Harnessing the potential of Outdoor Spaces

Current outdoor space design is limited in its approach and in general is considered an additional expense for the stakeholders with no direct return. Integrating a sense of purpose into the outdoor elements along with the potential of generating revenue will truly create a sustainable space. Interventions like providing activities and services along existing infrastructure like walkways, recreational and parking areas can also engage the end users.

The future outdoors is a functional, sustainable and connected space. ThinkPhi develops these spaces that are powered through off-grid sources and can be integrated into various applications, built with a human-centric design in mind. The technological backbone built into these spaces also allows us to gather data on the engagement and behavioural aspects of the end users for continuous development.

What if the Outdoors didn’t just have to be the outdoors? Technology has certainly evolved to the point where most activities that an average human being in engaged in whilst indoors can be carried out outdoors as well, hence the portability and connectivity revolution. However, while you can still certainly entertain yourself by watching television programming outdoors on your mobile phone, the true potential of outdoor spaces has still not been tapped into. As is the case with most things, the concept of bringing the indoors outside can only be truly realized once the business opportunity around it has been explored.

The average person probably spends most of his day at his place of work or study, apart from the house and perhaps some public spaces on weekends. There is definitely no incentive in most workplaces currently to spend time outside of the work cubicle, apart from a quick break during the lunch hour. However, if campuses could be re-imagined with the perspective of outdoor space becoming an extension of the indoors, it could be a win-win situation for the campus and the user. The user gets a great change in working environment which could potentially even boost productivity for scenarios like group discussions and creative thinking, whereas the campus could experience a dramatic growth in the real estate opportunities available.

The current outdoor designs for campuses are quite limited in their approach and more importantly not given much attention apart from their aesthetic appeal, i.e. not considered an avenue that can provide a direct return to the organization. These outdoor elements could be redesigned with a sense of purpose and additional functionality that could perhaps generate revenue or reduce operational costs. Furthermore, if these elements can be incorporated into the existing infrastructure design for essential applications like walkways, recreational spots and car parking, then you have truly got yourself a sustainably designed campus.

The future outdoors is a functional, sustainable and connected space that engages the end users appropriately depending on the application for the space. For example, what if you could design an outdoor workspace that was modular, could be set up in a matter of hours, in just about any space around the campus that was comfortable? What if you could make this workstation run completely off-grid based on the bountiful solar energy that India is blessed with? This workstation could have a human-centric design and provide wireless charging for your mobile device right where you need it or an infotainment screen while you are waiting for a cab. This concept is not limited to workstations but can be applied across use cases like pathways, breakout zones and many others, but it is critical to keep the design centered around the end users engaging with them.

The final layer that is required to ensure that this concept is hitting the right notes is continuous feedback. If the outdoor elements are also endowed with a technological backbone of data-gathering systems powered by IoT, the designers and facility management team would have access to a steady-stream of data that provides a clear view of how well the end users are engaging with these elements across applications enabling much more efficient space management. This would also provide great insight into the behavioral patterns of the audience, enabling these systems or spaces to take intelligent decisions to set up a suite of additional relevant commercial services and service partners within these captive areas.

We believe that connected spaces like these will provide the framework upon which truly smart campuses can be built and adopting the same suite of technologies across cities can enable them to become more personal and livable using a data-driven approach.

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Technology for Sustainable Outdoor Spaces