The vitality of a given city’s neighborhoods is an important predictor of the economic competitiveness of said city. It also is an important predictor of access to the economic opportunity enjoyed by residents.
Grass root efforts to advance economic development do not have a great track record. They typically lack the correct combination of information, location, expertise, time and money to leverage market and political forces. Yet, on the food end, new developments are taking place that are proving to be financially profitable, scalable and above all, sustainable.
Infarm is a German based “miniature greenhouse” where vertical farming takes place. Consumers arrive to Infarm, select the produce (straight off the farm) and purchase it there. There is no shipping, handling, waiting, etc. Source to table in a matter of minutes. Aside from the pleasure of eating locally-sourced food, there is a massive cost savings in terms of less transportation which equates to less carbon emissions. Locals in Berlin have taken to Infarm which of course creates demand and in turn allows Infarm to contract employees to staff the vertical farm thus generating employment.
Location-based apps such as Geme.io where one shares their location in real-time can advance economic development in a given neighborhood in ways previously unimaginable. The overriding premise that a business must gain regional or national scale to compete and be scalable is slowly shifting as local businesses that serve a healthy local demand could be the key to a truly sustainable model.
With Geme. io, tourists and residents alike can take this to an even more micro level. What if one’s backyard could be transformed into a mini “Infarm” where on the weekend vegetables, flowers, etc could be sold, shared or bartered within the community. In many parts of the world one of the costliest items in a monthly budget is food. By sourcing food locally through an app like Geme.io these costs would drop dramatically. Take this a step further and those same local providers could in turn supply local businesses in the area – hospitals, universities or schools where day-to-day food consumption occurs.
Sharing one’s location with Geme.io is easy – anybody in a community can create a marker and promote his or her produce (in the case of a farm). Via the creation of Gemies (markers on the app’s virtual map), users follow and receive proximity-alerts surrounding relevant information (Social Gemies – I offer free food) and ads (Promotion Gemies – I sell veggies today), all thanks to geo-location sharing.
For this to work, the entire eco-system – citizens, non-profits, schools, faith-based organizations, municipalities and businesses – must start to realize that even small things can spur entrepreneurial spirit and promote community development.
About the Author:
Magdalena Pawlowicz, co-founder of Geme.io, a free location-based app that allows users to explore, create and connect with the city in innovative ways via smart phones. She is a successful serial entrepreneur in the technology field with a vision to change city life via the empowerment of the very individuals who live and visit cities to share their data freely. Join the movement to make our cities more livable and send us an email to find out more: firstname.lastname@example.org