Disruptive urban innovations are urgently needed. While our planet is going through the most rapid phase of urbanisation of all times, many urgent issues are accompanying this growth in the fields such as safety, health, social cohesion, climate change, waste management or air pollution.

Current estimates suggest that by 2050 the world will be inhabited by 9 billion people, 80% of whom will live in cities (United Nations). The pressure on society is huge and therefore cities around the world collaborate with big data specialists, developers, designers, strategic thinkers and innovators to become more liveable. Check out 8 examples of disruptive urban innovations  that changed the way we live, work, eat and move in cities.

Sharing city

Today, consumption is becoming increasingly based on collaboration such as sharing, exchanging and lending goods instead of owning them. Websites such as Airbnb make it easier to rent out unused residential places, or Oszkár helps car drivers to be found by others who go to the same destination. Even office space can now be consumed collaboratively (aka coworking spaces), providing users with much greater choice and control in picking the most appropriate work environments on an as-needed basis. Co-housing and co-living are also a manifestations of the sharing economy where (typically) young entrepreneurs live and work together in communes.

Urban farming

To feed all the 7,2 billion people who will be urban residents in 2050, the complete global food system needs to be rethought. Think moving farms up to roofs of buildings or using walls to grow gardens, or using soil-less, hydroponic systems to grow food right on the consumer’s doorstep. Such systems can feed nutrients straight to the roots, using up to 10 times less water than traditional means. Not to mention bringing more nature into cities as another positive effect of vertical urban farming.

Cardless payments

Banks and fintech companies are developing innovative solutions for consumers to pay for goods and withdraw cash without credit or debit cards, offering entirely new ways to transact. We can store our financial details on our smartphones and use the digital wallets for secure and instant payments.

Ready to print buildings

A new home from sketch in 24 hours? Today, with 3D printing it is possible. For instance, Icon, a construction tech company who is a pioneer in this field, just partnered up with a Silicon Valley-based non-profit organisation to create 3D-printed homes in 24 hours for people in poverty for roughly $4,000 in rural El-Salvador. That’s what we call truly disruptive urban innovations!


Crossing the language barriers

Google’s Translate App now can use our camera to translate words and even long text in real time. This feature is particularly useful when we travel in a country where we do not speak the language. For instant translations to become a reality we only need to download the app and select the language from which and to which we need the translation. Opening the little camera icon, and pointing it to the text that need to be translated, we get the translation on our screen real-time. A spontaneous weekend away in Beijing, anyone?


Driverless cars

We used to see driverless cars in sci-fi movies. Nowadays autonomous car technology is becoming a reality. Fully-driverless technology is still under testing phase, nevertheless, partially automated cars have been around for many years already – just think about BMW7’s automated parking feature. The Google Car is probably one of the most famous autonomous vehicles, equipped with a wide range of sensors to interact with the world around. Now obviously self-driving cars need better and more connected infrastructure, but the lack of human interaction with the car represents an even larger and more significant challenge for the technology to be a real solution for the future of mobility. Disruptive urban innovation at its best.


Underground transportation rethought

In the past few months, Elon Musk’s Boring Company has been busy building an underground tunnel beneath the city of Los Angeles where cars would drive onto electrically-powered sled-like devices that would then descend underground and zip through the tunnels at more than 120 miles per hour. According to Musk, the subterranean transportation system would solve problem related to “soul destroying traffic” in cities. This sounds like the future of environment efficient and fast underground transportation.


Meal kit delivery services

In this busy world, sometimes the last think we want to do is think about what to cook and go shopping after a long day at work. Thankfully, many healthy meal kit delivery services are popping up like HelloFresh or Gousto. The way these companies help you is delivering the ingredients of your selected meals with easily understandable recipes right to your door. You only have to rediscover your inner chef without going crazy with meal planning and shopping. Sounds good?


The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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