the future. Cities will adopt new practices and adapt to change quickly. They will also need to be resource-efficient and reduce their emissions. Strong transformation trends include efficient energy consumption, interactive smart technology, and new types of services in particular.


Only around 2.7% of the Earth's surface is urbanised, but these areas account for 70% of natural resource consumption and 75% of carbon dioxide emissions. Urbanisation is a global and growing trend, with increasing numbers of people living and moving within the same areas. Rational and environmentally friendly energy consumption will become a key issue in the cities of the future. Preparing for sustainable and smart transitions will enable improved resource efficiency, cost savings and lower emissions. Predictive, individual and self-learning systems will consume less energy as part of energy management within buildings.


New business models and interactive smart technology are changing cities


Old cities with old infrastructure such as roads, buildings and energy networks need continuous repairs. Technology and services will be combined more often in the cities of the future. Existing infrastructure will be repaired according to need, and will also be able to repair itself.


For example, during the shift from infrastructure to services, new business models and actors will emerge in the construction and property sector. Individual spaces and environments that meet certain needs and have integrated, smart and interactive technology will be sold instead of square metres. Advanced, printed technology can also be retrofitted to old buildings.  In addition, interactive technology will provide continuous, real-time information on the state of a building.  This information will automatically be used by the building's own materials, which will repair themselves when faults occur. When a pipe detects a leak, it will repair the pipe section in question itself.


Nowadays, the residents or maintenance staff of a building need to use a range of user interfaces in order – for example – to adjust the ventilation or temperature as desired. Everyday life can be made easier by making a building smarter so that self-learning and predictive solutions are adjusted automatically behind the scenes. For example, VTT's Human Thermal Model
identifies the required conditions in a room, how people move around, and individual and personal lighting and heating needs. An energy calculation programme is integrated with the model, enabling the prediction and more even distribution of the energy load. This results in energy savings and satisfied users.


Based on international cooperation, VTT and CIB experts have drawn up a roadmap for the development and future of smart cities; the roadmap has seven main themes: energy, buildings, infrastructure, land use, transport & mobility, and communities and users. The project began in 2014 and was completed in 2016.


Link to publication: Research Roadmap Report Smart City Vision
The report was published by the CIB (International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction).