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Public Engagement in Experiential Futures



Archive
Technology

Omni-channel retailing is on the rise: the use of a variety of elements to shape a customer’s shopping experience, including bricks and mortar stores, online shopping, mobile apps and telephone sales.

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A combination of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Quantified Self (QS), the Internet of Self (IoS) describes a system that involves the harvesting data from bodily functions through biometric sensors, which then automatically analyzes the data to command IoT objects in everyday life. As such, the physical human body controls the human environment without the need for conscious decision-making.

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Increased global connectedness is generating opposition in the form of localisation, as people try to assert their own identity. Forced to think about how to run global businesses that are also localised, global retailers (e.g. Uniqlo, Lululemon and Nike) are activating communities through local engagement strategies like the creation of local hubs and cultural programming, “superhero” ambassadors, and neighbourhood run clubs. These strategies shift from traditional merchandise standardization to embracing decentralized leadership, and recognizing the need to be good at understanding other cultures, while still being mindful of protecting brand equity and economies of scale.

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Retail workers are at risk of losing their jobs to robots and other automation technology. Automation services that are disrupting retail employment can range from tablets where customers can check out without the help of a cashier to more complicated technologies that can interact with customers in stores and help them find the items they need.

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Improvements to the customer experience, increased retail options, and faster shipping has made online shopping more appealing. Customers are now buying more things from the comfort of their homes than in person at brick and mortar stores. Grocery shopping may be the last holdout. At the moment, the majority of people still want to push a cart down the aisle, choosing items for their family, but that is changing as well.

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Developers and planners are rethinking the mall concept, integrating different property types in hopes of achieving higher occupancy rates and higher rents. Office tenants and residents enjoy the convenience of having multiple retail and dining options nearby, while retailers and restaurants like the increased foot traffic from having both workers and residents on site. Malls have been repurposed as social service centres, professional offices, health care centres, churches, nature enclaves and as public markets.

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With the rise of universal income, automation and artificial intelligence, mechanistic jobs will soon be given to machines. This will place pressures on the labor force to attract and develop jobs that can not be easily replaced by machines. One sector that may grow because of this is the creative sector as machines will still have difficulties working in authentically creative and artistic ways. The “automation revolution” will change what it means to be employable. To have jobs, people will have to do creative work or work in a service industry that requires the human touch.

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The sharing economy has become a booming sector in Canada, especially with newcomer communities as a source of employment. Because of the insular nature of trust in newcomer communities, third party sharing economy apps have been developed exclusive to newcomer community members. These third party apps, because they are less regulated, also bring with them more risks in the type of sharing engaged.

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Bitcoin has become the platform newcomers use for financial exchange. Banks and the CRA are falling behind in regulating how income generated from informal work is being accounted for due to Blockchain hacking. Because the majority of newcomer work is done this way and because of the majority of Toronto is made of newcomers, this is a missed income tax opportunity not being used to address the aging infrastructure and the lack of social and health services in the city.

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To better manage the complexity around newcomer support services, newcomers must opt into programs that then track and monitor newcomer activity through the provision of such services. While this helps the government with smarter resource distribution, the state of being under constant surveillance leaves many newcomers without a sense of self-agency.

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