The biggest impact that humans have had on the planet, has happened in the past 200 years, beginning with the industrial revolution. From that, we have been urbanizing at an exponential rate.”

– Geoffrey West, physicist, distinguished professor, Santa Fe Institute.

Ericsson’s latest Networked Society short film deals with one of the biggest societal trends today: urbanization.

Earth is currently home to 7 billion people, a figure that’s expected to soar to more than 9 billion by 2050, with 70% living in cities. Concurrently, technology is extending its reach, with these parallel trends intersecting at a time when the world’s facing serious economic, environmental, and social challenges. We need more sustainable development.

Thinking Cities explores the challenges and opportunities of urbanization in the Networked Society. Some of the world’s leading city-thinkers are interviewed for the film, including Geoffrey West, physicist and professor at Santa Fe Institute; Mathieu Lefevre of New Cities Foundation and Carlo Ratti, Director of MIT Senseable City Lab.

“For the first time in history, 52% of the world’s population live in cities,” explains Lefevre. “There are 200,000 new urban dwellers every day. That trend is accelerating, particularly in Asia, Africa, Latin America. By 2050, six billion people will live in cities.”

We’ve written about the concept of the so-called ‘Internet of things‘ before on The Next Web, a concept which describes the trend for environments, buildings, vehicles, clothing, portable devices and other objects (or ‘things’…) to have more information associated with them, and be able to sense, communicate, network and produce new information. This is just one of a number of areas covered in Thinking Cities, with the following categories getting a look-in: The science of cities, the talking city, the trash track project, the social city and the smart city

“Today, for the first time, our cities are becoming like real-time control systems,” says Ratti. “Technology is now becoming natural, atomized, distributed and is radically changing the way we interface with the city. It means that the city, or the buildings, or the objects, are starting to respond to us. To talk back to us.”

This 18-minute documentary follows On The Brink, which was launched last November, looking at the past, present and future of connectivity.

Thinking Cities is launching officially on YouTube tomorrow, but you can watch it here now.