• The firm designs and builds smart, affordable neighbourhoods that provide more than just homes.
• With a global footprint in the affordable housing market across both emerging and developed markets.
Planet Smart City, the leader in smart affordable housing, and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) have partnered to upgrade slums.
They will deploy digital and on-the ground solutions to empower slum communities coordinate locally led initiatives using expertise in technology, data analytics and community engagement.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed data frailties and information gaps that have threatened to increase poverty within these informal settlements while posing a great health risk. This initiative aims to provide digital tools, community management and social innovation models to curb the spread of the virus in these communities while supporting entrepreneurship for financial independence.
They will use the broad experience of the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP), a partnership initiative of the African Caribbean and Pacific group of States Secretariat, the European Commission and UN-Habitat, gathering lessons learnt from leveraging private sector engagement for improving the living conditions of the more than the two million slum dwellers in the country.
Planet Smart City designs and builds smart, affordable neighbourhoods that provide more than just homes. With a global footprint in the affordable housing market across emerging and developed markets, it enhances quality of life by applying its expertise in smart solutions integration, digital technologies, services and social innovation.
Since 2008, the PSUP has been working to achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda, particularly the Sustainable Development Goal 11.1, which, by 2030, aims to ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, and upgrade slums.
Kerstin Sommer, manager of the PSUP at UN-Habitat, said that with the Covid-19 momentum, everyone should play a part to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable in the cities.
“That won’t work without the contribution of the private sector,” he said.
The UN-Habitat continues to support human settlements and the government’s sustainable urbanisation priorities, including affordable housing as outlined in the Big Four agenda, and has been involved in many projects across the country.
Planet Smart City CEO Giovanni Savio said they have built the company on two core beliefs — the fundamental right of every person to an inclusive, safe and sustainable home, and the conviction that through the adequate scale, smart technology, digitalisation, resilient infrastructure and intelligent urban planning we can make this a reality.
“From Brazil to Italy to India, we’ve not only developed innovative ways to benefit the lives of our residents, but we’ve also learnt from them about how better to engage and empower local voices in a process of continual improvement,” he said.
“It is incredibly exciting to put our learning to use with UN-Habitat in the service of communities for whom our innovations and expertise can have a transformational effect. With African cities growing by 40,000 people every single day, the need for safe, comfortable and affordable homes is pressing.”
He emphasised that as they continue to build insights into the rich communities and complex challenges across the continent, they hope to expand the services they can offer in diverse nations.
At the heart of the initiative is Planet’s proprietary Planet App, a mobile platform that will act as a digital hub for community engagement. Through the app, slum residents will access news and services, including materials for the prevention of diseases, as well as book medical point services and borrow shared tools and equipment.
Moreover, the app will serve as a platform for local coordination, allowing residents to organise community initiatives, participate in savings groups and view a calendar of activities and educational courses. It is core to the long-term goal of realising financial independence for slum community members.
The app will als support entrepreneurship, giving a platform for residents to coordinate and promote their services both within their communities and neighbouring areas. It can also be used to link community members to jobs and training opportunities in Nairobi.
Through this partnership, Planet will also support communities to develop a hub where events and activities can take place. Planet and UN-Habitat will work with local partners, community champions and NGOs such as Shining Hope for Communities and Slum Dwellers International (SHOFCO), to collect and analyse data on the needs of residents. This will allow them to engage collaboratively with local people on the design and implementation of new community services and resources.
Data analysis and tailoring of the app will be supported by the PSUP team on-the-ground in coordination with Planet’s experienced community manager, Elena Fabris. Their aim will be to engage local people and more effectively empower their initiatives utilising digital tools. This participatory approach will allow the slum communities to evolve according to local priorities and with a high sense community ownership.
Planet Smart City chief digital strategy officer Alan Marcus said Africa is in the midst of one of the world’s most exciting technological metamorphosis, with Kenya right at the heart.
“The country is already the world leader for mobile money penetration and connection to mobile services has surged from 30 per cent of the population in 2009 to over 50 per cent last year.* The forces of innovation that are transforming lives in both Kenya and across the continent can be harnessed to empower the people of African nations,” he said.
“All of us at Planet are energised by the prospect of working with UN-Habitat to ensure this digital revolution in Africa is an inclusive one. Slum communities are tight-knit, resourceful and brimming with potential—if we give them the tools, these communities can be the catalysts for real and long-term transformation.”
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