With all the talk today about the definition of the “smart city”, I thought it’d be nice to have my last post of the course concern the definition of the smart city given by Wikipedia. I assume this page is a contested one, nevertheless it seem that it provides an interesting entry point to the discussion that we had today. I enjoyed the class! Hope to see you around.
So this is awesome…
An Outdoor Gym Where Your Workout Creates Power http://www.fastcoexist.com/1679815/an-outdoor-gym-where-your-workout-creates-power
and so is this! http://unchartedplay.com/howitworks.html
Exercise being used to produce power and electricity…REALLY AWESOME! We all know that the U.S. has an obesity problem and renewable energy is the new black…these innovations show the potential of a future filled with fit, healthy people all using renewable energy to charge their phones and light their desk lamps. It’s very encouraging to think of what other things will be created when technology and really creative minds come together! I don’t know about you, but I am really excited!!
Technology for smart homes and cities
Eco idea house (http://panasonic.co.jp/ecohouse/en/), Japan’s equivalent of Masdar located in Panasonic center Tokyo by saving energy, creating energy and storing energy is their mantra of achieving zero carbon emission and sustainable lifestyle. The project goes little beyond Masdar by making the homes smarter by doing the energy management and telling the homes when best to do laundry. Houses fitted with technology to make it more environmentally sustainable while providing more reliable solutions for households to make their living and lifestyle much smoother.
Again, typical to Masdar, the planning is top down approach, real estate development as its core focus and typical challenges of financing and replicability of these type of smart city initiatives continue to exist.
Internet of things
A recent McKinsey Quarterlyarticle notes the development of an “internet of things” that will develop in the future because of an increasing number of sensors that are being implemented in everyday objects. These sensors and actuators are embedded into physical objects that range from roadways to pacemakers, and oftentimes these sensors and actuators are then linked through both wired and wireless networks to the internet.
The obvious usage of this new technology implementation is as a tracking tool and as a tool to collect important data for various uses. However, like many new technologies, the application of such a technology is likely vast and will only become more vast when the technology becomes more ubiquitous. The push that some of these sensory backed applications will get into ubiquity is in part due to faster wireless networks and fiber technologies that will make computing faster.
Some of the more interesting application for this technology that McKinsey has thought of is as a tracking mechanism where people’s behaviors and motions can be monitored and applied in some business applications, whether through targeted advertising (already in use in some Japanese billboards) or through remote management of industry supply chains. McKinsey notes other uses of such technology, either as a resource management system, as a resource optimization system or process optimization system.
Where does my data go?
Two personal experiences:
First -A few days ago, I received an email from by bank in the US alerting me of “Irregular Debit Card Activity”. I checked my bank account online and discovered that someone has been using my debit card data to purchase products in New Jersey and Ohio. What? How did they get a hold of my debit card data? Thankfully my bank has in the mean time promised to get my back.
Second - My fiancé and I are getting married in Dubai later this year. Both of us are very excited and are spending some good time planning for the event. We are using the internet to buy some important things such as a cake toppers and props for the photo booth. Now, yesterday I find a postcard in my mailbox advertising “The best place in New York to have a bachelorette party - The ultimate in drag dining”. What? Who asked for this? How did they get my mailing address?
Data theft on the internet is an old story. There’s been so much talk about it all over the world that people seem to have forgotten to do something about. It might not really be theft in the case of the bachelorette party advertising; however, people who shouldn’t have had access to my personal data did. As much as I love doing things online, I have now decided to be very careful when using the internet on my laptop and data services on my phone.
This Picture was very hot last year in China. It is taken by a traffic surveillance camera because the Nissan in the picture was speeding. However, it also revealed that, while the driver’s one hand was steering the car, his other hand was busy steering the girl next seat’s breasts. The picture spread rapidly in China’s twitter equivalent Weibo. And Chinese hackers was able to identify the two in the picture and the woman turned out to be the man’s mistress.
While the story this picture tells couldn’t be more interesting, what’s worth thinking is that, while adopting advanced technology like this speed recording camera certainly improved road safety management efficiency, it also invade in privacy. What if the two in the picture turned out to be a couple? Would the transportation department still able to get by because the two victims were too busy dealing with their affairs exposed? Or what if this happens in United States?
To put this into the grander smart cities development arena, many of the new technologies adopted in those cities are first being put into usage, so that there might lack certain regulations or supervision mechanism exist to cope with the unintended consequences. What precautions should cities take to ensure that while they can seize the opportunities to develop with state-of-the-art technologies, they will not end up cleaning up the mess created by unintended consequences brought by the new technologies?
Situated Technologies Conference - Big Data
Here are some brief highlights:
- The contextual integrity of data is very important. What you tell your girlfriend about an event is different than what you tell your father. Computer applications rarely can account for this nuance (Helen Nissenbaum).
- Digital tech makes the boundaries of built environment more porous. We live in an age of modulation, the program is malleable, the spaces overlap. Media starts defining our sense of containment along with architecture. (Kazys Varnelis)
- The internet surfs us, we no longer surf the net. (Kazys Varnelis)
- Now with mobile tech, footpaths and surveillance, physical boundaries do not mark what can be seen about us anymore. (Jerry Kang)
- Is culture lagging behind the obvious. is privacy dead? Is there a trend towards greater self exposure? (Jerry Kang)
- High end residential architecture is becoming more transparent. The default is all public in such designs, the bathroom walls are translucent, but then the shades can provide the opaqueness. For older architecture,transparency was more for public buildings and less in private ones. (Jerry Kang)
- We don’t make rational decisions because we have better data. Pachube is not about making data public, the public making data. Building their own hypothesis. Making decisions. Generalized neighborhood map of air quality is different than personal air quality data. (Usman Haque)
- Data spectatorship. We all make sense of data, using our resources. (Natalie Jeremijenko)
- How to turn data into knowledge we can think with? (Laura Kurgan)
Overall, the conference provided a good balance of theory and case studies across many disciplines. There was no clear outcome or consensus what is the right design approach, but everyone is excited about the possibility space. Looking forward to the next conference!
using smartphones to help blind navigate independently
A combination of robot sensing and smartphones is supposed to help blind people to nagivate independently throught their environment, says an article in New Scientist. A pair of glasses that is equipped with cameras and sensors constantly updates a 3D-map that is generated with the help of free 2D indoor maps and the accelerometer and compass that are built in smartphones. All this is then displayed in a simplified form on an electronic braille device. The developers (a team from ISIR at Sorbonne in Paris) expect the tool to eventually help blind people to make their way through the environment without the help of others.
I think this can be a great tool to empower people with disabilities and their independence. However, thinking about bugs in systems, I was wondering how well this system will work in actual practice, in dense areas, in crowded areas and what the consequences would be if it does not? If it does work, could voice recognition be included to make navigation even better when navigating through dense urban areas?
The tool will be presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in St Paul, Minnesota.