5. Time and City Spaces
By Andrew Nash
“We better get out of here,” continued Pat, stating the obvious.
Andrea said coolly, “OK, let’s go to Mercato and set-up in the back room. Francesco’s there early and we’ve got a couple hours before he opens for lunch.”
And I can finally get some good coffee, she thought before continuing, “Philipp and I were talking about our time problem last night. We have an idea, and if we can code it before they find us, we’ll be safe.”
There was never hesitation when Mercato came up, but this time – laptops were slammed shut, power cables stuffed into backpacks, and out the door – before Andrea even finished describing the plan! They surprised Francesco, but he liked those bambini pazzi and quickly agreed.
Philipp explained, “You know how Sibel says the biggest problem in the Speckgürtel is that people need to drive everywhere. So, cities build more roads, and then people need to drive even more. They wind up spending all their time in cars.”
“Yeah, but now planners are talking about 15-minute cities – just like central Vienna – where you don’t have to drive everywhere,” interrupted Sibel.
“Of course, and our app will help people create the communities needed to make 15-minute cities work – the social infrastructure so to speak,” Philipp said as Francesco walked in carrying a tray of espressi.
“But there’s always going to be longer trips, how does that work?” interrupted Maria.
Meanwhile, back at the bunker … “They must have just left, I still smell coffee,” said a guy whose muscles were too big even for his XXL suit.
“Yeah, I found some over here, but it’s really bad,” came a voice from the corner. Apparently even the hired muscle in San Francisco were coffee critics, “I wonder where they went?”
“Hey, wait!” interrupted muscle man, “Remember that bike we were chasing? I saw it chained-up in front of a café we passed on our way here.”
“Let’s roll!” said the small one.
Gulping down his espresso Philipp continued, “We’ll make long trips easier by making public transport trips faster, not simply speeding up buses and trams, but by giving people more control over their time. Planning today isn’t just a spatial problem, it’s a time problem. Speckgürtel living combined with social networking is a vicious circle, people just don’t have time for physical community anymore – and the Metaverse dials that up to 11.”
Andrea piped in, “So our idea is to develop a feature people can use to coordinate their activities with public transport. In other words, the bus gets you to the dentist’s office at 10:30 so you get an appointment at 10:30. It doesn’t matter to the dentist who’s first, so appointments can be moved-around in real time to make it easiest for everyone to complete all their far-away activities using public transport.”
“It’s an interesting idea, but it’s going to need a lot of coding and data,” said Adrian.
“Ja, natürlich. And it will also only work if people have flexible schedules, but I think things like working from home and online yoga during Covid have finally proved we don’t need to be locked-into a fixed place-time world anymore. The future belongs to the 15-minute city – with our app making it easy to use public transport for longer trips.”
“Ushering in a new age of Gemeindebau – places where people have time to know their neighbours and solve problems together – making city-life more attractive than the Speckgürtel,” added Sibel.
Suddenly they heard Francesco saying the café wasn’t open until 11:30, but the voices sounded like they weren’t there for the pasta.
Read episode 6: Platz Presse