The Array of Things project is a fascinating initiative from the City of Chicago, launched in 2014. The project aims to establish a network of sensors throughout the city to create and provide data to scientists and policy makers, as well as residents. The aim is that these insights into city living will better inform policy makers and research projects and improve the lives of residents.
Described as a ‘fit bit for the city’, each sensor measures everything from light, pollution, barometric pressure, and temperature to movement, vehicles and animals. Due to security concerns of residents, the sensor itself is designed to be approachable and unthreatening. Briefly perusing the comments section of the introduction video from the computation institute, you’ll see a lot of comments suggesting the project is some kind of 1984-style surveillance system. But, security cameras are already very much active. This project is really about creating smart urban planning and I couldn’t be in more support of it. The project positions Chicago as a leader in urban data analysis and offers unique, block by block data on urban design and city policy.
During the recent local election I have advocated for the introduction of smart technology in our everyday lives. We have technology literally hanging off us, measuring our heartbeats, movements, steps and anything else – why shouldn’t our city have the same? Parking for example has been a consistent problem that people raise, why shouldn’t we introduce smart sensors to make parking more efficient? The City needs a strategic planning approach to position Sydney to meet future demands as Chicago has done. Not only would this parking proposal help residents and visitors more efficiently use available parking space, it would provide valuable data to the City of Sydney regarding regarding usage rates.
You can read more about the project here.