At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Toyota introduced their plan to build a new city. This ‘woven’ city is designed as a living lab where new ways of transportation (full connectivity, AI), working (robots) and living (smart homes) can be tested in a live setting. A very ambitious project as the city of 175 acres at the foot of mount Fuji will house ca 2000 people. Toyota has employed the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels and construction will start in 2021.

So, is this the way to change the system and start the transition?

In all modesty - I absolutely applaud the initiative- no, I don’t think so. Setting up a living lab at a relevant scale is absolutely a good idea. We all know that when a problem seems too complex, you need to break it down into smaller pieces. The important thing is then to ensure you include all the essential elements and link to all relevant externalities. And this is what I do not yet see in the Toyota concept. Yes, they invite people from all over the world to contribute. However, I am not sure the concept as it is created is sufficiently connected externally, agile and flexible to accommodate new and relevant insights. In the end these may determine the impact of the initiative.

In my opinion, system change starts with practical experiments at a relevant scale including ALL actors and ALL externalities. The transition is not about leap frogging to a new system, even when designed with every good intention. Instead, it is about a journey, commencing as soon as you have all companions you need at the start. And yes, that does not require building a new city and yes, that journey can start tomorrow.

In a next blog I will give an example.

(The picture is from Toyota and depicts different aspects of the woven city concept)