An enviable title for any city’s reputation or economic status is to be ranked on a list of the best places to live in the world. Often, these lists identify traits of the most innovative, efficient or prosperous places across the globe. Design in smart cities — urban areas where human and social capital combine with information and communication technologies (ICT) to create sustainable and cost-efficient environments — considers the lives and roles of people in its infrastructure. A major strength of smart cities is the way in which they highlight the importance of human health in design.
While the new wave of sustainable architecture and design within office spaces prioritizes health, comfort and safety, an aspect commercial real estate often fails to recognize on a multifunctional level is the role of human psychology.
Since smart cities already lay the foundations for human-centric design principles, these psychological concepts can help complement their mission:
Bo-miljø And Human-Centered Design Concepts
Currently, high-end technologies used within smart cities provide an efficient — rather than effective — way of operating, but they don’t always offer optimal environments for citizens. Yet, when technology is utilized to provide inclusive, stimulating and interconnected modes of communication and information sharing within physical space, it can transform an environment in the form of a Bo-miljø, or living environment, theory of design.
The Bo-miljø philosophy was conceived by Ingrid Gehl and formed from systematic research by Ingrid and her husband Jan Gehl. They found that towns and cities with thriving and lively activity were often built before the arrival of post-WWII rational concepts of design, which modeled buildings and streets as a system of machines. Ingrid Gehl argued that cities could meet the demand for human contact or privacy, enhancing how we experience, learn, create, share, play or even exercise. Gehl offered eight principles, or environmental requirements, that can help shape more happy and humane living environments: human contact, privacy, varied experiences, purposefulness, play, structure and orientation within environment, ownership and identification with the community and space, and aesthetics and beauty.
To implement these changes, modern real estate investors should focus on establishing opportunities for bo miljø activities like walking, playing and conversing in high-traffic areas, but also in public areas or neighborhoods with limited resources. Including these principles in commercial buildings can further establish a well-developed human psyche. Already, we’ve seen major cities like New York City and Philadelphia implement high-rise parks for walking, exercising and conversing.
New construction should emphasize physical and mental stimulation through Bo-miljø principles by incorporating more interactive games and art, open space, and areas for recreational activities, with interconnected technologies for the spread of communication and information.
Transtheoretical Model Of Behavior Change
The transtheoretical model of behavior change — a psychotherapy theory that assesses an individual’s readiness to create healthier behaviors through strategies or guided stages — can also help a smart city’s tech strategies develop. Since citizens are learning how to coexist with emerging and more efficient technologies that will help the city’s functionality and, therefore, the people in it, this method allows city designers and planners to gage how to create and integrate user-friendly tools that are imbedded in the fabric of a smart city’s function.
In implementing these applications, real estate developers can discover several key considerations. First, they must minimize intellectual overload with clear, easy-to-use functions. Within places like transportation hubs and parks, technologies can be incorporated into stations that support interconnected devices within a wireless cloud that can provide behavior concepts and help healthily challenge and psychologically improve upon citizens’ well-being.
These concepts can be implemented in traditional cities, but smart cities have the opportunity to improve upon them in more deliverable ways with a focus on IoT and big data initiatives in commercial buildings and public areas. For instance, Chicago’s Array of Things integrates big data sensors mounted on light posts to collect real-time information on the local environment and urban activity. This allows communities to proactively monitor and learn about issues from pollution and congestion to community services.
These projects are sustainable and improve urban planning, and real-time linked data spaces accessed through big data and IoT can offer solutions to the psychological needs of citizens, including human contact and varied, interactive experiences. Big data can also offer analysis of group and individual experiences from recreational functions to the aesthetic and cleanliness ratings for a city’s public spaces.
By 2020, it’s expected that the global market for smart urban services will be valued at $1.5 trillion. As IoT and big data become increasingly implemented in the future, real estate developers need to invest in properties with emerging technologies that are user-friendly and, through community feedback, implement cloud systems and devices that make their buildings and public spaces experiential hubs that keep citizens engaged, happy and coming back for more time.
Evolutionary Psychology Frameworks
A recent paper in the Journal of Urban Design and Mental Health asserts that focusing on urban design from an evolutionary psychological framework can help pose considerations for smart solutions to common human psychological traits in high-functioning cities.
Existing spaces need to be upgraded with technology that allows for communication and interaction. Often, public spaces features operate so that people focus on their smartphones or devices alone. However, strategic arrangement of seating areas and tables that use interconnected technologies can lead to improved face-to-face interactions that foster diversity and creativity.
Optimal Group Size
Research suggests that human brains evolved to manage social groups of about 150 people. In densely urban areas, this creates a problem. Big data security measures can offer better security in public spaces. To improve the psychological toll of abundant interaction, cities can plan for “restorative niches” that support only 150 people in public areas.
Focusing on these principles will allow developers to construct and design with the well-being of people in mind, but it also shows how citizen feedback and the democratization of technology are essential during the planning and design process. While trends often change, incorporating these psychological insights will make for sustainable, long-lasting commercial real estate investments.
– Human Psychology As An Essential Tool For Building Smart Real Estate