For cities to be economically sustainable, people must want to come and spend time there. The real estate company Atrium Ljungberg considers the digital environment as important as the physical.
Atrium Ljungberg develops and manages urban areas that include offices, retail and cultural and service facilities. From a position of developing mostly offices and retail, Atrium Ljungberg some time ago decided to expand its area of business to residential buildings. With this came the opportunity to create entire urban districts where people really wish to be and spend time – the living city.
”We were pioneers in forming this business model, which requires access to larger areas of development than just single blocks. I think we are quite unique, having this opportunity”, said CEO Annika Ånäs at Atrium Ljungberg´s webinar ‘How to create a city where everyone wants to live’ last September.
Board Nexus has met Julie Améen, who is in charge of digital business development.
Integrating physical and digital environments
Part of Atrium Ljungberg´s strategy is to create places where people can reside and meet around the clock. This includes housing, offices, retail areas, schools and health care, but also cafes, restaurants and cultural venues like theatres and music arenas. The company also aims to integrate the physical environment with the digital platforms by, for instance, accompanying the tenants on their journey from physical shopping to e-commerce.
In Sickla and several other city areas, the company has established the concept Leveriet, based on the concept of making later stages of e-commerce as enjoyable as the rest. Leveriet is described as ”mail delivery deluxe”, a well-designed and comfortable area, where you can pick up digital orders and return packages, try on clothes and recycle packaging materials. Leveriet has a service-minded staff. It is an example how Atrium Ljungberg is cooperating with other companies to connect the physical and digital space.
In the fall of 2020, the company appointed its first business development executive for digitalization and innovation, Julie Améen, who has a solid experience from IT and innovation. She is in charge of creating digital services connected to the physical city space. She describes it as adding a digital layer to the physical resources.
”What we do is offer smart digital services to add value for people and organizations in our cities. A crucial factor is that technology follows people and business processes, not the other way around,” says Julie Améen.
From a strategic viewpoint, buildings and their related space constitute hardware, while digital solutions are software. Julie Améen draws a parallel to Apple. Their relatively costly telephones were not considered a threat by Microsoft when introduced, but became a huge success because of their attractive service content for the individual user.
The concept of smart cities often refers to places where people as well as equipment are online. This includes internet of things and artificial intelligence. Appliances, machines, vehicles and buildings have built-in electronics that can be controlled and/or exchange data over the internet.
”But the properties will not be smart if they are full of technical solutions that nobody demands. In that case the city is only connected, but suffers a loss of potential life,” states Julie Améen.
Focusing on Citylife Tech
”Proptech” is the brief term for property technology that for instance enables energy efficiency and reduction of CO2 emissions, clearly positive implications.
”But the perspective that my team work with is called CitylifeTech, and we focus on the needs of individuals in the city. The perspectives can often be turned around. Digital controlled streetlights, for instance, can primarily be considered creating safety for people, and secondly saving energy and money.”
Digital transformation is a priority within Atrium Ljungberg, and Julie Améen’s team is expanding. It works with other parts of the company to support the core business. At the same time, the time horizon for her team is different from the very long planning cycles that are fundamental for real estate, since digital surroundings keep changing rapidly. Constant development is a necessity to be able to adjust the company offer, also in the short run.
Pilot project on Nobelberget
Atrium Ljungberg’s new residential property project Nobelberget in Sickla is focused on city development. The first block of apartments was finished at the end of 2020, out of a total 500 apartments. The shopping mall Sickla Köpkvarter, also owned by Atrium Ljungberg is close by. During the autumn of 2020 the company launched the community app ALife Home for local residents. The first tenants were invited to a pre corona dinner party as a kick-start for the community.
Through the app, the residents can keep in touch with their neighbors, buy, sell and borrow, share services and find exclusive offerings and goods made by local shops, restaurants and other businesses. They are also able to find information on what is going on in the area and contact the Atrium Ljungberg service center. Office tenants and residents can book physical resources like a community kitchen for events they wish to organize.
Atrium Ljungberg is determined not to create unique digital products in every project, but to make them applicable everywhere.
”The solutions we create must be scalable, so that the same kind of service can be offered in our developments in Slakthusområdet (Stockholm), and in Uppsala, Göteborg or Malmö. The digital concept consists of a service solution, which is not limited to a certain place, but the content of the service is local.”
Cooperation with tech companies
Atrium Ljungberg’s innovative technical solutions uses the help from other companies. The app ALife Home was created by Atrium Ljungberg in cooperation with Tmpl Solutions. Technical solutions and data are stored in cloud services and the platform behind ALife Home is delivered as a Software-as-a-Service solution which means that development is continuous.
The CitylifeTech team needs to be on their toes and keep building an interesting network. There are ongoing discussions with possible partners such as mobility and other service providers.
”Especially young startups bring in exciting new perspectives. We receive many calls and are eager to take advantage of opportunities they present – that is part of our constant development. We want to include people who are not limited by how things are usually done in our industry. Digital development is not only about digitalizing present processes, but also about taking completely new paths,” says Julie Améen.
Data that are generated in the process are used to deepen insights on app users, their behavior, needs and wishes, in order to develop services further.
”The data we analyze is considered a part of the customer dialogue that helps us design our offer. Our urban environment will be more inclusive and alive if we make use of technology in the right way,” concludes Julie Améen.