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.
OpenGrid, a new website and mobile app that maps and visualizes city data for Chicago residents, was announced and released today by the City of Chicago. The project, funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, was built in partnership with researchers at the CI's Urban Center for Computation and Data and uses their Plenario open data platform.
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.
Chicago is known as a city of skyscrapers, with some of the world’s tallest and largest buildings dotting the famous skyline. But all that square footage carries a hefty energy price tag, as well as significant opportunities for improved efficiency and savings. To encourage building owners to assess and reduce their energy usage, the City of Chicago passed the Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance in 2013, requiring certain properties to report energy data.
Evaluating a new health care intervention can be a messy and costly process. The gold standard for measuring the effectiveness of a new intervention is a randomized controlled trial, splitting patients into a treated group and an untreated group and comparing the results. But humans are not laboratory animals; they don’t exist in a perfectly isolated environment free from outside influences. Furthermore, because clinical trials are expensive and take years to run, investigators often only get one shot at an evaluation, making it difficult or impossible to learn from the results and continuously adjust the intervention to make it more effective.
All around the world, cities are building new neighborhoods and developments at a scale never before seen in human history. Designing these massive construction projects -- and ensuring that they are energy-efficient and livable for decades to come -- exceeds the limits of the tools architects and urban planners have used in the past. So the CI's Urban Center for Computation and Data, in partnership with architecture firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill, the Clean Energy Trust, and developers McCaffery Interests, are developing a new, more powerful platform for city design, called LakeSim. With the 600-acre Chicago Lakeside Development on the South Side of the city as its test case, UrbanCCD scientists at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory are combining high-performance scientific models with modern urban design tools to produce long-term and high-resolution estimates for critical urban dimensions such as energy, transportation, wastewater, and more.