8. AN OPEN DATA ENVIRONMENT

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Greenfield proposes a situation in which the same infrastrcuture used to capture, visualise and analyse the data of an Intelligent Operatcion Center could be used by the same citizens that generate data. It could be used to raise questions of equity and the distribution of municipal resources and to open up questions of power and access.

“This reques that the proprietary arrangements forseen by the corporate protagonists of the smart city are replaced with free and open licences for citizen-generated data.“
Despite its shortcomings, there are lessons to be learned from Smart City rhetoric.
Benjamin Bratton proposes that one half of all architects and urbanists stop designing new buildings. Instead, they should be focusing their attention on the design and development of new software that provides for better use of structures and systems we already have.
Bratton proposes the above as an ‘experiment,’ I would go further and suggest that in the coming decades, the architects and urbanists in Bratton’s proposal will have very little say in the matter. Architects will surely have to drastically redefine themselves and the entire profession if they are to survive.
The future city should be an adaptive, inter-connected, self-organizing network that can respond to users’ needs, case by case. An adaptive city that can respond to change, relieving the population of the short sightedness of politicians and urban planners.
Perhaps finally, the technology is emerging to support such a system, big data, the internet of things and machine learning can all facilitate in the move towards such a city.
This city should behave like a connected network divided into cells. These cells are capable of communicating with and learning from one another. Furthermore, they are ever expanding and repositioning themselves to suit the collective needs of its users.
From micro to macro scale, the city is interconnected. From object, to element, to neighbourhood to city, to cities.
The built environment should possess means of adaption and seek to emulate macro-intelligence that can be observed in nature and potentially exploited through bio-mimicry.
The future city should be one that is self-organized and inter-connected. It should be continuously responding and adapting itself to the populace. The city observes patterns in its people and responds accordingly. It is a continuous feedback loop: the citizens shape the city, both physically and culturally and the city in turn shapes and influences its people.
The future adaptive city should have three connection types or loops:
• People – People.
• object – object.
• People – object.
The idea of adaptive cities is not necessarily new, (Archigram’s walking city or Constant’s new Babylon spring to mind.) But they, unfortunately did not, or perhaps could not have prophesied the level of technology being making itself available to us.
Behnaz Farahi hints at the possibilities for an adaptive city or at least, building element with her installation/project, ‘breathing wall.’ She explores the potential for a gesture-based interaction with the built environment by employing the use of a leap motion device as means of controlling the wall remotely.
She writes:
In the future it may even be possible to design a direct interface which allows users to interact with their environments without any intermediary mechanism. Such interfaces will make control of our physical environment much easier.
But how would Farahi’s wall react to brainwaves rather than gestures? What if the scale, form, texture, material, colour were also adaptive? Let’s go one step further and ask what if it was only a ‘wall’ when it needed to be? Could it become a window? A door? A shelter? A communication device? A city?
We must explore how an adaptive city might respond to certain real life events. For example, how does an adaptive city respond to:
• An act of terrorism?
• An earthquake, flood or natural disaster?
• War?
• An overflow of refugees from a nearby war or natural disaster?
• Disease?

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I would propose that the adaptive city would and should be continuously learning from the data provided by all its citizens and nodes. How it responds to one of the above situations the first time should differ from the second, third and hundredth.
What’s more, could one adaptive city be communicating with another elsewhere on the planet? Tweaking its response to the above situations to suit its own unique requirements. This of course changes the scale of an interconnected city to an interconnect earth.
It’s also impossible to answer how the city may look. This is a something that should be embraced, it’s not until the populace has been given the tools that the city can begin to take shape. The city should be as unique as its people. Each city and its elements are the sum of its experiences, thoughts, feelings and emotions. A part of themselves reflected in the built environment.
The adaptive city should get ‘smarter,’ that is, react in a way that is more beneficial to more people depending on how many users are interacting with it. Pattern seeking algorithms can respond to the city much faster than observers can.
It should act like a neural network: Each building, or building element, or person, or whatever would act like a digital neuron. Constantly firing information to its neighbours, doubling back for confirmation, and spreading throughout the built environment. This creates a self-assembled, selforganized complex landscape.
It would be foolish to observe one of these components separately, it should rather be considered as one element in a vast network. As Steven Johnson in his book Emergence writes, “there has to be feedback between agents, cells that change in response to the changes in other cells.”
In the example of the neural network, an experience persists in the form of reverberating neural circuits which become more strongly defined with repetition. Patterns emerge reinforcing the physical city space, Johnson comments that this process: “marks out a fixed space in the brain and thereafter become part of our mental vocabulary,” in the case of the city, replace ‘mental vocabulary’ with ‘physical vocabulary. ‘
Jane Jacobs commented as early as the 50s: “Vital cities have marvellous innate abilities for understanding, communicating, contriving and inventing what is required to combat their difficulties,” Johnson on Jacobs comments that cities get their order from below; they are learning machines, pattern recognizers—even when the patterns they respond to are unhealthy ones.
Jacobs is right in that cities already have a life-like quality of their own and the ability to adapt. I would argue however that the potential for a city to change and adapt depends heavily on its people, unfortunately, the current situation is that not all users are given an equal say in the shape, culture and feel of their environment.

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I have identified 12 initiatives that I believe will be the core principles of such a city system:
No Central Hub or Group
There are entire fields of study dedicated to the importance of networks. Johnson suggests that a good peer network needs the following traits, (many of which are expanded upon in the proceeding core initiatives):
Decentralised – there should be no single individual or group that is in charge of the system.
Dense – A larger number of participants make more connections between themselves.
Diverse -Individual participants bring their own values and perspectives to the network.
There should be an emphasis on open exchange over private property – New ideas are free to flow through the network.
The network should come in stacks layers.
New platforms should be built on the old.
Defines and Provides rewards for participation
Users are rewarded for their participation in the system. The more they contribute, the more their built environment reflects their own needs. Citizens don’t necessarily have to ‘subscribe’ to the platform, they can develop their own, or live off the grid as it were.
The city should learn.
Machine learning is a scientific study that deals with the construction and study of algorithms that can learn from data. Such algorithms operate by building a model based on inputs and using that to make predictions or decisions, rather than following only explicitly programmed instructions.
Encourages Diversity
The platform should also encourage diversity, I don’t necessarily mean diversity in the sense of race or culture, but also professional, economic and intellectual. Society, is smarter more innovative and more flexible in our thinking when diverse perspectives collaborate. Studies have shown that diversity matters more than individual brain power. Problem solving capacity is much greater in diverse networks.
Negative Feedback
Negative feedback occurs when some function of the output of a system is fed back in a manner than tends to reduce the fluctuations in the output. Whether caused by changes in the input or any other disturbances. Negative feedback loops in which just the right amount of correction is applied in the most timely manner can be very stable and accurate and responsive. Negative feedback is widely used in mechanical and electronic engineering, but it also occurs naturally in living organisms.
Monitors Data and Security
When our data is bought and sold by websites, questions of privacy security and ownership are raised. For a system like this to work, it would have to be completely open, but still secure with peoples private details. Data would have to be freely available to everyone.
Encourages real life interactions
A lot of people are voicing their concerns over the fact that we’re losing real life interaction and instead spending too much time behind a screen. But its possible, in a city where users are defining their own spaces, they will be inclined to spend more time in the built environment, increasing the possibility of chance encounters with others.
Self organising and Adaptive
The system should be able to self organise and adapt as time passes to use evolution as a metaphor, cells self-organise into more complicated structures by learning from their neighbours a meshwork of these cells then influence the behaviour of other cells, creating more complex life forms.
Pattern searching
The system should also be continuously searching for patterns in the data. The system would eventually be able to make predictions based on old inputs.
Find a balance of all user’s needs
A utopia is impossible to achieve, but perhaps in an environment where everyone has access to the same data, and a platform where everyone’s input is equal, we can move towards a society that doesn’t favour one group or one social class.
Test real life solutions virtually
At least in the early days, real life proposals can be tested in virtual reality. But eventually this will become more seamless, and micro-adjustments will be made and continuously monitored.
Encourage prosumers from consumers
Citizens should be actively involved in the design and manufacture of their products.
So what is the architect’s role in all of this?
The architect must reinvent herself as the designer of the tools that will be provided to the city’s citizens. She must be working vigorously in producing adaptive, smart materials, researching emergent, evolutionary and self-organizing systems that can be found in the natural environment and championing for the openness of data.
As Ivan Chtecheglov wrote over 50 years ago:
The architecture of tomorrow will be a means of modifying present conceptions of time and space. It will be means of knowledge and a means of action. The architectural complex will be modifiable. Its aspect will change totally or partially in accordance with the will of its inhabitants.”

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PRESSURE - the force applied perpendicular to the surface of an object. Pressure sensors can be embedded into the physical environment in the likes of doors or floors or any element that experiences physical force. It can be used to gauge the position of people on floors to aid in way-finding or to monitor if someone were to fall to the floor in an accident.

PRESSURE

PRESSURE

BLUETOOTH -A wireless technology for exchanging data over short distances. Most Internet of Things devices will have a sensor like Bluetooth to provide the link between objects, people, elements and the data server (usually the cloud) . Bluetooth (or wifi/cellular) provides the link between objects and is what connects the built environment to the internet.

BLUETOOTH

BLUETOOTH

TIME - the indefinite continued progress  Time is a 'broad' sensor. All sensors will record time, as well as respond to time. Time sensors used to monitor   the sequence in which elements are used allows elements to anticipate their use, creating a highly responsive   built environment.

TIME

TIME – the indefinite continued progress Time is a ‘broad’ sensor. All sensors will record time, as well as respond to time. Time sensors used to monitor the sequence in which elements are used allows elements to anticipate their use, creating a highly responsive built environment.

MOTION - the act or process of changing position or place.  Motion sensors are used to detect and analyse either the type of movement a person makes within a space or   the movement of a person through a space. Motion can be relayed onto other objects and inform how these   objects operate, for example, a wall measuring the motion of someone when they awake triggering the lights to   switch on.

MOTION

MOTION – the act or process of changing position or place. Motion sensors are used to detect and analyse either the type of movement a person makes within a space or the movement of a person through a space. Motion can be relayed onto other objects and inform how these objects operate, for example, a wall measuring the motion of someone when they awake triggering the lights to switch on.

SOUND - vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person's   or animal's ear.  Sound sensors are used to measure noise levels across a range of frequencies. Sound sensors can be used to   activate security measures, for example, if elements register a sound such as glass breaking, an alarm could be   triggered. Sound sensors could also be sensitive enough to sense vibration alerting of foundation movement.

SOUND

SOUND – vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person’s or animal’s ear. Sound sensors are used to measure noise levels across a range of frequencies. Sound sensors can be used to activate security measures, for example, if elements register a sound such as glass breaking, an alarm could be triggered. Sound sensors could also be sensitive enough to sense vibration alerting of foundation movement.

RFID – (radio frequency identification) - the wireless use of electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects. RFID tags are used in a similar manner to barcodes, to record and track the usage and locations of possessions. Unlike a barcode, the tag contains electronically stored information, which can be transmitted to the reader from remote sites, offering greater flexibility of use.

RFID

RFID – (radio frequency identification) – the wireless use of electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects. RFID tags are used in a similar manner to barcodes, to record and track the usage and locations of possessions. Unlike a barcode, the tag contains electronically stored information, which can be transmitted to the reader from remote sites, offering greater flexibility of use.

SMOKE – a visible suspension of carbon or other particles in air, typically one emitted from a burning substance.  Smoke detectors analyse the air for smoke, typically as an indicator of fire. The sensors activate automatic   opening vents to extract the smoke from the building. When smoke is detected, an audible or visual alarm is   triggered and the emergency services are alerted.

SMOKE

SMOKE

PARTICLES – a minute portion of matter.  Particle detectors are used to detect, track and/or identify high energy particles, such as those produced by   nuclear decay or cosmic radiation. In unsafe conditions, sensors can alert people in the surrounding area to   evacuate and alert the emergency services immediately.

PARTICLES

PARTICLES – a minute portion of matter. Particle detectors are used to detect, track and/or identify high energy particles, such as those produced by nuclear decay or cosmic radiation. In unsafe conditions, sensors can alert people in the surrounding area to evacuate and alert the emergency services immediately.

TOUCH – the physiological sense by which external objects or forces are perceived through contact with the   body.  Touch sensors are used to operate elements within the built environment. Different types of touch motion i.e tap,   swipe, push trigger different actions. Touch recognition allows preferences to be recorded for multiple users.

TOUCH

TOUCH – the physiological sense by which external objects or forces are perceived through contact with the body. Touch sensors are used to operate elements within the built environment. Different types of touch motion i.e tap, swipe, push trigger different actions. Touch recognition allows preferences to be recorded for multiple users.

WIND – the perceptible natural movement of the air, especially in the form of a current of air blowing from a  particular direction. Wind meters are used to measure wind speed and direction over a certain area. If high levels   of wind are detected, protection measures are triggered to improve the comfort of an environment. During   extreme levels of wind, people may be instructed to evacuate or emergency services may be alerted.

WIND

WIND – the perceptible natural movement of the air, especially in the form of a current of air blowing from a particular direction. Wind meters are used to measure wind speed and direction over a certain area. If high levels of wind are detected, protection measures are triggered to improve the comfort of an environment. During extreme levels of wind, people may be instructed to evacuate or emergency services may be alerted.

TEMPERATURE – a measure of the average kinetic energy of atoms or molecules in a system.  Temperature sensors are used to monitor both the ambient temperature of a space and the temperature of   individuals within that space. The sensors can trigger temperature adjustments for the whole space or local to the   user, to improve user comfort levels.

TEMPERATURE

TEMPERATURE – a measure of the average kinetic energy of atoms or molecules in a system. Temperature sensors are used to monitor both the ambient temperature of a space and the temperature of individuals within that space. The sensors can trigger temperature adjustments for the whole space or local to the user, to improve user comfort levels.

HEART RATE – the number of heartbeats per unit of time, usually per minute.  Heart rate monitors are used to measure the heart rate of individuals, to help identify comfort levels and also   potential health risks. If an individual experiences heart problems, the emergency services can be alerted   immediately.

HEART RATE

HEART RATE – the number of heartbeats per unit of time, usually per minute. Heart rate monitors are used to measure the heart rate of individuals, to help identify comfort levels and also potential health risks. If an individual experiences heart problems, the emergency services can be alerted immediately.

SPEECH - the sound produced by the vocal organs of a vertebrate, especially a human.  Voice commands are used to instruct elements to perform a certain task or to initiate certain events. Voice   recognition allows preferences to be recorded for multiple users.

SPEECH

SPEECH – the sound produced by the vocal organs of a vertebrate, especially a human. Voice commands are used to instruct elements to perform a certain task or to initiate certain events. Voice recognition allows preferences to be recorded for multiple users.

FLAME – a hot glowing body of ignited gas that is  Flame sensors are used to detect and respond to the presence of a flame or fire. When a flame or fire is   detected, the sensor can trigger various responses, in the form of an alarm, a sprinkler system or deactivation of   a fuel line. A flame detector can often respond faster and more accurately than a smoke or heat detector,   enabling immediate evacuation of an affected area.

FLAME

FLAME – a hot glowing body of ignited gas that is Flame sensors are used to detect and respond to the presence of a flame or fire. When a flame or fire is detected, the sensor can trigger various responses, in the form of an alarm, a sprinkler system or deactivation of a fuel line. A flame detector can often respond faster and more accurately than a smoke or heat detector, enabling immediate evacuation of an affected area.

BRIGHTNESS – the   effect  Light sensors are used to monitor and adjust the brightness of a space. An optimum level of illuminance can be   achieved to improve user comfort or to enhance the experience of a space, for example, the lighting in a gallery   adjusted to consider the level of natural daylighting.

BRIGHTNESS

BRIGHTNESS – the effect Light sensors are used to monitor and adjust the brightness of a space. An optimum level of illuminance can be achieved to improve user comfort or to enhance the experience of a space, for example, the lighting in a gallery adjusted to consider the level of natural daylighting.

AIR QUALITY – the degree to which air in a particular place is pollution-free.  Air quality sensors sample the air regularly to analyse pollution content i.e dust, pollen, gas. The sensors trigger   the extraction of pollutants to improve air quality and user comfort. The sensors can alert the user or emergency   services in a case where the level of pollutant is dangerous.

AIR QUALITY

AIR QUALITY – the degree to which air in a particular place is pollution-free. Air quality sensors sample the air regularly to analyse pollution content i.e dust, pollen, gas. The sensors trigger the extraction of pollutants to improve air quality and user comfort. The sensors can alert the user or emergency services in a case where the level of pollutant is dangerous.

WATER – a clear, colourless, odourless, and tasteless liquid, H2O, essential for most plant and animal life.  Moisture sensors are used to monitor the moisture content of both natural and built elements. The sensors can   be used to trigger responses to improve user comfort or safety. In natural environments, high levels or water   detection can trigger a flood warning. In the built environment, early water detection can prevent water damage to   infrastructure.

WATER

WATER – a clear, colourless, Moisture sensors are used to monitor the moisture content of both natural and built elements. The sensors can be used to trigger responses to improve user comfort or safety. In natural environments, high levels or water detection can trigger a flood warning. In the built environment, early water detection can prevent water damage to infrastructure.

EEG – (electroencephalogram) a test that detects electrical activity in the brain using electrodes.  EEGs are used to map the brain activity of individual to gauge comfort, mood and responses to the environment.   Impulse responses to changes in the surrounding can be recorded and used to improve the environmental   conditions according to individual user preferences.

EEG

EEG – (electroencephalogram) a test that detects electrical activity in the brain using electrodes. EEGs are used to map the brain activity of individual to gauge comfort, mood and responses to the environment. Impulse responses to changes in the surrounding can be recorded and used to improve the environmental conditions according to individual user preferences.

PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time, or relationship.  Proximity sensors use infrared to detect the presence of nearby objects without any physical contact. Elements   are able to detect the distance between themselves, other elements and individuals. When certain proximity is   recorded between two elements or an element and an individual, the element is triggered to respond with an   action.

PROXIMITY

PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time, or relationship. Proximity sensors use infrared to detect the presence of nearby objects without any physical contact. Elements are able to detect the distance between themselves, other elements and individuals. When certain proximity is recorded between two elements or an element and an individual, the element is triggered to respond with an action.

LOCATION – a particular place or position where something is or where something is occurring.  Position sensors are used to record the location of people and objects. Sensors are able to track both individual’s   movements and place-specific events, enabling the surrounding environment to alter to suit the preferences of   each individual and of each event.

LOCATION

LOCATION – a particular place or position where something is or where something is occurring. Position sensors are used to record the location of people and objects. Sensors are able to track both individual’s movements and place-specific events, enabling the surrounding environment to alter to suit the preferences of each individual and of each event.

CAMERA – a device for recording visual images in the form of photographs, film, or video signals.  Cameras are incorporated into elements, enabling both still images and video recordings to be captured at all   times. These images and recordings can be relayed instantly to other elements which are responsible for   adjusting the environment, either to enhance user comfort or to improve security.

CAMERA

CAMERA – a device for recording visual images in the form of photographs, film, or video signals. Cameras are incorporated into elements, enabling both still images and video recordings to be captured at all times. These images and recordings can be relayed instantly to other elements which are responsible for adjusting the environment, either to enhance user comfort or to improve security.

BARCODE - a machine-readable code in the form of numbers widths, printed on a commodity and used especially for stock control. Barcodes are used to scan items as they pass from one threshold to another i.e. doors, corridors, windows. The use of possessions is recorded and their locations tracked. A low stock item is replenished or redistributed accordingly.

BARCODE

BARCODE – a machine-readable code in the form of numbers widths, printed on a commodity and used especially for stock control. Barcodes are used to scan items as they pass from one threshold to another i.e. doors, corridors, windows. The use of possessions is recorded and their locations tracked. A low stock item is replenished or redistributed accordingly.