Shaping Analog Ecosystems

Written by Denis Krechting I Julian Kawohl

December 16, 2021

Designing a city’s neighborhood to be the central hub of people’s lives is an important first step to bring social, economic, and ecological change. Creating more holistic urban spaces by focusing on the needs of people is possible by applying ecosystem principles to their analogous living and working environments.

Successful sustainable development is led by three key principles – efficient construction, proper goal setting, and above all, a clear mission for an ecosystem of urban neighborhoods.

A Regional and Analog Approach

A key building block is the development of regional ecosystems applied to living and working quarters. This is because familiar ‘value chains’ are often replaced by ‘value networks’ in the form of ecosystems.

The architects of these ecosystems are currently the companies with the largest stock market value. They have succeeded in building global ecosystems and are now profiting from this role.

Apple’s value, for example, is essentially based on the fact that its products can be resold.

Approach According to the Ecosystem Principle

To develop our cities according to ecosystem principles that are economically, ecologically, and socially beneficial, three stages are required.

VISION 

The first and most important stage is to establish a vision for the urban ecosystem – where do you want it to go?

This enables investors, cities, and residents to understand exactly what the urban ecosystem should deliver for people in the future and what demands it will meet.

To provide an excellent example: The neighborhood makes effective use of natural resources and offers a unique, attractive, and healthy location to live and work in for people today and in the future.

MISSION

The goal of the next stage is to figure out and describe the future or current residents to whom the urban space should cater – what should the neighborhood accomplish?

Structuring people by categories such as “Sinus-Milieus” can be very helpful in differentiating the milieu to be addressed and providing services to them. 

We’ve picked a “performer” as an example.

The following key metrics for an urban ecosystem in the performer Milieu could be defined as:

  • High-quality apartments with the chance of shared work-spaces
  • Offers for childcare in the immediate surroundings
  • A high service level of delivery services and high-quality offers for daily needs

DESIGN

The final stage is to create ten “Life Areas” for the persona to construct an ecosystem.

The Life Areas are described first, to elaborate on the persona outlined above and understand them further. All of these demands must then be met in an urban environment, and the service portfolio modified to meet them.

Targeted implementation is most effective when carried out via a digital service, such as a neighborhood app, which combines all of the services and, if feasible, learns from their usage.

Only by doing this will it be possible to keep up with the fast rate of change in both the physical and digital markets. As a result, third-party providers can be incorporated to build on the ecosystem’s value even more, such as food delivery services or furnishing companies.

This development would be sustainable in three senses (economic, environmental, and social) since only products and services that are needed would be offered.

Overproduction, as described at the beginning, would then be avoided.

Classifying the players

But which role does each party play in this process, and what are the benefits for businesses?

A deeper look uncovers three business roles that may be assumed by firms:

Orchestrator

Bundles all services, offers, and benefits in the neighborhood into an overall package for the user.

Here property owners, project developers, and in individual cases, municipalities, will have the opportunity to position themselves to interact with residents in the long-term through the services offered and to continuously improve their offering based on data.

The neighborhood application described above can take a central role in technical orchestration.

Realizer

Companies in this role will provide their offers, such as local supply, mobility, leisure offers, and other consumer goods in the ecosystem, and offer the services via the orchestrator.

Companies that aren’t active in the ecosystem may utilize the information collected about residents’ behavior, habits, and lifestyles, to make or give targeted offers.

Enabler

This role is typically assumed by B2B firms that must develop infrastructure-side products at an early stage.

They are the builders of the “device” mentioned above.

In addition to construction companies, planners, and architects, they also include infrastructure manufacturers. They also have the potential to provide as much flexibility as possible for the realizers by loosening up the goods brought in, allowing them to better adapt their services to customer demands.

Conclusion 

The approach outlined above, separated into three stages, helps to simplify the enormously complex neighborhood development procedures to their core essentials by integrating the user, and the services they provide, into one concept.

The recipe for success is to start early involvement of politics, administration, financiers, and technology suppliers to get the most out of the projects. Across the board, the above goals become achievable, enabling our world to be economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable.

So today, rather than sitting in my car, I’m sitting in my apartment, knowing that if we are serious about transforming our society, neighborhoods and their ecosystems must be completely rethought.

Author Denis Krechting supported from Julian Kawohl


The article is originally from Changement Magazine (Handelsblatt).


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