In 2050 80% of the world’s population will live in urban centers. 4 out of 10 cars will be electric and, while walking down the road, you will be very likely to bump into a Smart Pod Car, a kind of mobile office where every function will be operated by voice control. This is the vision of Anne Lise Kjaer, a Danish futurologist that we interviewed during the research for Colors 81 - Transport. Have a look at the full transcript of what she said to us.
1) How will we go to work in 50 years time?
Cars will be very different in 2060 compared to those fifty years ago. The 20th Century car was based on the American lifestyle – a concept connecting two different worlds: people living in suburbia and working in the centre of town. From a status point of view, the car symbolised individual freedom and people were lead to believe that this was how you showed your identity and affluence. Today we associate cars with congestion and pollution. In my opinion there will still be a place for the car in 50 years time, but the internal combustion engine as we know it today will become extinct. Infrastructures that can sustain cars powered by new technologies will take car design to the next level and with that we will see a cultural shift in transportation preferences and urban design/planning.
Obviously there is not just one but many potential 2060 commuting scenarios. Most public transportation such as airplanes, buses, trains and subways will be run by alternative energy sources and will likely be our primary means of transport. We will see the emergence of the PodCar or PodBike - a ‘community share’ solution. It will connect to your ‘smart phone’ or ‘smart pad’ to become a ‘mini me’ that accommodates your personal needs Smart Apps will enable you to manage stress-free, intelligent and economical transportation. All charges will be paid by a universal charge ‘smart card’ - tracking all your moves to help you monitor and control your personal carbon footprint. This personal ID card can be used across all platforms: phone, tube, car, flights, shopping. It will be an extension of you - a fusion of Oyster card, GPS and RIFD, with Google style analytics that enables you to lead much more optimised life in general.
Already, organisations such as Chromaroma are turning the chore of the daily commute into a social and game-playing activity, and we can expect more innovative ideas to enhance travel experiences. By 2060 we will also see a much more balanced approach to commuting as working patterns evolve. Population growth we will lead to a four day working week - with two major work modes: ME and/or WE time. ME = Focused Work Time and WE = Collaborative & Meeting Time. I see four key work scenarios for 2060.
a) THE MOBILE CITIZEN: Always on the go = by plane, public transport or electric car.
b) THE FAMILY PROVIDER: Works 9-5 in the office or occasionally from home = Public transport or economical car commuter.
c) THE FREE-STYLER: Works on the cloud - in a freelance and multi-faceted way, combining paid work with personal and collaborative projects = Mostly no commuting.
d) THE IDEALIST: social entrepreneur and community work, mostly based within their local environment = Commutes by bicycle or walking.
2) How will we go on holiday in 50 years time?
This depends on which mindsets group we fit into, but in general there will be a reappraisal of what holiday means – both in terms of time spent away, and the activities we engage in. Already we see a strong focus on sabbaticals, not just gap years/months for the young, but for those who have reached a point in their life where they want to take time out to learn new things, contribute to wider society or focus on personal growth and development. Pressure for carbon footprint reduction may also influence this, meaning that when we choose to travel long distance we maximise the value of the journey by staying for longer than a week or two.
There will also be a strong ‘Back to Basics’ trend, where people choose to enjoy family time, often reliving the experiences they enjoyed with their parents or grandparents. So this can mean daytrips, camping holidays or explorations of the local countryside. A renewed interest in local cultural capital means people will rediscover the treasures on their own doorstep and invest leisure time in getting to know their own area better.
Alongside this, technology is enabling new ways of experiencing our world. In the future, people may take virtual holidays – creating unique and tailor-made travel experiences from the comfort of home. Often the focus here is on adventure and ‘immersion’ in alternative cultures and ways of living. Already we see the birth of ‘virtual tourism’ through projects such as Google Art Project, where different art projects are being collected by a team of volunteers and can be viewed by the whole world online. Technology is bringing ultimate experiences ever closer to reality. Virgin is pioneering the idea of space travel, and this may not always be the preserve of the super rich. But for those who chose to travel on land, high-speed trains with ultra short travel time will be the preferred ‘stress free’ means of travel. Here are four scenarios for the future of travel.
a) THE MOBILE CITIZEN ‘collects’ travel adventures, mixing urban immersion and ‘one off’ adventures. At home in many cities and countries, they visit friends around the globe.
b) THE FAMILY PROVIDER goes for shared experiences that maximise family time and focus on simple pleasures of countryside and local culture.
c) THE FREE-STYLER enjoys setting out with a GPS and minimal luggage for remote journeys such as island hopping. They love virtual travel and share their knowledge and experiences via the cloud.
d) THE IDEALIST uses holiday as a means of giving back, volunteering in their free time. They may also choose to stay at home to work on local community projects.
3) How will we go to the shops in 50 years time?
For the individual, less commuting is already a reality as more and more of us order a variety of goods online. Home-deliveries in the grocery sector have been established in most urban centres globally, alongside ‘growing your own’. Renewed interest in allotments – and the emergence of community garden and rooftop garden schemes in urban centers - brings a return of ‘Back to Basics’ approaches and an interest in discovering the origins of the products we consume. With Zero Carbon targets for 2050, low carbon lifestyle preferences will encourage ‘sustainable food storage’ to minimise journeys to the shops. We will also experiment with old-style cooking techniques to save energy, for instance, ‘green slow-cooking’ in the hay box.
This trend is going hand-in-hand with an increase in consumption of local products (farm shops, farmer’s markets and so on). As shopping habits are also influenced by health concerns, reducing the time and miles from field to table will become paramount. People are also becoming more concerned about their micro-environments - rejecting pastiches and proudly celebrating and protecting their cultural roots and community. This includes championing local produce and ‘heritage’ animal breeds and fruit and vegetable varieties. We will want to be able to find out exactly how far our foods and goods have travelled if we haven’t grown them/made them ourselves or bought them locally. The online database of products ‘Good Guide’ rates how healthy, environmentally friendly and ethical they are. The iPhone app guides consumers while in the process of shopping. I believe that will be the norm by 2050.
4) How will we survive going nowhere in 50 years time?
Intelligent Commuting is key and to envisage what the future might look like Copenhagen is very inspirational case. The city already has a very developed bicycle culture and an excellent urban infrastructure, making it one of the most ‘people friendly’ and environmentally advanced cities to live in. It is designed for walking and getting about by bicycle – cars come way down the priority list. The recent launch of Copenhagen-Wheel is a revolution as it allows residents and visitors to capture the energy dissipated while cycling and braking and save it up for when they need a bit of a power boost. It also maps pollution levels, traffic congestion, and road conditions in real-time. Controlled via a smart phone, it becomes a natural extension of everyday life.
5) Imagine yourself in 50 years time. Describe the way you will live, focusing on how much you will move for work and fun compared to today.
I will be a 99 years old, and imagine that home and my own locality will probably be my preferred location! Probably I will be working from home a few mornings a week. Together with my family I will have really long holidays in my seaside house. As for moving around, I will travel by high-speed train or super-safe podcar that will take me wherever I need to go.
6) Give me 5 solutions to commuting to the problem of moving around in the post-petroleum era.
1) The obvious one – Staying at Home
2) Collaborative Consumption – if we have to move we use share solutions.
3) ‘Groupon Style’ holidays and commuting to save money and our planet.
4) Bicycle Culture will grow and become a much more integrated part of society.
5) Clean Tech Solutions - Any means of transportation will be ZERO emission.