What if we could design our city's buildings and infrastructure to support larger communities of people? Although our modern cities are not perfect, they certainly can be efficient at providing services to large numbers of people. As the world population increases, more people move to cities every year. Not only do cities provide economic opportunity but the promise of improved living conditions for families.
Statistics show that in 2012, 5.3 percent of the world's population was urbanized. That is more than 3.71 billion people and it keeps growing. People in cities have better access to healthcare, education, and other social services that keep them healthier and better cared for. But is this urbanization trend sustainable?
Urbanization Trends Keep Growing
2008 was a pivotal year. Not only did the world economy suffer from a recession but it also marked the first time ever that half of the world's people now called a city home. Fifty years before it was only 30 percent and in 1908 only 10 percent of the global population lived in an urban area. The statistics are undeniable.
As we go into the future, the world's urban population is expected to reach 5 billion in 2030 and in 2100 another 3-5 billion will move into the world's cities. The amount of urbanized people will have reached 6.4-8.4 billion people.
As urbanization continues, real estate developers and governments need to implement strategies to accommodate these growing needs. The need for affordable housing will increase and the world will need to adapt to its changing environment. Despite these challenges, what benefits does urbanization bring?
Urbanized Populations Get Better Access to Water
In rural areas, the amount of support people can receive is stifled. Because irrigation systems are limited and plumbing can be non-existent or out-dated, water-based contaminates might prosper and destroy these vulnerable populations. An urban environment provides easier access to water and sanitation processes that keep populations of people healthier.
In Colorado water shortages are in the news. The recent Colorado Water Conversation Board plan outlines how officials will ensure Colorado has enough water to accommodate it's growing population that is expected to double to 10 million by 2050. Currently Colorado cities only use about 7 percent of the water supply indicating that much of the water goes elsewhere.
Arizona faces similar water shortage predictions. Recently Arizona has decided to focus on resolving water disputes that have been going on since the early 1900s. Reclaimed water has long been used in parks but soon might be considered for potable uses. Because of Arizona's large rural parts, water access is not efficiently utilized especially in the desert landscape where it is sparse to begin with.
Since 2005, urbanization statistics show that the percentage of the world's urban population that have access to improved sanitation facilities keeps rising. In 2012, 79 percent of these people have access to improved sanitation facilities that keep populations healthier while in 2005 78.2 percent did.
Facing Our Urban Future
It is no question that the world will need to adapt to the massive changes indicated by the statistics.
Urbanization as a trend will only grow and must be planned for strategically. As more real estate developers and city planners prepare for the massive shift of the world's population from the rural outskirts to the urban interior, innovative solutions will revolutionize our city's landscapes and create sustainable solutions.