Rarely do industrial neighbourhoods or large development zones coordinate material demands, waste management, technology or even the availability of space and skilled labour. PlatformU is a free online platform built specifically for area managers. The name has been inspired by Theory U, a change management methodology. In this way, the platform aims to help industrial areas and development zones to shift their practices to be as resource efficient as possible.
What is an area manager
An area manager is responsible for the health and wellbeing of industrial districts, mixed use neighbourhoods or zones that are undergoing significant development and that can benefit from holistic coordination. The area manager may help facilitate businesses, identify shared infrastructure, communicate with public authorities and help local businesses speak with a common voice. The scope of the area manager will depend heavily on the context, therefore not all features on this platform will be relevant.
What will the platform do?
At its core, PlatformU will help you to measure material use, waste, the amount of spare space available and even possible staffing needs. You can include a vast range of materials (wood, water, steel, oil, paper...), spaces (storage areas, meeting space, showrooms...) or skills (graphic design, engineering, waste management...). The simple tool for your phone or computer can be easily and quickly completed by anyone in your organisation.
What does it look like?
You may use an analytics tool to help track the amount of hits on your website or you may use an application to track your fitness. PlatformU is a similar tool, but with business areas in mind. PlatformU provides customised reporting that can be viewed through the platform or shared directly with colleagues or local businesses. Simply graphics help to present ways to reduce waste or improve efficiency.
What is the ultimate result?
Once you have used the platform for a few months, you will be able to spot trends and/or irregularities - you may be able to pick a waste stream to reduce or find a business that wants to use your waste. The platform will then provide previously unknown insights on how the district operates. This means that the district will become more competitive and efficient and businesses and public institutions can share dialogue about how to plan for the future based on clear data.
Why is PlatformU free?
This platform was developed by the non-for-profit, Metabolism of Cities, as a community service tool. Metabolism of Cities is a global community of researchers and experts that are aiming to improve environmental conditions and make cities more efficient consumers of materials. The platform was financed through the Flemish Region’s waste agency.
What do you do with my data?
Your data remains only accessible by you. In the future, we plan to provide anonymised data tracking at a supra regional scale in order to help manage waste and resources more efficiently. All users will be made aware if such changes occur.
PlatformU has been conceived, designed and developed Aristide Athanassiadis (Metabolism of Cities / BATir ULB), Paul Hoekman (Metabolism of Cities) and Adrian Vickery Hill (BATir ULB / Cities of Making). The platform was coded by The Penguin Collective.
BATir (ULB) is the Department of Building, Architecture & Town planning of Université Libre de Bruxelles with an extensive knowledge and expertise in material flow analysis, urban metabolism and circular economy. BATiR co-hosts the Chair for Circular Economy and Urban Metabolism.
Metabolism of Cities is a non-profit organisation based in Brussels that collaborates on systematically improving the sustainability of cities, by creating and sharing urban metabolism knowledge and accelerating its implementation in policy and practice.
The King Baudouin Foundation is a Belgian philanthropic organisation that oversees and coordinates various sources of private funds. PlatformU has benefitted from the ING fund focusing on the circular economy.