Landscape Architects’ Guide the Smart City Conversation
This summer seemed to provide exceptional focus for outdoor experiences, whether close to home or planned treks into the wilderness. Pandemic restrictions have shown that people’s desire to connect to nature has become a high priority in response to a lack of other recreational opportunities.
Seeking the Outdoors
Working remotely has its negative impacts on fitness and social isolation; too much time sitting in front of a computer screen has driven many people to seek the outdoors to counter the sedentary lifestyle.
All walks of life are reconnecting to nature through a variety of recreational activities, from strolls through neighbourhoods, cycling along trails, or hiking to that special destination to embark on the half-day adventure.
Today’s pandemic world is different, with access to mobile technology and reliance on staying continually connected outdoors to track steps, share experiences on social media, and explore destinations, while remaining always present for the next video chat.
All levels of government are recognizing the importance of internet access for Canadians, especially in remote, rural communities who are falling behind in the so-called “digital divide.”
Connecting remote locations has historically been cost prohibitive, but with many more satellites and advances in 5G and LTE networks, the blanket of the connected outdoors is spreading. In fact, in June, the Canadian government announced they would spend almost $16 million to bring internet access to about 7,500 homes in rural Ontario alone.
With this technology comes new opportunities to introduce unique elements into the outdoors. Landscape architects are in a great position to lead that aesthetic solution.
Wi-Fi transmitters incorporated into street light poles, or slim mini cell towers along public streets, charging stations, and interactive trail maps will bring a host of opportunities for new design solutions.
The time for our profession to respond to a rapidly changing outdoor environment has never been more pressing.
Steve Barnhart, OALA, CSLA