The 20 trends that got us through 2020
The year 2020 was full of reset moments and demanded us to adapt to new ways of living, working, and playing. Being flexible was critical to surviving this past year. In this article, we look at which trends emerged in 2020 and are likely to stay relevant in the coming years. We focused on trends affecting our physical environment by looking at IT, energy, transport, design, and buildings. Here is a list of 20 trends from 2020 that we expect to shape Curaçao in the coming years.
1. Remote working and online education
Video conferencing is nothing new, but this year it became a prevalent part of our lives to facilitate working and studying from home. What was perhaps a learning curve for many businesses was the migration of daily operations online. The ability to log into company computers and access files and programs from home is essential if students and workers are to seamlessly transition from their classroom and office desk to their living room table.
2. Decentralized energy systems
Due to multiple power outages this year, various households and companies are looking into ways to produce (a share of) their energy demand closer to home. Some prefer the use of generators while others look into alternative energy systems like solar panels.
3. Online social events
How to interact in a time where all social events are canceled? Online of course! Many apps have tried to replicate the real-life interactions we’re used to. Hangouts with friends and live performance are all somewhat available online through free apps like Houseparty, Zoom, and also through live streams. Other micro-interactions, like small talk with colleagues when you run into them at work, are not as easy to replace but still very missed. We expect interaction designers to keep innovating even as we’re getting used to working and being social online.
4. Flexible offices
This year a lot of people were introduced to remote working, and they liked its perks. Various studies show that employees want to adopt more hybrid ways of working by working remotely 2 to 3 days a week and coming to the office primarily to interact with colleagues. This change would require more flexibility in office buildings, amenities, and management.
The uncertainty of being physically open for business or not has pushed many organizations to move their services online. Products and services can be bought online with webshops continuously popping up, not only broadening their reach but also giving businesses more control over their physical locations. You can book an appointment for a lot of your favorite services, order your favorite food and have it delivered by DushiFood or Bytes, and leave a review on Review Nos. With solutions for online payment such as Chip now available, e-services will surely start to bloom.
6. Security of supply (ISLA outages)
Due to the new world order established by COVID-19, the security of supply has become even more relevant than before. Companies were forced to react quickly to meet the demand of their consumers through innovative component inventory management. Because of this, companies will have to re-evaluate their resilience even after the outbreak has been contained.
7. Touchless interaction with products
In a time where everything seems contagious, the last thing you want is to touch things that have been touched by many other people. To avoid this, products that have been designed not to be touched have been applied much more often. The best examples are touchless hand sanitizer dispensers, infrared thermometers, and faucets.
8. Healthy buildings
The pandemic reminded us how important the quality of our indoor environments is. Healthy buildings help improve public health while also contributing to the wellness of the people who use them. We expect this heightened awareness of healthy buildings to stay in the coming years.
There is a growing interest in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin on Curaçao. While cryptocurrencies are surely changing how we handle money, the underlying technology, blockchain, is capable of much more. It’s distributed nature requires all involved parties to collaborate to reach a goal, transferring digital currency from one party to another in the case of cryptocurrencies. That goal can also be running an organization with the input of every stakeholder. CuraDAO uses this technology to have members allocate resources to interesting projects. We expect blockchain to make its way into more sectors such as logistics, NGOs, and even the public sector.
10. Automation and digitization
The pandemic has accelerated the rise of automation and digitization within the energy sector. Companies have come to the realization that competitors with an edge in this field have already benefited during the crises, reducing dependence on human resources. By investing in this area, companies can improve resilience and performance, while reducing the load on their employees.
11. Make your own mask
In response to the shortage of protective equipment at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, many took it upon themselves to make their own. For some creatives, making masks or face shields even grew into a small side business. Even if you can’t sew yourself, you’ll find many different designs and fits for sale. These are usually not only more aesthetically pleasing than the single-use masks, but also much more sustainable!
12. Outdoor spaces as the public’s living room
Due to the safety measures against the pandemic, outdoor and public spaces became essential for hosting various activities such as meeting friends, eating, exercising, and more. Houses, restaurants, and companies with outdoor spaces became added-value and we can expect more appreciation for qualitative outdoor spaces in the near future.
5G has been cast in a negative light all through 2020. In reality, it is mostly being rolled out in big cities around the globe where the term “Smart City” is all the craze. The idea of a data-driven city with sensors everywhere and every device communicating with each other is not possible without 5G. 5G brings the bandwidth that enables millions of devices to communicate in real-time, helping us to make informed decisions about how to run our cities. While still a bit far off, we see Curaçao becoming a data-driven nation.
14. Demand-side management
Due to the pandemic’s unpredictable curves in demand, it is becoming more important for companies to forecast these fluctuations. These forecasts are becoming increasingly complex: What will demand look like as the world emerges from COVID-19 restrictions? What will be the impact of behavior change? Will people not completely return to previous habits? Will the company’s fleet and mobility expenditures change due to more working from home?
15. Tape in public spaces
Who would’ve guessed that something as simple as tape would end up becoming one of the most important and frequently used technologies in public spaces this past year? Many different methods have been applied, some, like dots or circles, are more flexible and tend to work better than squares. When used correctly, it helped us guide crowds and transform our public spaces into safe, socially distanced places.
16. Smart buildings
Monitoring air quality and ventilation, sensors tracking the number of people in one space, and automatic doors, lighting, and faucets are just some of the advantages of smart buildings that proved useful this year. We anticipate more integration between IT and buildings to increase safety, health, and efficiency in our built environment.
As the initial panic of the pandemic wore off, many of us reflected on how to become less dependent on the international market. This pandemic has shown that the world can shut down within days, and being self-reliant in your basic needs is even more important in this situation. Self-reliance when it comes to growing your own food can be seen in the urban gardens popping up around the island. Tourism briefly slowed down, which meant that the people working in that industry have had to find different ways to keep busy and earn some money. Many people started small businesses that deliver homemade goods such as food, crafts, and protective equipment.
18. Digital nomads
With remote working trending this year, more people are opting for a digital nomad lifestyle to combine travel and work. Various islands in the Caribbean now offer digital nomad visas to allow remote workers a more extended stay than a tourist visa. Innovation Ç asked digital nomads in Curaçao why they chose to come here and is working on promoting the island as a digital nomad hub.
19. Car-free Sundays
During the strict lockdown this year, cars were temporarily not allowed on the roads on Sundays. This measure resulted in families and friends using the roads to take a stroll, bike, run, and play without having to worry too much about their safety.
With many travel restrictions due to the pandemic, a lot of people chose to spend their vacation within the country. Attractive local rates and other specials helped to offer a great tourist experience without having to leave the country.
These trends present us with new challenges and open doors to new possibilities. We look forward to integrating these trends into our problem-solving to help us shape a better physical environment. The future is exciting!