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Douglas Pancoast

Wrigley Field serves as classroom for Lane Tech students

Lane Tech College Prep High School students, in collaboration with the University of Chicago, will be installing sensor boxes at Wrigley Field to measure sound levels, customer satisfaction and air quality, among other things. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

When Cubs fans leave Wrigley Field starting Tuesday night, they may encounter a simple console with two circular buttons: one a red, angry face, the other a green, smiley face. The sensor will have a question attached asking fans about their experience at the ballpark and whether they would recommend a Wrigley visit to their family and friends.

But it won’t be Cubs executives on the other end monitoring the responses. Rather, each push of a button will be recorded and registered on the computers of Lane Tech High School students.

A Guide to Chicago's Array of Things Initiative

If you’re a frequent reader of all things civic tech, then you may have already come across the Array of Things (AoT).  Launched in 2016, the project, which consists of a network of sensor boxes mounted on light posts, has now begun collecting a host of real-time data on Chicago’s environmental surroundings and urban activity.   After installing a small number of sensors downtown and elsewhere in 2016, Chicago is now adding additional sensors across the city and the city’s data portal currently lists locations for all of AoT’s active and yet-to-be installed sensors.  Next year, data collected from AoT will be accessible online, providing valuable information for researchers, urban planners, and the general public. 

Chicago’s Array of Things May Give Big Data Boost to Urban Planning

Array of Things began as a failed workshop for high school students. Three years ago, Charlie Catlett, director of the Computation Institute’s Urban Center for Computation and Data and senior computer scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, and fellow researchers were helping students assemble simple air quality monitors with the intent to deploy them in downtown Chicago to teach about collecting data in a major city. (The Computation Institute is a joint initiative between the University of Chicago and Argonne.)

How Will Chicago’s New Data Nodes Display Information?

Source: Whet Moser, Chicago Magazine

The Array of Things, the city’s network of environmental sensors, makes its debut this month. It’s not just an experiment in big data—it’s also an attempt to forge a new kind of public communication from the ground up.


Array of Things: A Fitbit for the City [Video]

Source: Wired

The Array of Things project in Chicago, led by the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, the Computation Institute, and the School of the Art Institute Chicago, is installing hundreds of sensors across the city, in hopes of providing a new breed of data-fueled urban planning.


SAIC artists and designers are forging community technology with the Array of Things project

Source: Jessica Barrett Sattell, HIghlights-SAIC

Three transparent boxes holding electronic sensors to read temperature, humidity, and air quality each spent a week in the urban research field of the Woodlawn neighborhood on Chicago's South Side—one buried in a garden, another carried on walks around city streets, and the last situated within a local house. Built and monitored under the careful watch of seven Chicago public high school students who call the area home, the devices pulled environmental data as raw material to intimately examine the unseen elements of how cities grow and change.

Returning to their classroom laboratory at the University of Chicago, the group, apprehensive and excited, waited to see if their assigned devices had collected successfully. Douglas Pancoast, Director of SAIC's Earl and Brenda Shapiro Center for Research and Collaboration and Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects, popped out each box's SD card and projected files containing lines upon lines of text on a large monitor.