SENSEable Cities: Exploring Urban Futures at the City Centered Festival

City Centered Festival is a free, three-day festival of locative media and urban community in San Francisco. The event included demonstrations and installations in the Tenderloin district, a symposium in the Mission district and community training workshops, and it just took place in June 2010.

We want to make an overview on the work that the MIT SENSEable Cities presented there. You already know about our deep interest in the use of new and innovative tools to explore and research the concept of “relational city“, so let’s take a look:

Since 2003, MIT’s SENSEable City Laboratory has been investigating how emerging digital technologies can be employed to make cities more livable, sustainable and efficient. We recognize that the digital revolution has lent our cities a new layer of functionality and that now is the time to explore how sensors, cellphones, micro-controllers and networks of other handheld devices can be used to more effectively manage city infrastructure, optimize transportation, analyze our environmental impact and foster new communities. Some of the projects are:

New York Talk Exchange

Exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, New York Talk Exchange asks the question: How does the city of New York connect to the global conversation? Using phone and IT data, the images reveal the real time connections between various boroughs and the countries they connect to. More info, here.


The iSPOTS project aims at describing changes in living and working at MIT by mapping the dynamics of the wireless network in real-time. Thus, the complex and dispersed individual movement patterns that make up the daily life of the campus can be revealed, helping TO answer many questions: Which physical spaces are preferred for work in the MIT community? How could future physical planning of the campus suit the community’s changing needs? Which location-based services would be most helpful for students and academics?

Also, as many cities around the world are launching extensive wireless initiatives, the analysis of the MIT environment could provide valuable insights for the future. Will today’s MIT be tomorrow’s norm? More info, here.

Trash Track

Have you ever wondered where your trash goes? MIT researchers attached tags to trash to track it. Some trash is provincial, expiring not far from home, while other objects travel great distances to be disposed of.

Trash Track has received wide attention in the national and international press. It has been deployed in several U.S. cities, including Seattle and New York. More info, here.

These are just some of the projects developed by the SENSEable CityLab, you can see all of their projects at their web-site. And don’t forget our aims and interest at the Master Programme:

It is real that in the current times, we all teach and learn at the same time, and if we are able to support our academic research using all this tools which are part of everyday life, we are confident that the results will be one step closer to understanding our cities in a better way. That’s why we decided to include, as part of the global price of the Master Programme, an iPad for each student, that they will receive when the programme starts and we will use it to document our workshops and itineraries around the city and to develop mapping tools that reinforce our learning path.

More info about the Master Programme and web-site for registration, here.


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