Introduction

Over the past decades, cities around the world have faced a number of growing challenges related to urbanization, including increased traffic, air pollution and loss of quality of life. In response to these challenges, urban planner Carlos Moreno has proposed the concept of the "15-minute city." This model, which aims to create more livable and sustainable communities, is gaining global attention. In this article we will explore the principles of the 15-minute city, its benefits, the challenges of implementing it, and some examples of cities that are adopting this approach.

The principles of the 15-minute city

The 15-minute city concept is based on four basic principles:

Proximity: all essential services, including work, education, shopping, health services, and recreational spaces, should be within a maximum of 15 minutes walking or cycling distance from one's home. This reduces the need for long daily commutes.

Diversity: Urban areas should accommodate a variety of land uses. This diversity supports a range of economic and social activities, making communities more resilient and dynamic.

Inclusiveness: 15-minute cities should ensure equitable access to services for all communities, regardless of income, ethnicity or social status. This principle promotes equality and social cohesion.

Sustainability: Reducing car use and promoting more sustainable means of transportation, such as walking and cycling, decreases the environmental impact of cities, helping to combat climate change and improve air quality.

The benefits of the 15-minute city

Adopting the 15-minute city model brings with it a number of significant benefits:

Reduced traffic and pollution: with fewer people commuting by car, there is less traffic and, consequently, less air pollution. This improves air quality and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Health improvement: walking and cycling are physical activities that improve cardiovascular and mental health. In addition, having access to green spaces and sports facilities nearby promotes a more active lifestyle.

Social cohesion: 15-minute cities promote greater interaction among residents. The presence of public and community spaces facilitates socialization and strengthens neighborhood ties.

Economic resilience: diversification of local economic activities makes communities more resilient to economic crises. Local small businesses can thrive in an environment where residents shop and use nearby services.

Quality of life: reducing time spent on daily commuting frees up time for other activities, improving the overall well-being of citizens. The availability of services and infrastructure within a short distance makes daily life easier and more enjoyable.

Smart cities and 15-minute cities: the technological aspects

Smart technologies play a crucial role in supporting the 15-minute city model, making urban areas more efficient, sustainable and livable. One of the key tools is the Internet of Things (IoT), which uses sensors to collect real-time data on traffic, air quality, energy consumption and service availability. This data can be analyzed to optimize urban resource management and improve citizens' quality of life.

Digital platforms are another key element, facilitating access to urban services. Mobile applications and online portals enable residents to book medical appointments, find local stores, attend community events, and use public transportation more efficiently. Smart mobility, which includes integrated public transportation systems and bike and car-sharing services, helps reduce dependence on private cars, thereby decreasing traffic and pollution.

Finally, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies can be used to proactively predict and respond to city needs. For example, advanced algorithms can optimize public transportation routes, improve waste management, and increase urban security through smart surveillance.

Implementation challenges

Despite its many benefits, implementation of the 15-minute city model presents several challenges:

Planning and infrastructure: reorganizing existing cities to conform to the model requires a significant investment in urban planning and infrastructure. This includes creating bike lanes, safe sidewalks, and adequate public spaces.

Social equity: ensuring that all neighborhoods, including the least affluent, have equitable access to services is critical. This requires policies that prevent gentrification and promote social inclusion.

Cultural change: adopting the 15-minute city model requires a change in the habits and mindset of citizens, who may be accustomed to being car-dependent. Education and awareness are crucial to the success of the model.

Political and public support: The support of local and national governments, as well as the public, is essential for the implementation of the model. This can include incentives for the use of sustainable transportation and sustainability-oriented urban development policies.

Examples of 15-minute cities

Some cities are already taking concrete steps toward adopting the 15-minute city model:

Paris, France: Mayor Anne Hidalgo is a leading proponent of the 15-minute city model. Paris is implementing policies to reduce car traffic, increase green spaces, and improve accessibility to essential services. One example is the creation of "super-îlots" where car traffic is restricted and streets are reserved for pedestrians and cyclists.

Melbourne, Australia: the city has adopted the "Plan Melbourne" plan that calls for the development of 20 "20-minute cities" within the metropolitan area. This plan aims to ensure that all residents can access essential services within a short radius of their homes.

Portland, United States: Portland is known for its sustainable urbanism policies and has begun to incorporate elements of the 15-minute city model into its urban development plan. This includes promoting walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, as well as encouraging local small businesses.

The smart city and the convenient city: Giulia Agrosì's contribution

In her book "The Smart City and the Comfortable City," Giulia Agrosì further explores the concepts of smart city and "comfortable city," exploring how digital technologies can be integrated into urban policies to improve quality of life. The concept of the "convenient city" aligns closely with that of the 15-minute city, emphasizing the importance of citizen-centered urban planning.

Agrosì discusses the use of smart technologies such as IoT sensors, digital platforms and smart mobility systems to create more efficient and sustainable cities. These tools can support the 15-minute city model by making urban services more accessible and improving urban resource management.

The book also places a strong emphasis on inclusiveness and sustainability, key issues for 15-minute cities. Agrosì emphasizes the importance of ensuring that all citizens, regardless of income or social status, have equal access to essential services. It also promotes the creation of green spaces and the adoption of sustainable building practices to improve quality of life and reduce environmental impact.

Conclusion

The 15-minute city model represents an innovative and sustainable vision for the future of urban areas. By promoting proximity, diversity, inclusiveness, and sustainability, this approach can significantly improve the quality of life for citizens, reduce the environmental impact of cities, and create more cohesive and resilient communities. However, its implementation requires careful planning, investment in infrastructure, and strong political and public commitment. With the right support, 15-minute cities could become the norm, transforming our cities into more livable and sustainable places.

If you would like to learn more about the 15-minute city or discover the technological innovations that can enable a transition to the Smart City, please contact us using the form at the bottom of this page.

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Frontiere
14/05/2024
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