Sunday, October 06, 2013

Extreme Data shapes Future Cities

With over 50% of the planet living in cities as of 2008 growing to an expected 75% by 2050 (when the population is estimated to be 9 billion), seamlessly transitioning to cities-of-the-future should be a key planning goal for every urban area. In some countries like the UK, there are strategic initiatives underway to create Future Cities and Smart Cities that include sponsoring hackathons for citizens to work with open urban data, and in other cases research centers are leading efforts such as the MIT Senseable City Lab using the wireless Internet-of-Things (IOT) to sense the real-time city.

Some of the more familiar recent innovations that are starting to pop-up include smart electricity meters, electric car charging stations, on-demand bicycle transport depots, aspirations for vertical farms, and in public transportation: mobile apps with on-demand schedules, journey-planning, and real-time transport information. As another sign of the times, the Oxford English dictionary added the term Internet-of-things in August 2013.

Extreme Urban Data 
The biggest trend reshaping all aspects of our lives, the Big Data Era, is driving a whole new tier of Future Cities and Smart Cities apps connecting big data, open data, statistical processing, and machine learning to user-friendly apps, web services, and other consumable front-ends. Killer Apps could focus on practical improvements to daily life and resource-use: adaptive lighting, smart waste, pest control, hygiene management, eTolls, transport and traffic management, smart grid, asset tracking, and parking. Killer Apps can also be political – using crowdsourced data and social media scrapings to create tools that are the bottom-up sousveillance antidote to top-down surveillance as envisioned in David Brin’s Transparent Society, for example, companies using social media-sourced data to predict country instability in real-time like Cytora.

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