Future Cities Trends and Implications Study Examines Global Trends in City Development, Impact of Urbanization on Defense

A new study by the UK’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) – ‘Future Cities Trends and Implications’ – examines global trends in city development and how the changing face of cities and increasing urbanization will impact defense in the future.

DSTL’s analysts examined a broad range of factors – such as  the influence of technology and smart cities, climate and demographic changes, economic integration, and infrastructure developments. The output from the report is expected to help the UK military determine where there are significant challenges on the horizon and better prepare for them. Urban warfare and ‘grey zone’ conflicts are becoming priority areas for defense therefore DSTL is looking for ways to adapt and overcome the challenges that urban terrain presents now, and will present in the near future.

The report predicts “routine online usage will no longer be confined to computers and phones. Other devices will increasingly be interconnected to one another through the Internet of Things.” It also examines environmental factors, such as a rise in pollution levels and rising water inequality, leading to greater sources of conflict. The rapid expansion of cities may make it impossible to isolate or by-pass urban areas, making smart cities the new front line.

“Increasing verticality and the ’urban canyon’ (as well as subterranean) will impose severe constraints on UK intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR), fire and maneuver capabilities. Verticality also concentrates the population making them more accessible to both the UK and adversaries posing both opportunities and challenges.”

A DSTL spokesperson said the report is vital for its Ministry of Defense customers to understand the future of cities and how it will impact on their operational requirements and emerging doctrine.