What Are 15 Minute Neighborhoods and How Is Technology Helping?
In recent years, several North American cities have announced official plans to create communities of “15-minute neighborhoods.” In doing so, these cities hope to shift focus away from sprawl toward urban intensification – with an aim toward being more liveable.
For many people, this was their first introduction to the concept of 15-minute neighborhoods. Is it a fast-paced neighborhood? Are they smaller neighborhoods, easily traversed in a short period? And then the punditry followed: “Are 15-minute neighborhoods having their fifteen minutes of fame?” one publication asked.
The truth is, 15-minute neighborhoods aren’t new, nor are they unique to North America. Arguably, the concept stretches back centuries to the urban hubs of Europe and Asia. More recently, Paris embraced the concept – as it’s known today – to help create a better urban standard of living. Several progressive cities throughout the world followed suit.
And that begs the question: Should all major cities plan 15-minute neighborhoods? How does a city even go about doing that? And how can emerging companies like REEF Technology – at reeftechnology.com – help?
What Are 15-Minute Neighbourhoods?
In brief, 15-minute neighborhoods are centralized urban areas where you can access most – or all – of your daily needs with a 15-minute walk from home. Groceries, takeout, toiletries, medicine, home goods, etc. – all of those things in convenient reach.
In part, 15-minute neighborhoods are a course correction against car dependency. Whereas in most sprawling neighborhoods, citizens need a vehicle to access goods and amenities quickly, they don’t need them in 15-minute neighborhoods. And they don’t need to make lengthy transit commutes, either.
Moreover, closely-knit neighborhoods, dense with local businesses, promote local shopping. They foster a sense of community and collaboration. And they reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Pretty sensible, right?
How to Create 15-Minute Neighbourhoods
Save for a few densely packed pockets in downtown cores, major North American cities tend to feature sprawling metro areas comprising several disconnected population centers. Take a look at Chicagoland, the Golden Horseshoe around Toronto, Greater Los Angeles, or the Miami-Fort Lauderdale agglomeration in Southern Florida. There’s no shortage of examples you can point to.
The city experience for many in these sprawling metro areas is inconvenient at best – inaccessible at worst. If cities are serious about enriching communities, lowering greenhouse gases, and empowering citizens to make locally-minded spending choices, they should consider the following examples set by cities like Portland, Detroit, and Ottawa. They should consider the 15-minute neighborhood.
The key to turning sprawling metro areas into liveable networks of 15-minute neighborhoods is focusing efforts on proximity, density, and accessibility.
There are several steps toward achieving a robust 15-minute neighborhood. You need pedestrianized thoroughfares and safe, abundant bike lanes. You need high-density infill development that rededicates open land to housing. And, crucially, you need to fill your dead spaces with local retail, amenities, and services. In that last step, one neighborhood company, in particular, leads the charge.
The Technology on the Forefront of Enriching Communities
As Yahoo! Finance reports, Reef Technology (mentioned in the intro) recently raised money to leverage cutting-edge software, hardware, and management services to enrich communities.
Reef Technology leases open urban spaces, like parking lots, and fills them with modular businesses applications like delivery kitchens, retail hubs, and micro-healthcare clinics. What this does is turn these spaces into thriving community hubs.
Creating 15-minute neighborhoods takes time. It takes ingenuity, forward-thinking, and a sense of civic pride. City-dwellers across North America possess all those characteristics. With their help, companies like Reef Technology can help enrich communities through proximity to basic needs and local business.
This article has been scheduled in accordance with Socialnomics’ disclosure policy.