The rise of 15-minute cities

Imagine a city in which anything you need is 15 minutes away.
That’s the goal of 15-minutes cities.

It’s the road to a sustainable future and sustainable cities. In a short walk or with a fast bicycle ride, people will find everything. Underutilized urban spaces will become healthy and friendly ecosystems.

15-minutes cities are getting traction right now. With Covid, as people are confined in their homes and social gatherings are discouraged, staying in the neighborhood is their only choice.

In this report, we will take a look at the American startup Reef, founded to “connect the world to your block.”

The connected network

Reef is present in 4,500 locations and, in each of them, it plans to create “Neighborhood hubs.” The startup focuses on five aspects of urban living and they all make cities more accessible.

  • Proximity. Micro-distribution centers will ensure people won’t need to drive far to find what they need. The parking spaces turn into warehouses and direct-to-consumer lockers. Reef collaborates with couriers (such as DHL in Miami) to promote easy delivery and micro-mobility. Instead of using polluting vans, delivery companies will use electric vehicles or bikes.
  • Kitchens. The “15-minute cities” promote and support local restaurants. The goal is sustainable expansion. Reef focuses on preparation and distribution to reach new customers. Business owners don’t need capital investment. Restaurants will grow with the community and not despite it. Urban farms create green spaces and communal ones, in which people will learn sharing.
  • Parking. Reef operates one of the world’s largest parking networks that spreads to 70 percent of North America urban spaces. Real estate owners generate new revenue. On the other hand, customers have an easy experience, thanks to kiosks, cameras, and mobile applications.
  • Real estate. Reef collaborates with owners to improve their experience and their tenants’. The staff will be aided by technology. The customers won’t ever be without concierge service, mail room, and package management. Building safety is improved as well as traffic management. Owners will provide tenants with a better experience, which in turn will lead to growth.
  • Healthcare. Providers will come to the neighborhood, instead of patients standing in lines or the waiting room. Reef encourages healthy living too. Since people will find anything they need with a short walk, they will leave their car home. Pop-up clinics can help with Covid-19 tracking as well, since they make testing accessible.

The connected network of the “15-minute city” has identified the flaws of urban ecosystems and it has built strategies to tackle them. Everyone will see and enjoy the benefits, consumers as well as business owners.

The benefits of 15-minutes cities

The connected network of the Reef Platform has something to offer to everyone. Its positive effects impact the whole community of the neighborhood and they create a trustworthy network.

  • Sustainability. If cars stay at home, pollution lessens. Thanks to micro-mobility and e-vehicles, the cities will be less congested. Traffic won’t be an issue anymore and your commute will be easier. Cities will lead the way to an eco-friendly future, setting an example instead of a setback.
  • Supporting the local economy. People will stay in their “neighborhood hub” because they will find high-end restaurants and services in their block. Small businesses will have a chance to cater to their community. And the community will get a chance to give back.
  • Staying healthy. This goes beyond using bike-sharing programs or electric scooters. Pop-up clinics will make a difference in many people’s lives. Healthcare will be more accessible, releasing patients from stressful situations. The clinics can be a life saver, literally.
  • People-friendly. Thanks to the “15-minutes cities” concept, cities will serve people, not the other way around. Just think of the urban farms, a way to reclaim space and air.
  • An equal system. People will have access to the same quality service, no matter their looks and beliefs. For example, healthcare won’t be a restricted service, but a service for everyone.
  • Easy and efficient deliveries. No matter what you order, someone close to you will deliver it. That someone will be on an e-bike, to reduce pollution. And they will be equipped with the latest technology, to make the whole experience smoother -for you and the courier.
  • A steady revenue stream. To make sure providers and businesses don’t leave their neighborhood, Reef works with them. It helps local companies develop a sustainable and community-friendly approach. As people find solutions in their block, the businesses will succeed.

The concept of “15-minute cities” is designed to create a hospitable neighborhood, in which people feel welcome. And where they want to stay. People don’t want to leave because the block is customized to their needs and it reflects their heritage. Reef personalizes its urban space and it builds it to respect the neighborhood’s essence.

Neighborhood hubs in the era of Covid-19

In New York City, Reef has applied its vision to commuters with the Barrier initiative. A team of professionals sanitizes vehicles with non-toxic sanitizers. They also deliver a package to drivers with three masks, two pairs of gloves, and one hand sanitizer. In only ten minutes, the car is ready and safe for new passengers.

In Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles, Reef organized Covid-19 pop-up testing hubs. When the pandemic is finally over, these clinics will become points for primary care. A win-win for the neighborhoods.

The startup is setting an example in the industry to tackle present challenges. It sets the tone for a better future as well. Investors believe in it and Reef has recently raised $1 billion for developments. Claudio Innocente is the Head of REEF’s Fulfillment Network.

“Our mission at Reef is to connect the world to your block by taking underused urban spaces, such as parking lots, warehouses and use that real estate to connect neighborhoods to the goods, services, and experiences they need to thrive,” Innocente said during an interview with Yahoo Finance.

The mission includes parking spaces, sustainable micro-mobility, and clinics. The underused urban spaces become urban farms, kitchens, and healthy ecosystems.

The “15-minute cities” are sustainable, connected, and fun. The city can finally go back to human-friendly size, forgetting about cars, noise pollution, and stressful commutes. It’s worth the investment and the hustle.

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