Fabien Girardin from MIT SENSEable City Lab has a fascinating presentation available online which describes how cities could become “responsive” thanks to new urban actors that can monitor activity real time. Technology like mobile phones, speed cameras, pollution sensors and CCTV systems could be used to make the city react to its population. There aren’t too many examples of how this might happen, but Girarden explains why this will probably happen. On his site, he says:

In this presentation I discussed the deployment of new urban actors as instigators of new types of data at the source of a sentient city. These new technologies should not be perceived as drivers of urban change (like often misconceived), but are rather caught up in complex socio-technical assemblages and evolution. They can be used to solve a problem, but might create others therefore failing to contributing to the health of society. That being said, I showcased the use of digital footprints and digital shadows generated by our interactions with these new actors to reveal the invisible (with still many obscurities). In a near future, their visualizations and analysis could very well complete traditional techniques to understand urban dynamics. The real-time availability of these information and evidences extracted from the analysis of these data could lead services part of a responsive city; a city that observes and improves rather than predicts and accommodates. They provide an opportunity to reveal the imperfections of our chaotic cities (and we love them for that) to promote the appropriation of services that have fluctuant quality. This implies a change of approach from the current design of urban services based on the mythologies of a perfect, uniform informational landscape.

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