It is not only connected machines that will drive efficiency and achievement in the future, but more connected people. Collaboration will be necessary to overcome the challenges the Connected Future will pose, and, thankfully, technological improvement is making it easier and easier for people from across the world to work together to solve problems.
We have already found that having scientists and engineers who are working on different, but related, projects talking to each other helps to spark ideas and illuminate conclusions. Collaboration cannot exist only internally, however—collaborating with startups, other companies, customers and additional partners will be a defining feature of successful companies in the future.
Where will we find these connected people generating growth? In all probability, it will be in cities. We are already seeing a vast expansion in the size of large cities—the UN estimates that by 2030, more than 50 percent of people will be city residents, amounting to approximately 5 billion urban residents as cities progressively become centers of economic value generation. Already today, large cities generate about 85 percent of U.S. GDP, close to 80 percent in China and 65 percent in Europe. It is estimated that by 2020, just 600 cities will generate 60 percent of the world’s entire economic value.
While there is a gigantic amount of economic value that can be unleashed within cities through collaboration and ideation between people located in close proximity, there are challenges that will need to be overcome to make this sort of population density work efficiently. Cities must become intelligent in nature, as well, allowing infrastructure systems to communicate and generate data that can be used to optimize logistics, resource usage and other aspects of city life.
This is where new intelligent lighting has a role to play. Technology like our nodes and sensors integrated into street lighting will become the nervous system for connected cities. Besides optimizing light output and energy consumption, connected city lighting will allow for more efficient traffic flow, weather monitoring, parking optimization, pollution monitoring and more. Because of its integral nature to human operations, lighting is a perfect platform to enable tomorrow’s brilliant industries, brilliant factories and brilliant world. Ironically, in many ways, the people who have pointed to modern technology as being incapable of bringing about the sort of change that electric lighting did more than a century ago may well be proved wrong by today’s electric lighting.
Ultimately, what will the economy of the future look like? There is as much uncertainty around this question as around any. From everything we can tell by analyzing trends today, however, the promise of efficiency and new possibilities driven by connected technologies indicates that a bright economic future will be dawning soon. The Connected Future is already here; the amount of economic benefit we can extract from it depends on the extent to which technology is embraced with enthusiasm and smarts as we scale up our connected infrastructure. Be on the forefront, and be rewarded.