WikiCity: Real-Time Location-Sensitive Tools for the City

WikiCity: Real-Time Location-Sensitive Tools for the City

Francesco Calabrese (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-152-0.ch027
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The real-time city is now real! The increasing deployment of sensors and handheld electronic devices in recent years allows for a new approach to the study and exploration of the built environment. The WikiCity project deals with the development of real-time, location-sensitive tools for the city and is concerned with the real-time mapping of city dynamics. This mapping, however, is not limited to representing the city, but also instantly becomes an instrument for city inhabitants to base their actions and decisions upon in a better informed manner, leading to an overall increased efficiency and sustainability in making use of the city environment. While our comprehensive research program considers a larger context, this chapter discusses the WikiCity Rome project, which was the first occasion for implementing some of WikiCity’s elements in a public interface—it was presented on a large screen in a public square in Rome.
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People moving and acting in a city base their decisions on information that is, in most cases, not synchronized with their present time and place when making that decision1. How often have you arrived at the airport just to find out that your flight has been delayed, or been surprised by a traffic jam, or found that a product is out of stock or a service operator busy at the moment you need it.

In the same way, a person acting in a city contributes himself to dynamics of which others are not aware when making their decisions. Looked upon in this way, a city resembles what Deleuze and Guattari describe as a rhizome (Deleuze and Guattari, 1977). The rhizome is a philosophical network structure where every part is necessarily connected with every other part of the system. There are no preferential connections because every connection alters the overall network structure. As a consequence, the rhizome cannot be plotted since the plotting action itself is part of the rhizome and thus in the very moment of plotting its structure, the structure changes.

The WikiCity project, in a similar way, is concerned with the real-time mapping of city dynamics. This mapping, however, is not limited to representing the city, but instead becomes instantly an instrument upon which city inhabitants can base their actions and decisions in a better-informed manner. In this way the real-time map changes the city context, and this altered context changes the real-time map accordingly, with the ultimate aim of leading to an overall increased efficiency and sustainability in making use of the city environment.

Will such a WikiCity lead to more people attempting to be at the same place at the same time or in an increasing number of different places at different times? Designing a tool to address such a question requires considering whether and how the real-time map is capable of communicating different and context-based information to users in different circumstances and how people’s decisions, which were taken on the basis of the real-time information, are fed back into the system.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Real-Time System / Real-Time Control System: System for the control of a real entity by means of sensors, intelligence, and actuators

Rhizome: A philosophical network structure, put forward by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, in which every part is necessarily connected with every other part of the system. There are no preferential connections because every connection alters the overall network structure. The rhizome as a flat network is in contrast to arboreal structures connoted by a hierarchical structure.

Multimodal Interfaces: Interfaces that allow user interaction in more than one way such as visual display, sound, touch, and others.

Semantic Web: Extension of the World Wide Web in which the content is expressed in a way that is readable by software agents.

Tangible User Interfaces: Interface type that allows the user to interact with digital information by acting upon physical elements in the users’ environment.

Sensor network: Network of spatially distributed devices using sensors to cooperatively monitor physical or environmental conditions

Wiki: A Wiki is a software that allows users to collaboratively compose Web pages whose content is cross-referenced. One of the principles of the Wiki is that all users can actively create and edit the content in a continuous and open process which creates an ever-evolving whole.

Complete Chapter List

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List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Anthony Townsend
Marcus Foth
Marcus Foth
Chapter 1
Amanda Williams, Erica Robles, Paul Dourish
This chapter critically examines the notion of “the city” within urban informatics. Arguing that there is an overarching tendency to construe the... Sample PDF
Urbane-ing the City: Examining and Refining the Assumptions Behind Urban Informatics
Chapter 2
Jaz Hee-Jeong Choi, Adam Greenfield
Once a city shaped by the boundary conditions of heavy industrialisation and cheap labour, within a few years Seoul has transformed itself to one of... Sample PDF
To Connect and Flow in Seoul: Ubiquitous Technologies, Urban Infrastructure and Everyday Life in the Contemporary Korean City
Chapter 3
Nancy Odendaal
Recent literature on African cities examines the way in which social networks function as critical livelihood arteries in the ongoing survival... Sample PDF
Creating an Analytical Lens for Understanding Digital Networks in Urban South Africa
Chapter 4
Wayne Beyea
Community planning is facing many challenges around the world, such as the rapid growth of megacities as well as urban sprawl. The State of Michigan... Sample PDF
Place Making Through Participatory Planning
Chapter 5
Mike Ananny, Carol Strohecker
In this paper, we describe the design and installation of a new kind of public opinion forum—TexTales, a public, large-scale interactive projection... Sample PDF
TexTales: Creating Interactive Forums with Urban Publics
Chapter 6
Jenny Preece
This chapter describes a small networked community in which residents of an apartment building in Washington, D.C., USA supplement their... Sample PDF
An Event-Driven Community in Washington, DC: Forces That Influence Participation
Chapter 7
Fiorella De Cindio
After more than a decade of e-participation initiatives at the urban level, what remains obscure is the alchemy—i.e., the “arcane” combination of... Sample PDF
Moments and Modes for Triggering Civic Participation at the Urban Level
Chapter 8
Michael Veith
Societies face serious challenges when trying to integrate migrant communities. One-sided solutions do not pay tribute to the complexity of this... Sample PDF
Fostering Communities in Urban Multi-Cultural Neighbourhoods: Some Methodological Reflections
Chapter 9
Victor M. Gonzalez, Kenneth L. Kraemer, Luis A. Castro
The practical use of information technology devices in domestic and residential contexts often results in radical changes from their envisioned... Sample PDF
Beyond Safety Concerns: On the Practical Applications of Urban Neighbourhood Video Cameras
Chapter 10
Colleen Morgan
This chapter explores how we may design located information and communication technologies (ICTs) to foster community sentiment. It focuses... Sample PDF
The Figmentum Project: Appropriating Information and Communication Technologies to Animate Our Urban Fabric
Chapter 11
Barbara Crow, Michael Longford, Kim Sawchuk, Andrea Zeffiro
The Mobile Media Lab (MML) is a Canadian interdisciplinary research team exploring wireless communications, mobile technologies and locative media... Sample PDF
Voices from Beyond: Ephemeral Histories, Locative Media and the Volatile Interface
Chapter 12
Helen Klaebe
This chapter defines, explores and Illustrates research at the intersection of people, place and technology in cities. First, we theorise the notion... Sample PDF
Embedding an Ecology Notion in the Social Production of Urban Space
Chapter 13
Vassilis Kostakos, Eamonn O’Neill
In this paper, we describe a platform that enables us to systematically study online social networks alongside their real-world counterparts. Our... Sample PDF
Cityware: Urban Computing to Bridge Online and Real-World Social Networks
Chapter 14
Katharine S. Willis
In our everyday lives, we are surrounded by information which weaves itself silently into the very fabric of our existence. Much of the time we act... Sample PDF
Information Places: Navigating Interfaces between Physical and Digital Space
Chapter 15
Viktor Bedö
This chapter contributes to the ongoing effort to understand the nature of locative urban information by proposing that locative urban information... Sample PDF
A Visual Approach to Locative Urban Information
Chapter 16
Tristan Thielmann
Car navigation systems, based on “augmented reality,” no longer direct the driver through traffic by simply using arrows, but represent the... Sample PDF
Navigation Becomes Travel Scouting: The Augmented Spaces of Car Navigation Systems
Chapter 17
Daisuke Tamada
A lot of street view services, which present views of urban landscapes, have recently appeared. The conventional method for making street views... Sample PDF
QyoroView: Creating a Large-Scale Street View as User-Generated Content
Chapter 18
Hideyuki Nakanishi, Toru Ishida, Satoshi Koizumi
Many research projects have studied various aspects of smart environments including smart rooms, home, and offices. Few projects, however, have... Sample PDF
Virtual Cities for Simulating Smart Urban Public Spaces
Chapter 19
Andrew Hudson-Smith
Digital cities are moving well beyond their original conceptions as entities representing the way computers and communications are hard wired into... Sample PDF
The Neogeography of Virtual Cities: Digital Mirrors into a Recursive World
Chapter 20
Laura Forlano
This chapter introduces the role of community wireless networks (CWNs) in reconfiguring people, places and information in cities. CWNs are important... Sample PDF
Codespaces: Community Wireless Networks and the Reconfiguration of Cities
Chapter 21
Katrina Jungnickel, Genevieve Bell
From WiFi (802.11b) with its fixed and mobile high-speed wireless broadband Internet connectivity to WiMAX (802.16e), the newest wireless protocol... Sample PDF
Home is Where the Hub Is? Wireless Infrastructures and the Nature of Domestic Culture in Australia
Chapter 22
Andres Sevtsuk
This chapter presents the iSPOTS project, which collects and maps data of WiFi usage on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in... Sample PDF
Mapping the MIT Campus in Real Time Using WiFi
Chapter 23
John M. Carroll
We discuss the vision, plan, and status of a research project investigating community-oriented services and applications, comprising a wireless... Sample PDF
Supporting Community with Location-Sensitive Mobile Applications
Chapter 24
Christine Satchell
Early 21st century societies are evolving into a hybrid of real and synthetic worlds where everyday activities are mediated by technology. The... Sample PDF
From Social Butterfly to Urban Citizen: The Evolution of Mobile Phone Practice
Chapter 25
Jong-Sung Hwang
u-City is South Korea’s answer to urban community challenges leveraging ubiquitous computing technology to deliver state-of-the-art urban services.... Sample PDF
u-City: The Next Paradigm of Urban Development
Chapter 26
Dan Shang, Jean-François Doulet, Michael Keane
This chapter examines the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in urban China, focusing mainly on their impact on social... Sample PDF
Urban Informatics in China: Exploring the Emergence of the Chinese City 2.0
Chapter 27
Francesco Calabrese
The real-time city is now real! The increasing deployment of sensors and handheld electronic devices in recent years allows for a new approach to... Sample PDF
WikiCity: Real-Time Location-Sensitive Tools for the City
Chapter 28
Eric Paulos, RJ Honicky, Ben Hooker
In this chapter, we present an important new shift in mobile phone usage—from communication tool to “networked mobile personal measurement... Sample PDF
Citizen Science: Enabling Participatory Urbanism
Chapter 29
Mark Shepard
What happens to urban space given a hypothetical future where all information loses its body, that is, when it is offloaded from the material... Sample PDF
Extreme Informatics: Toward the De-Saturated City
Chapter 30
Roger J. Burrows
Is it still the case that one can symptomatically read the early work of the cyberpunk author William Gibson as a form of prefigurative urban theory... Sample PDF
Urban Informatics and Social Ontology
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