A new Innovation Generation grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation will help Array of Things expand its educational curriculum to additional Chicago Public Schools classrooms in 2018. Building upon two successful years of workshops with over 300 students at Lane Tech High School, the program will train teachers and package materials for a hands-on experience with the Internet of Things, coding, data science, and other key computer science and technology concepts.
As the Array of Things takes its final steps toward its public launch later this summer, it has locked in two new relationships that will support its research and education goals. Through an Innovation Generation grant from Motorola Solutions, the Array of Things (AoT) team will expand the high school curriculum built around the urban sensing project last year at Lane Tech High School, enabling more students to learn about technology, programming, and other important skills through the platform. Meanwhile, a new agreement with AT&T establishes the company as the wireless provider for the AoT nodes, transmitting terabytes of data to storage.
Inside the small wooden box are several tiny sensors, a cellular modem, a battery, and a micro-processor running custom programming code. But the key innovation for Erica Pereira’s “Lane of Things” device might be the laser-printed cut-out design of the outer enclosure: two circles and a square forming a friendly emoji-like face.
Their box was just one of over forty sensor nodes built by Lane Tech students as part of the first Lane of Things workshop, funded by Motorola Solutions and organized by the Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD) and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) as part of the broader Array of Things (AoT) project. The workshop was the first stage of the AoT’s educational component, using the technology and principles of the urban sensing platform to help students learn about programming, data science, digital fabrication, and additional CS concepts.
UrbanCCD Director and Computation Institute Senior Fellow Charlie Catlett was named one of 25 “Doers, Dreamers & Drivers” of 2016 by Government Technology. The honor celebrates his work creating partnerships between Argonne National Laboratory, University of Chicago, and the City of Chicago on innovative projects such as Array of Things, Plenario, and OpenGrid.
For several years, “smart cities” has been a popular buzzword for applications of data, computation, and technology in an urban setting. So far, the movement has achieved some early successes, such as open data portals and increasing use of predictive analytics from city governments across the country. But these efforts are just the first small step towards the full potential of new technologies to improve cities and the lives of their residents.
In February, a working group assembled by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released their report on this promising area of research and policy. In it, the assembled academic researchers, city officials, and business professionals highlight the brightest examples of urban technology, and make several recommendations for how the federal government can further nurture its growth. Among the 20 authors of the report was the CI’s own Charlie Catlett, director of the Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD), and UrbanCCD projects appear as model initiatives.
A new partnership between Array of Things (AoT) and Product Development Technologies (PDT) will drive the public launch of the urban sensing project in 2016. PDT, based in Lake Zurich, IL, will spearhead the design and manufacturing of a custom enclosure system for AoT nodes, protecting the technology from weather conditions while enabling accurate measurements.
CHICAGO—The University of Chicago (UChicago) announced today that the National Science Foundation has awarded a $3.1 million grant to support the development of Array of Things, an urban sensing instrument that will serve as a fitness tracker for the city. Starting next year, 500 Array of Things (AoT) nodes will measure data on Chicago’s environment, infrastructure and activity to scientifically investigate solutions to urban challenges ranging from air quality to urban flooding. The ultimate goal of this innovative community technology platform is to help make cities cleaner, healthier and more livable.
“The Array of Things will create a new public utility of open data for the citizens of Chicago,” said Charlie Catlett, director of the Computation Institute’s Urban Center for Computation and Data and senior computer scientist at Argonne. “The unprecedented flow of data from these sensors will create exciting new opportunities for research, technology development and education that will enrich our knowledge about the city.”
Since its announcement last summer, the Array of Things (AoT) urban sensing project has been gradually refining its technology and strategy for its expected pilot launch this spring. For the February edition of Inside the Discovery Cloud, project leaders Charlie Catlett and Douglas Pancoast provided the latest update on the status of AoT, tackling the design, community engagement, computer architecture, and scientific aspects of the project.