FutureSight - 27 Apr 2010
It has been over a decade now that internet and mobile communication have been integrated into our daily live We are now approaching the reality where information technology embeds itself into urban planning and architecture. CloudMrkt is an example of how new media might converge with urbanism.
Internet and mobile communication bring people and ideas together. Email, Twitter, social media and gaming celebrate the sharing of knowledge and experience. This share-care communication is a human quality that will be enhanced when digital media has a physical meeting point. In other words can there be a physical manifestation of the web like data dynamics associated with the web. There is a structure that resembles this dynamic: airports.
Airports are nods in a network and manage flow digitally, on the ground and in the air. We walk into an airport and look up on the screens to see real time arrivals and departures. The waiting rooms have news broadcasts, refreshments and entertainment. Likewise, our urban landscape today is a juxtaposition of digital and telecommunication flows that are coexisting and interacting with the built environment.
Airports manage flows and connections. Global office networks create flexible working environments based on time sharing and like mindedness. Usually part of a global network, one’s rent is valid in any building that is part of that network. Furthermore, there is a corresponding digital network that is a desktop widget facilitating resource sharing and job hunting. Finally, the workspaces and digital networks come together in a branded and hosted place experience.
CloudMrkt takes the flow management of an airport and the spatial / network community element of the flexible work space and scales it up to a much larger urban district. The area being explored for such an intervention in Amsterdam is Westpoort-Oost; an industrial / business region with 350 companies and a logistical infrastructure for freight and commerce. What CloudMrkt proposes is a local area enhanced with a crowd sourcing toolkit that proliferates economies of scale and quality of life.
This becomes evident the moment a company begins renting and turns on its computers and mobile devices to find software tool kit and a desktop messaging platform called Exchange. The software tool kit would have office / data management / and design tools supported by a private server. The idea is that the unit cost of licensing and purchasing software gets reduced by opportunities of scale. Think of what currently happens with collective insurance and savings plans, the same clubbing together is appropriated in CloudMrkt. Linking all the companies together requires an appreciation for transparency and an open source mentality. For those companies that can embody the network society will find that cutting costs will find it’s way into other services like legal and accounting. And even more significant, finding the right people skills in the process of creating project teams will be made easier with Exchange.
Exchange is a real time supply and demand messaging board that lists the activities of all the companies in the CloudMrkt. You see it on your devices and in screens installed in each CloudMrkt building. By the entrance of the building or next to the coffee machine the screens posts business activities, news flashes, requests for help and job offers. The value here is that your company is not alone anymore and is just as applicable to freelancers as it is to small medium and large sized companies. Each CloudMrkt member can sea each other, like in Gmail or Facebook you see a list of friends and people on line. It’s the same idea, except for a fundamental difference that here there is a physical place where people can meet. Coming face to face with your client, partner and friend is a key ingredient to relationship building and trust.
Each region will have a centrally located building hosting the Cloud Café and Cloud Conference Center. Interviews, brainstorms, barter transactions, lunches and networking activities can all find there place here. Just ask the crowd, this is your community.
The Cloud Café his will include three digital walls: the Dream Wall, Data Wall and the Exchange. The Dream Wall is where members can share ideas they are passionate about like Google’s 20 percent time policy or what traditionally happened on a bulletin board. The difference now is that everyone can share and build on it, this is where innovation can happen.
The Data Wall measures energy use, carbon emission, heat loss and data analytics. This feature empowers residents and companies to see exactly where energy is being used and therefore enabling the possibility to make efficiency and sustainability amendments based on that real time data. In addition to eco tracking, analytic data provides Cloud Café with a real time digital ambiance reminiscent of the stock exchange trading floor.
The Exchange Wall is the real time supply and demand messaging board that everybody has on their desktops and mobile devices. Companies who are open will find that they will share talents, barter goods and services, do collaborative projects, grow faster and realize that resources are much closer. The ability to professionally crowd source promotes efficiency in terms of finding talent but also in terms of reducing transportation costs and licensing fees. The way the city is set up now, one doesn’t know their neighbor let alone the staff, resources and business visions of the company across the street. CloudMrkt is proposing that it’s possible to build in networking and resource sharing capabilities.
The Cloud Conference Center is a flexible meeting / conference space that is self organized by the business community. Their is a host and a system manager but ultimately this space is there for when a company needs to make presentations, hold conferences and form larger teams that expand beyond their walls at home. When connectivity is increased in a business region specialities will emerge. Diverse CloudMrkt regions will develop their own specialities that are industry specific like a creative hub full of marketing and media companies versus a logistical region with freight and global commerce and or an engineering market that has a speciality in design and software. Over time, multiple CloudMrkts in a city will form the way districts have organized themselves in the past like a China Town, Banking District or Art Quarter. The difference now being that new media facilitate this self organizing dynamic. It will even be possible that a CloudMrkt, which is a collection of companies and professionals, will receive project opportunities that are offered to the area as a whole. It’s scaling up the dynamic that appears at a company level into a multiple company districts.
How realistic is this concept? Well, this ambition isn’t a far fetched scenario for Star Trek, it’s a bottom line consideration that any property developer has had since the invention of stones. How does a developer make an area interesting to move into too, hence increasing it’s attraction power and ultimately it’s property value. Simply put, why should I move here and will my property gain value overtime. Today, like never before, it’s fundamentally possible to view planning from a combined perspective that includes digital media and physical space. What’s on offer is instant networking, a digital tool kit and a place to meet and make it all happen. It’s up to the people to create there dreams and organize themselves, new urban media provide the infrastructure to do that more efficiently.
Text and concept by Carl William Kerchmar, www.portaltoyourdreams.com
Visualization and concept by Jesse Lavalaye, noolio+, www.noolioplus.com
Special thanks to Placemakers