The Smart City: An Evaluation

As part of my Graphic design communication course, we got to choose a completely separate topic that we would explore for a few weeks. I choose a topic called The Smart City where we explored the technology and innovations that help create modern day and future cities. Below is an evaluation of the project.

When looking at the selection of topics I knew from that start that I wanted to choose The Smart City. It was all about innovative technology and how it incorporates into our cities, which is something that really interests me. It was fascinating to learn about how technology such as AR, VR, artificial intelligence, smart data and lighting design will impact our every day lives in the future and what potential all of this new technology has. I have always been deeply interested in innovative technology, so being given the opportunity to look deeper into this area has been really enjoyable and it is something I will continue to explore and research.

Throughout the expanded practice sessions we had number of visits to innovative companies and organisations. The first one was to ARUP and engineering group who have worked on projects such as The Shard, 2012 Aquatics Centre and the Sydney Opera House to name a few. I found learning about lighting design really interesting as it is not a topic I would normally look into and I didn't realize who much work goes into planning lighting. I learned about how crucial the role of a lighting designer is and it has made me think differently about architecture and spaces. She also made us discuss together ways in which lighting could solve problems in our every day lives. This discussion was useful as it made me more confident discussing ideas and made us all actively engaged in the discussion. It was also great to see inside ARUPs large office building as it is a place I would not normally get to see.

Award winning lighting design by ARUP. The Broad Museum in Los Angeles. Photo by Hufton + Crow

Award winning lighting design by ARUP. The Broad Museum in Los Angeles. Photo by Hufton + Crow

My favorite visit was to Digital Greenwhich where we met some of the team who are modernising Greenwhich into the city of the future. Learning about how driverless cars will be an ordinary part of the modern day city was fascinating. The presentations were really in-depth and the Q&A session afterwards was really beneficial as I was able to ask questions directly to the people working on this project. I leaned so much about what a 'Smart City' really is and It has opened my eyes to how much innovation is taking place behind the scenes in London.

We also visited Holition who showed us around their offices. They create software that uses augmented reality and data. We got to try out some of their apps such as a make up app for L'Oréal that uses augmented reality to show their make up on your face, letting you try before you buy. It was great getting to touch and use their apps as we learned about how they made them and then got the opportunity to play on them. Most interesting of all was a large wall projection that showed live data from users of shopping app. As users looked at products, the wall chart showed which brands were most popular in real time. This was really interesting as I had no idea technology like this was being used by companies, It was interesting to watch and compare the data in real time as it was presented in a gamified way.

Still take from a video from Holition  Grabble data visualization. Available at:

Still take from a video from Holition Grabble data visualization. Available at:

This whole expanded practice was really enjoyable and a real eye-opener to just how much research, development and innovation takes place in London. The visits were really useful seeing the different companies' offices and what they were working on it showed me how quickly technology is evolving. This is definitely something I will continue to look into in the future as it was so interesting to me. 

Adam Marsh