With a global population explosion underway and increasing numbers of people migrating to urban centres, some argue that cities will have to get smarter or face collapse. Which is why, according to industry analysts, the “smart city” will represent a $39.5bn (£25.1bn) marketplace by 2016.
Whole new cities, such as Songdo in South Korea, have already been constructed according to this template. Its buildings have automatic climate control and computerised access; its roads and water, waste and electricity systems are dense with electronic sensors to enable the city’s brain to track and respond to the movement of residents. But such places retain an eerie and half-finished feel to visitors – which perhaps shouldn’t be altogether surprising.