(CNN)When you hear of urban transformations, you tend to think of high-rise mega-cities like Shanghai, Dubai or Hong Kong. Or if it’s technological advances, San Francisco and Silicon Valley might come to mind.
Take Kalasatama, a city being built from scratch on the outskirts of Helsinki, Finland. Developers say that by its completion in 2030, residents will get an average hour of their day back by living there.
City residents will never again be stuck behind a rubbish lorry on their commute. Engineers have outfitted the whole city with a vacuum waste system, where people simply take their trash to a port and it gets sucked to an underground disposal center.
Another time-saving design is the city layout itself. Public services, such as schools, hospitals and transportation are close to one another and easily accessible.
“Five more minutes walking in the park, five more minutes with the kids before I have to leave for work, five more minutes earlier at home when I don’t have to spend on logistics,” Kerkko Vanhanen, the program director for Smart Kalasatama, tells CNN.
“Your life is easier because of living in the most functional city in the world,” he adds.
However, only 3,500 people currently live in Kalasatama. By 2030, developers hope to have housed 25,000 people and created 10,000 jobs.
With 68% of humanity expected to live in urban areas by 2050, according to a 2018 UN report, urban expansion and innovation are vital.
“There’s been a real focus to rejuvenate this area. And to make it a center first of all of tourism but also to take efforts to make it a place for investment in an industry,” says Jonathan Reichental, an expert on emerging technology trends in urban environments.
High-tech conveniences come at the cost of sharing personal data.
“Data about you is used for delivering all sorts of both public and private services. And people are concerned about what that means to their privacy,” says Reichental.
As smart cities evolve, governments need to gain the trust of citizens to use their private data responsibly, says Udo Kock, deputy mayor of Amsterdam, where an open data program is helping to make it one of Europe’s most innovative environments.
“Don’t think of Smart Cities as just a technology solution, think of it as collaboration. Involve communities, involve citizens and it’s very important for governments to work together with businesses and private citizens,” says Kock.
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