In a quickly evolving technology industry, we were especially excited to hear about a fascinating project coming right to our own backyard. The Array of Things project recently announced plans to revolutionize how citizens live in, and interact with their cities. In partnership with the City of Chicago, the Array of Things team plans to install a network of interactive, modular sensor boxes that will collect real-time data throughout Chicago.
What Exactly Are Interactive, Modular Sensor Boxes and What Can They Do?
The Array of Things team explains that the first versions of these innovative boxes will be dedicated to collecting information on environmental factors like atmosphere and air quality. The sensors will also have the capability to collect and store information surrounding human activity, but only at a very general level. The sensors will collect data on noise level, surface temperature of sidewalks and roads and will also be able to detect the number of wireless networks in a given area. Without actually recording any personal information, the sensors will be able to extrapolate human traffic statistics.
How Does the Array of Things Team Hope to Use the Data?
Members from the Array of Things team explain that while in the beginning, data collection may be more rudimentary, they believe the sensors will continue to get more complex, allowing everyone accessing the data to use it in a more exiting way.
They state the following potential uses for data collected by the sensors:
- Healthy walking route suggestions. Researchers could use air quality, sound and vibration data so suggest the healthiest and unhealthiest walking times and routes in the city.
- Targeted winter salt application. The city may choose to use sidewalk and street temperature data to save money and prevent environmental damage by planning targeted salt application based on traffic.
- Block-by-block weather reports. Weather experts could use atmosphere data to provide real-time, micro-climate weather reports by neighborhood, or even by block.
- Safe and efficient route suggestions. Data surrounding human activity might be used to find the safest and most efficient routes in the city during different times of the day.
- Improved traffic light timing. The city could use vibration data and data surrounding human activity to improve traffic light timing and efficiency.
Not only is the Array of Things team predicting pretty unbelievable uses for projected data, they also believe that everyone should profit from the experiment. The data collected by the Array of Things project will be available to everyone including residents, software developers, scientists, policymakers and researchers to optimize the usage output. Data is expected to be published and updated multiple times per minute.
Wait, What About Personal Security?
The data will be available to everyone, meaning security will be an extremely high priority. Due to the nature of the project, the sensors are designed only to collect general information and will not be capable of extracting personal information from people or devices. The entire project including the software and hardware will be heavily regulated and reviewed regularly to make sure standards are met and kept.
The first 50 sensors are planned for installation during the Winter of 2014-2015, with an additional eight nodes planned for Spring 2015. Potential funding opportunities mean there could be at least 500 additional sensors installed between 2015 to 2017.
Learn more about the Array of Things project.
Image credit to Urban Center for Computation and Data.