What does living in a smart city look like?
It might look like this.
When a city can gather data on every aspect of it’s citizens activities, what should we do with it? What products, services and environments should we develop?
Many private and public sector organisations are rushing us towards a future state where every cup of coffee, cell phone, taxi, bus, street and building will be self-aware and communicating with us and each other. Rather than asking when is this future coming, I’d like to ask what will we do once it’s here.
That’s the description of a class taught by George Aye at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I visited the class twice to hear and watch their presentation on minimizing disruptions caused by traffic crashes at a specific intersection, but whose new system elements can be transferred to other intersections in the city. When I came back the second time, the students had figured out a way to animate the intersection using a projector and mirror (which you see at the end of the video).
A static shot of the animation on the 3D paperboard and mixed material model.
The intersection in question is “The Crotch”, or the center of Wicker Park, at Milwaukee-North-Damen. The goal was to imagine how smart processes, policies, and technologies can be used to minimize the disruption of crashes at this intersection and others like it. The first phase of the students’ plan is about preventing crashes and the second phase is about speeding up the investigation. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read the class blog, which documents, through narrative, photos and video, the students’ progress.
Some of their proposal for Milwaukee Avenue in this area included:
- Barring private automobiles at certain times to give more room to more efficient modes, like buses and bicycles
- During the ban period, allow taxis and possibly car-sharing cars
- At all times of the day, deliveries (like beer) would be scheduled in advanced to better use existing and consolidated loading zones; when trucks use loading zones, they aren’t blocking traffic
- Implement a Barnes dance (pedestrian scramble) at The Crotch to accommodate existing pedestrian crossing behaviors and speed up crossing times of what are now two-leg crossings (like walking north or south on west side of Damen Avenue, which requires a crossing distance of about 180 feet on two segments while the crosswalk signal cycle may not let you do consecutively; a direct crossing is only 72 feet)
View the full Living in a smart city photoset