The impact on how dense cities function and how people that live in them interact, has been undeniable. In this regard, the pandemic has posed challenges, reinforced, and shifted trends. So how could cities change their trajectory and create a more sustainable, equitable and inclusive future whilst tackling those challenges? By investing in their most important asset: people.
When thinking about what really matters when investing in new technologies or building “smart cities”, the number one question should be: how can we make people’s lives better? This can’t be discussed without calling at least two critical areas into question:
Mobility: micro and shared versus owned.
In recent years, cities have invested heavily in public transport and sharing mobility technologies given their sustainable and affordable value-proposition. While the pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in these services it has also created heightened interest in micro-mobility solutions such as biking, scooters ( solo trips in city environments are preferred to shared travels) and of course…walking!
And if this trend had a positive effect on the planet, it has now combined with an opposite trend: car ownership. The pandemic has shifted the way people regard their car, as this effect is mainly due to growing concerns about health and hygiene. According to EY, cars’ demand has increased especially among Millennials. According to a report by Zipcar, four in five US city residents think car ownership is essential and 41% have either purchased a vehicle during the pandemic or are considering doing so.
Locality: proximity wins over long distances
What about the urban environment? Regarding public spaces, cities have sought to promote a more equitable use, splitting it between different types of users and modes of mobility. Consequently, there has been a significant increase in pedestrian and shared-use streets and more bicycle lanes. This has also made clear that our approach should be focused on proximity as cities should be designed for shorter distances not faster speeds. With the pandemic, residents have become more aware of the important role of their living environments. In fact, local residential streets have become the epicenter of daily life as each neighborhood has become a tiny town on its own.
Many people never visited their local grocery store before; they didn’t know the parks nearby. We have rediscovered our neighborhood and appreciated our local area. There were so many things we didn’t know of or took for granted. Now we can’t live without our local bakery! This brings to the resurgence of a new urban planning model, the “15-minute city” that not only could create stronger local communities but that seems almost custom-built for this “localized” future.
It is very likely that the post-pandemic world will be a hybrid of traditional and emerging mobility solutions as safety, sustainability and independence are three factors citizens consider essential. So what is it necessary to improve their mobility while ordering the chaotic urban landscape? Creating the optimal mobility mix through an “orchestrator”, able to make mobility optimized, sustainable and easily accessible whilst preventing car ownership from surging. But as we move differently, we also consume differently. That’s why it is essential to promote these new models that favor locality, foster vibrant communities, and to keep inhabitants engaged. Could a Marketplace that combines mobility integrated into spaces and local purchases make a difference? We believe so!
GaiaGo is the first platform that integrates sustainable mobility into spaces, aggregates it whilst creating a local Marketplace for mobility time credits.