The real estate sector is undergoing a transformation as buyers increasingly prioritise services over spaces. In this service-driven market, building a strong sense of community is an important asset; however, this is something traditional business models have struggled to achieve. If we are to continue providing homebuyers with compelling places to live, we need to think not only about the physical structures we build but also the ways we can help residents connect with each other and empower them to enhance their own communities through convenience and services. This is where community managers, a traditional concept enhanced by mobile technology, can help both developers and residents.
The central function of a community manager is to work alongside residents, helping them settle in and collaborating with existing households to improve quality of life in their district through solutions to their everyday problems. This often means hitting the streets, organizing local meetings, and engaging on a one-to-one basis to understand how residents’ lives can be made better.
“With the aid of Planet Smart City’s Planet App, our community managers are now able to minimise administrative burdens and maximise their time working with residents.”
However, the job of a community manager is evolving. With the aid of mobile applications such as Planet Smart City’s Planet App, community managers are now able to minimise administrative burdens and maximise their time working with residents. The Planet App, for example, allows residents to book community spaces and organise meetings online. This is not only good for the business, which gets greater productivity from its community managers, but for residents, who get more face-to-face time with someone specially trained to help improve their neighbourhoods and districts.
Why does this matter? Well, community managers serve as an important link between residents and developers, supporting a mutually positive ongoing relationship. Homeowners are able to settle more comfortably into the community and the continuous dialogue among residents helps foster a greater sense of belonging and security, even in areas with legacy issues such as an association with crime. What’s more, residents who feel developers care about their lives are more likely to raise potential issues before they become points of confrontation, encouraging a collaborative approach to problem solving.
Planet has seen this in Quartiere Mirafiore, one of its projects in Turin, where one of the smart solutions implemented was the neighbourhood’s Library of Things. This resource is designed to help people borrow everyday items like ladders and power drills. The spread-out nature of the neighbourhood would have made it difficult to use the service if it had been placed in a single location: it is a service that focuses on proximity because borrowing must be convenient, fast and simple.
This prompted our community manager, Elena Fabris, to work with residents and some local social organizations to come up with a different formula for the service. Thanks to the collaboration of some local retailers, who agreed to host objects in their stores, they opted for a decentralised system. With no additional costs for the service, residents were able to loan various objects from multiple easy to reach places in the neighbourhood, while the retailers involved in the service benefitted from becoming more well-known in the community.
“While community managers can act as a catalyst for community action, their goal over time is to empower residents to organise themselves.”
The successful transformation of Planet’s Library of Things is a perfect illustration of how much residents themselves can achieve in their neighbourhoods when united by a community manager. In Laguna, one of our smart cities in Brazil, the community manager has been welcoming the first residents and is focused on working towards their needs while settling in a new district. While community managers can act as a catalyst for community action, their goal over time is to empower residents to organise themselves and shape the neighbourhood to the priorities of those who live there, fostering community life that is both rich and self-supporting.
What’s more, by engaging closely with residents, developers can ensure projects are tailored to the needs of local people and discover new ideas and approaches for different markets. This results in closer communities and happier residents, while increasing the value of properties by making the area more desirable. In addition, a close relationship between community and developer can encourage residents to return to the same company or recommend it to their network.
To meet the demands of today’s homebuyers, developers need to place people at the heart of their projects. While the latest technology can play an important role in our cities, this should come with an emphasis on how it can help bring communities together. By enhancing the role of the community manager, developers enable a positive force within their communities, transforming a buyer-seller relationship into a collaborative engagement. This shift plays an integral role in helping developers make the right choices for their communities and empowering residents to come together for the good of their neighbourhoods. It helps residents feel safer and happier, while ensuring we, the developer, enjoy the benefits of communities full of vitality and purpose.
Chief Digital Strategy Officer, Planet Smart City