IBM’s Predictions and the Future of Cities

 IBM’s 5 in 5This month, IBM revealed predictions for five big innovations it thinks will change our lives within the next five years.This is the eighth year in a row that IBM has made predictions about future technology, but the first thee I have heard about them. What makes these predictions notable is that IBM doing more than simply prognosticating, they are backing their predictions with research and investment.

“We try to get a sense of where the world is going because that focuses where we put our efforts. The harder part is nailing down what you want to focus on. Unless you stick your neck out and say this is where the world is going, it’s hard to you can turn around and say you will get there first. These are seminal shifts. We want to be there, enabling them.”

—Bernie Meyerson, the vice president of innovation at IBM:

How IBM’s predictions may affect and the future of cities

While all 5 of IBM’s predictions are intriguing, two stood out as having a direct impact on the future of cities. Here are excerpts from both.

Buying local will beat online

In five years, buying local will beat online as you get online data at your fingertips in the store.

The technology trends will move us back to brick and mortar—but with a difference. In the future, retailers will layer increasing levels of engagement and personalization on top of the shopping experience, ultimately merging the instant gratification of physical shopping with the richness of online shopping and making same-day delivery a snap.

I’ve actually been waiting for this to happen for a while now. While I love shopping local and supporting independent business, I’m also on the look-out for good value.  As a result,  I always have my phone with me when shopping to research and price check. More often than not, local merchants get my business.

To be sure, this is not always because of lower prices, but a combination service, convenience and the overall experience. It will be interesting to see how online storefronts will compare in these areas. It will also be interesting to see how online storefronts affect the street level retail experience in out cities.

The city will help you live in it

In five years, the city will help you live in it.

For citizens, smart phones enabled by cognitive systems will provide a digital key to the city. People can have fingertip access to information about everything that’s happening in the city, whether an experience is right for them, and how best to get there. Because these learning systems have interacted with citizens continuously, they know what they like—and can present them with options they might not find easily.

I’ve long been a proponent of the smart city, so I’m glad to see it included in this list. I don’t think we will have to wait even 5 years for innovations in this area to roll out. Indeed, many already have.

The biggest issue here isn’t so much with the technology to connect things, but rather the ability to protect residents privacy and personal data. Despite what Meyerson says, there is a concern that the ‘bad guys’ may turn out to be the governments themselves using data for reasons other than it was originally collected.

Your Turn

What prediction you are most excited—or worried—about?

Yuri Artibise

Yuri Artibise is an experienced policy analyst, community engagement practitioner and social media specialist. I have a Master of Public Administration degree with over 10 years of public policy research, analysis, and advocacy experience.

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