The relationship between people and technology is transforming the way we experience the world and it is happening at warp speed. From tablets, smartphones, Wi-Fi, and cloud computing to AutoCAD, parametric design, and 3D printers, there is no escaping our ever-increasing interactions with technology. The design industry is specifically focused on how digital mediums are used to work together with products, spaces, services, and the environment. Experts are concerned with making a consumer’s encounter more meaningful, effective, and efficient through a collaborative process between people and technology.

At EDSA, we are looking at the incorporation of such technologies into the public realm – an enticement that could bring more people into outdoor spaces. How can we reinforce a sense of community and of place through multi-media interactions? Can we facilitate an appreciation and understanding of the value of being outdoors and of the natural world amongst younger generations? Is there an opportunity to help our clients develop such applications?

Technology that links a site’s physical attributes or offerings with associated conversations is already in place. Participatory experiences are widely available in parks and museums through interactive kiosks, audio exhibits, and even self-guided mobile tours utilizing digital applications. Experimentation with suitcase-size portable Wi-Fi systems or pods that serve as power centers for laptops is being incorporated into city parks. Landscape innovations for site infrastructure design are integrating LED lighting, security systems, interactive walls, and even sensor-embedded tiles that produce enough electricity by foot friction to power a laptop as well as kinetic sculptures with movement controlled by the public.

Landscape architects and other designers have a tremendous responsibility to more aptly integrate such technologies so that people have added opportunities to experience the world’s landscapes on a regular, more informed basis.