Most of you should remember of the Green Wheel, by MIT Mobile Experience Lab and Smart Cities Group, a smart mobility system in a wheel, that collects energy while riding the bicycle and releases it when needed. Additionally it provides remote monitoring. The Copenhagen wheel (presented at COP15 Copenhagen) is a further evolution, developed by the peer MIT SENSEable Lab in cooperation with Ducati. It transforms ordinary bicycles into hybrid e-bikes that also function as mobile sensing units. In fact it can map pollution levels (carbon monoxide, NOx), noise, ambient temperature and relative humidity, traffic congestion, and document road conditions in real-time. Controlled through a smart phone, the Copenhagen Wheel it allows to lock the bike, change gears and select how much the motor assists you, capture your effort level and those of your surroundings if you agree to share those information with your friend community, or city administration, that will get granular data in real life traffic condition.
New applications keep on being developed by the Senseable Lab, directed by Carlo Ratti, in order to build a real-time city: “ The increasing deployment of sensors and hand-held electronics in recent years is allowing a new approach to the study of the built environment. The way we describe and understand cities is being radically transformed – alongside the tools we use to design them and impact on their physical structure.” The lab has produced: 200+ scientific papers, 35+ real-world projects, 25+ exhibitions, 100+ conference keynote addresses, numerous awards and representation in the global media.
The Senseable Lab is defined by the anthropologist Luca Simone as a “transdisciplinary” research group that “studies the interface between cities, people and technologies and investigates how the ubiquity of digital devices and the telecommunications networks that augment our cities are impacting urban living”.
Recently the MIT Senseable Lab organized the First Workshop on Pervasive Urban Applications (PURBA) that took place in conjunction with the 9th International Conference on Pervasive Computing in San Francisco, CA, USA on June 12-15, 2011, bringing together researchers and practitioners to discuss and explore the research challenges and opportunities in applying the pervasive computing paradigm to urban spaces. It promoted “multi-disciplinary contributions that reveal interesting aspects about urban life and exploit the digital traces to create novel urban applications that benefit citizens, urban planners, and policy makers”. In my understanding the proposed scenario was the following:
- Digital networks and operations has produced an unprecedented wealth of information about URBAN LIFE.
- Handheld electronics, location devices, telecommunications networks, and a wide assortment of tags and sensors are constantly producing a rich stream of data reflecting various aspects of urban life.
- For urban planners and designers, these accumulations of digital traces are valuable sources of data in capturing the pulse of the city in an astonishing degree of temporal and spatial detail.
- We move toward achieving an augmented, fine-grained understanding of how the city functions – socially, economically and yes, even psychologically (“the city as a social archipelago”).
Many Papers were submitted to the PURBA best student paper award, the following ones were elected for final selection:
- Identifying and Understanding Urban Sport Areas using Nokia Sports Tracker
- Robust Land Use Characterization of Urban Landscapes using Cell Phone Data
- A centralized real-time Advanced Driver Assistance System based on smartphones
- Exploratory Study of Urban Flow using Taxi Traces
- Sensing The Urban: Using location-based social network data in urban analysis