Let me start by saying I am not a futurist, at least not based on how futurists define themselves.
Last week I wrote about the simple steps we can take to survive the Corona Virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, and has now been declared as a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation. Today I am going to focus on a few ways in which this will change the future of urban living.
We know how this virus spreads. Therefore, we’ve all been told to stay at home unless we do a job that requires us to be at a certain place to do it, such as construction and factory workers, supermarket assistants, doctors, nurses etc. Due to this, most cities in the world on a lockdown or a semi-lockdown. This means, fewer vehicles on the road, leading to little or no congestion, reduced levels of pollution and an improved air quality. When we measure current air quality and compare it to let’s say December 2019, we should see a distinctive improvement.
Benefit 1: Improvement in air quality, supported by evidence driven by measurement data and comparison.
As a result of this lockdown, a lot of us are working from home. Most of us only need a computer and an Internet connection. Even a phone is optional. Employers have, perhaps with a certain degree of reluctance, accepted that they have to let their employees work from home due to this crisis. With this new-found freedom, employees should be able to demonstrate that they are more productive, and are able to get more done. As a result, eventually the employer apprehension will turn to trust. A measurement here is to look at employee happiness and its impact on productivity, which will show a direct correlation between the two.
Benefit 2: Employees free to work from where they want to tend to be more productive and thus overall productivity goes up.
Crumbling infrastructure, unreliable public transport and traffic jams have a detrimental effect on numerous things. This lockdown has shown that if all unnecessary commute can be avoided, the load on our physical infrastructure will reduce significantly, and those that must commute to work will have an easier journey to and from work. Commutes and travel will become smarter, faster and safer for various reasons. Fewer vehicles on the road will mean reduced probability of crashes, better flowing traffic, better behaving drivers, lesser pollution, and a lower carbon footprint. This will also result in increased convenience of commute for people, resulting in happier people. A measurement here will be to look at average commute times for each mode of transport in various locations.
Benefit 3: Measures to reduce traffic and commute journeys that would have once been considered unacceptable and inconvenient will now become the norm.
All of this is amazing but what are the challenges that this new world order will present? Let’s see next week.
- Better air quality due to significant reduction of vehicles on the roads and rails
- Happier and more productive workforce, due to the freedom to work from anywhere they want, and being measured on throughput
- Less burden on the physical infrastructure, improved journey times and commute experience