The open release of city data has given residents exciting new ways of interacting with and benefiting from the information collected by city agencies. But what if there was a way to collect even broader, higher-resolution data on the daily life of the city, providing a massive stream of open data for research and the development of new applications to improve urban life? The Array of Things is a project of the CI's Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD) to deploy interactive, modular sensor boxes around Chicago to collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and motion for research and public use. While the first nodes won't be installed along Michigan Avenue until later this summer, the media has seized upon the idea as an exciting new way of "instrumenting" a city for the greater good.
There's a new debate heating up in the world of climate modeling -- not the fictitious "debate" that plays out in the media over climate change and its causes, but a contest over the best methods to forecast how climate change will affect the planet. Until now, the dominant approach has been deterministic models, which use environmental variables and equations replicating physical laws to run numerical simulations of climate. But as these models seek higher and higher resolution, they become extremely expensive computationally, without much improvement in forecasting accuracy.
The movement towards open data from city governments has inspired the development of new methods for data analysis. But what about new methods for the collection of data? Beginning this summer, the CI's Urban Center for Computation and Data will work with the City of Chicago to install 30 to 50 "sensor nodes" on light poles in the downtown area, giving researchers and the community new streams of information on climate, traffic, city infrastructure, and other facets of city life.