Future Cities Digest #20 (10/04/2014)

by Lukasz Alwast

#urban #data #behavioural #analytics

Interesting work happening at Cambridge Uni – a group of scientists are working on add-ons to the  ‘next generation recommendation engines’ thatshould be able to use behavioural and location data to determine events we’re most likely to attend – music festivals, sporting events and conferences. To get their insight, the group gathered and analysed Foursquare data on the movements of some 190,000 people in London, New York, and Chicago during an eight-month period in 2010 and 2011. The results provide a useful insight – it turns out that ultimately, the major influence on attendance is whether our friends are also there. This has a significant influence on recommendation engines, as anticipating consumer behaviour alongside social network data allows to increase sales – a feat that is often beyond conventional marketing and advertising techniques.

#tracking #developments #Yimby #NYC

 A useful online service has been recently launched in New York – a website which allows people to track the progress of new developments in the city. The website is called New York Yimby(Yes in My Backyard) and has floor plans, renderings and photography’s of buildings in the city,  as they are constructed. The creator of the website is 23 year old Nikolai Fedak, who collects data from developers, architects and The Department of Building. The site is primarily a platform for sharing information, but also construction workers appreciated the effort and started uploading instagram pictures to illustrate the developments in progress. Despite the political divide about the effects of real estate in New York, Fedak’s website has been described – even by estate policy critics – as a tool that provides a ‘useful perspective’ and ‘performs a real public service’.

#battersea #housing #desconstructivism  #Gehry

 The big news in the world of architecture this week has been unveiling the designs for the third phase of the Battersea Power Station redevelopment. Frank Gehry and Foster & Partners offices have joined forces to create a new ‘landmark neighbourhood for London’ – with shops, a community center, parks and 1300 new homes. Not surprisingly,  Gehry’s famous style of deconstructivism reigns strong, with curved forms and organic distorted facades, but there has been some criticism accusing the designs for being too ‘flamboyant’ and ‘fatally compromising the landmark status of the power station.’ Also, none of Gehry’s flats will be affordable social housing due to an agreement between Wandsworth council and the developers which caps affordable housing at 15%. But as Gehry argues: ‘I can’t demand there will be social housing in the middle of this project. This will be a real people thing for the city. I can’t tell London what to do.

#systems #design #algorithms #Superflux

 Alexis Lloyd, Creative Director of R&D at the New York Times, wrote an interesting guest blog for Superflux’s website about our relationship with technology and information. The article focuses on algorithmic systems and how we gradually start to prevail to some of them. Alexis main argument is that more systems should be explicitly showing the assumptions on which they are running, especially if they rely on behavioural data(increasing credibility and transparency). She advocates that the systems we create should contain affordances for all kind of skilled techniques that can become embedded into processes and cultures, meaning that designing interactions should allow us to ‘converse across complex networks, where we can understand and engage in informed and thoughtful ways, where the systems around us can respond with equal nuance’.  Interesting read.

Recent reports & publications:

  • Digital Life 2025March 2014, Pew Research Center
    (highlights: insights from interviews with over 2500 technology experts, 15 theses about ‘the future of digital life’, a LOT of great opinions and quotes)
  •  Good Incubation – April 2014, Nesta
    (highlights: different models of social venture incubation, success factors, case studies from around the world)

Spirit of times:
Gravity (RCA students – video)
A group of students from the Royal College of Art have invented avirtual reality tool that allows designers to sketch in three dimensions. It consists of a stylus and a tablet that have been adapted specifically for sketching in 3D. The tools can link to almost any augmented reality headset and the team have also connected it to an Oculus Rift. “Gravity was developed specifically for creative. We designed it to be simple enough so it could be used by everybody without prior explanation. It makes creating shapes as easy as doodling on a piece of paper.” The designers believe the technology could be applied to a multitude of fields, from animation to medical science.