Computer networks are merging with the physical infrastructure of the city in order to track how people use the city space. This makes once passive objects, like streets, active producers of data informing decisions about urban planning and policy. Embedded sensors are currently producing a large amount of data. The network technology can visualise city traffic flow, see where people move during the day, see how people use their cell phones as they are on the move, track criminal activity and allow us to communicate with one another. As Popupcity.net notes, “Often this data is not stored or collected. Often it is stored without being shared.” We are just beginning to explore the possibilities of a networked city, where ”objects will cease being passive and evolve into being active, responding to activity happening in real time and facilitating and contributing to networks of social exchange and discourse, rearranging the rules of occupancy and patterns of mobility within the physical world.”
“We are surrounded by objects and spaces that have their own network and identity. their own informational shadow… Our urban places are increasingly becoming characterised in formats that are machine readable, human readable. They are telling us about themselves. They are speaking themselves to us. We are surrounded by objects that are capable of gathering, processing, transmitting information.” - Adam Greenfield
His company Urbanscale makes cities easier to understand, more pleasant to use and live in and more responsive to the desires of their inhabitants.
A talk from Adam Greenfield that gives a good overview of how public objects can be connected - click here to watch.
An essay presenting possibilities for the networked city: A Manifesto for Networked Objects - Cohabitating with Pigeons, Arphids, Aibos in the Internet of Things