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Learning from Nature to Develop Advanced Workplace, Building & Urban Networks

"We still have so much to learn from the natural world. In fact, it seems like many technological breakthroughs seek to mimic natural systems that have been functioning for thousands, if not millions, of years. Solar panels convert sunlight into energy like photosynthesis in the leaves of plants, honeycomb designs are increasingly seen in artitecture to increase strength while minimising materials, now shark’s scales are being used to design better drones, planes, and wind turbines.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities can also look to nature for inspiration according to many leading experts. At the Honeywell Technology Day in London, Martin L Frohock, ARM’s head of Facility Management (FM), associated the algorithm that desert ants use to regulate their foraging as similar to TCP protocol, which regulates the internet. Frohock said ants use their “anternet” for “positive feedback for transmission acknowledgement”. Their “data package” is food that they gather from other ants returning to the colony to store and distribute.

“The algorithm localises each ant’s experience and behaviour [and] at the same time a huge number of one-to-one encounters by touching their antennae allows them to collect the wisdom of the colony and share the information,” Frohock explained. “These networks become resilient over the years, which is part of the core business case for smart buildings,” he added."

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To Create a Community, Start With Stairs

"Can a simple internal staircase — where it’s located inside a building, how visible it is from nearby, which amenities it connects to — make all the difference in creating community?

That’s what Annie Cosgrove and Rachel Montana, senior design researchers on WeWork’s Fundamental Research team, set out to understand when they started researching the staircases at WeLive. Cosgrove and Montana looked at both WeLive locations: WeLive Wall Street in New York and WeLive Crystal City, located just outside of Washington, D.C.

We figured out that what they really wanted to know was the sociality of the space — whether or not community was being built at that neighborhood scale,” says Cosgrove. “We ended up coming back to them and saying that we weren’t just going to count the amount of people using the stairs; we were going to look at the structure of their communities and assess whether or not the stairs are making an impact.”

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klick!Miriam Eichler