And you thought Sim City was fun…

September 14, 2006

Over the past few years, urban planners, architects and engineers have been exploring the use of game engines to visualize everything from individual structures to the evolution of entire cities. But with the current explosion in ubiquitous computing, such visualizations are moving away from pure simulation to embrace real-time tracking of urban components such as public transit, taxis, utlities and even individual citizens. At this year’s Venice Bienale, MIT’s SENSEable City Lab presented Real Time Rome, an incredible synthesis of these technologies that points to an urban future that will be defined by the aggregation and dynamic analysis of an ever-increasing supply of surveillance feeds:

In today’s world, wireless mobile communications devices are creating new dimensions of interconnectedness between people, places, and urban infrastructure. This ubiquitous connectivity within the urban population can be observed and interpreted in real-time, through aggregate records collected from communication networks. Real-time visualizations expose the dynamics of the contemporary city as urban systems coalesce: traces of information and communication networks, movement patterns of people and transportation systems, spatial and social usage of streets and neighborhoods. Observing the real-time city becomes a means to understanding the present and anticipating the future of urban environments. In the visualizations of Real Time Rome we synthesize data from various real-time networks to understand patterns of daily life in Rome. We interpolate the aggregate mobility of people according to their mobile phone usage and visualize it synchronously with the flux of public transit, pedestrians, and vehicular traffic. By overlaying mobility information on geographic and socio-economic references of Rome we unveil the relationships between fixed and fluid urban elements. These real-time maps help us understand how neighborhoods are used in the course of a day, how the distribution of buses and taxis correlates with densities of people, how goods and services are distributed in the city, or how different social groups, such as tourists and residents, inhabit the city. With the resulting visualizations users can interpret and react to the shifting urban environment. Real Time Rome respects individual privacy and only uses aggregate data already collected by communication service providers; also, it is hoped that the exhibit will stimulate dialogue on access and responsible use of such data. (Real Time Rome)

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One Response to “And you thought Sim City was fun…”

  1. tasha Says:

    this website is sooooooo stupid that it is not funny


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