Photo by Nick Brandt.
Urban development, as everything in nature, follows certain rules. It is a question of time that science will find more laws about cities.
In the Universe there are humans, and in those humans there is a brain. And those countless human brains have invented many things along history. Amongst those things, striking indeed for its durability and success, are cities. It is no wonder that humans have always looked both to the deep outside and to the deep inside with awe, applying huge scientific and intelectual efforts to the formidable task of unveiling the misteries of the Universe and the brain. Now, long after the blooming of physics, astronomy, neuroscience or psychology, and influenced by the rapid urbanization of our planet, the eyes of science are starting to look around us: they are laid on cities.
It is fascinating how some of the laws about cities presented here come from fields as distant as physics, information theory or antropology, and how they can also be formulated to rule how cities are shaped, their interactions or their evolution. Give credit to a prominent city scientist like Michael Batty for collecting some of these laws, many of which the reader will reckon that respond to patterns that we observe in our daily errands or that just backup plain common sense. Continue reading
On Jan, 29th 2015 we spoke at the “Smart energy UK & Europe Summit” in London, where we had the chance to discuss and develop the idea of advancing towards a “data sharing economy” at the urban ecosystem. What we were presenting, basically, is how a new kind of organizational relationship between urban players could eventually lead both to the creation of new social, scientific and economic value at the local scale, and to the development of new business prospects in those industries willing to play the game.
Cities have faced challenges in history with innovative ways of transforming the materials at their reach into innovative solutions. Whether we are talking about limestone, wood, brass, concrete, copper, or electrons, engineers have effectively used technology to provide security, access to drinkable water, sanitation, wired communications, or energy to households and people. Today, data is the new material upon which we can continue to develop innovative solutions to deal with the “bugs” or impracticalities (in Jane Jacobs’ words) of urban life. Continue reading
On 19th, November 2015, we spoke at the Smart City Expo in Barcelona about the slippery subject of applying KPIs to measure urban innovation.
Somebody said: “What can’t be measured, probably does not exist”. He or she was probably an engineer, like most of our audience. But take for instance love and wrath, hunger or joy, selfishness or cooperation. Those concepts do exist, are as real as us, humans, and they will probably escape from the engineers’ measurement capabilities still for a long time. Continue reading
On 28th, October 2015 we were honored to lecture at the opening session of 2015-2016 edition of the Master of City Sciences at Politechnic University of Madrid, sharing our latest thoughts and experiencies on urban innovation with students and staff.
Everything starts by Jaime Lerner’s statement about cities as the great solution, fostering progress in the fields of economics, sustainability, quality of life, and innovation.
The desire to climb up the prosperity ladder has been the main driving force that keeps attracting people to cities. That only means that cities have always been perceived as extremely ‘valuable’ by people. Now… can we aspire to quantify the value of cities? In the lecture, we presented several works by prominent city scientists, as well as subsequent laws that cast some light into this question, and then move to another important subject: how can we reconfigure cities to maximize that value? Continue reading
Viene de: “Una de plataformas SMART (1/2)”
Un menú variado de plataformas Smart
Detrás de cada plataforma Smart hay, como poco, una gran empresa tecnológica. Algunas de ellas han sido impulsadas desde el ámbito público, bien sea a través de mecanismos de financiación europeos o bien como apuesta específica. Otras son el resultado del esfuerzo de grandes compañías en el desarrollo de sistemas inteligentes de gestión de operaciones. Entre las primeras podemos destacar FIWARE, Sofia y CityOS. Entre las segundas Wonderware-Schneider o Intelligent Operations Center-IBM.
Tanto FIWARE como Sofia han sido financiados por la Unión Europea. FIWARE a través del proyecto “Future Internet PPP” del pasado 7FP en el que TELEFÓNICA tuvo un papel preponderante. Sofia a partir de un ARTEMIS en el que participaron INDRA y ACCIONA. A día de hoy, Valencia es el escaparate de FIWARE, La Coruña el de Sofia y Zaragoza el de Wonderware. Continue reading
‘Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science’
Edwin P. Hubble
Cities are one of the most complex ecosystems in nature, one of the closest to us, humans, and one of the least understood. The different urban disciplines (architecture, urban planning, social sciences, traffic engineering, telecommunications, urban economics…) have been traditionally devoted to study the city as a collection of either physical objects or human livings.
It was Jane Jacobs who first pointed out the misalignments derived from the ‘narrowness’ of these approach, providing a broader understanding of the relationships that govern the mutual feedback between humans and objects in cities. A public space entomologist like Jan Gehl followed and performed sound observations about interactions between people and ‘physicalities in cities’. Gehl’s empirical discovery ‘first life, then spaces, then buildings’ anticipates the thought that places are a result of interactions, and not the opposite. Manuel Castells introduced the concept of flows as a governing phenomena to study thoroughly for a better understanding of cities. His influential socio-economic perspective of the city-verse as a ‘space of flows’ is at the basis of the new science of cities that contemporary pioneers like the geographer Michael Batty is trying to build. Continue reading
In an era of increasing urban concentration, the multiple risks that our society faces at the environmental, social or economic spheres can be better addressed by adopting innovative and well-informed urban policies. Those policies can not ignore the potential offered by the set of processes and technologies grouped under the generic ‘big data’ buzz-word.
If we take an historical angle, after the ‘big bang’ explosion of data, the new ‘dataverse’ is experiencing a quick inflationary phase. An inflationary expansion that is everything but homogeneous. Clearly, Internet businesses are leading the way fueled, first, by the inherent use of big data related technologies, some of which are even powering the development of the general concept of big data itself, and, second, by the highly competitive and innovative markets in which those companies operate.
However, the use of big data that those Internet giants make is only serving the purposes of their internal business development. In some cases, those companies are disrupting local economies in areas such as transportation or accommodation while bypassing local regulations. Über is a good example of a new paradox. The serious blow that they afflict to the community of local cab drivers not only affects self-employment in the city but also leads to a reduction in the overall local tax collection. To aggravate the bleeding, their systems may very well use, for instance, the data about road outages that the city hall releases in open data formats for routing optimization purposes, while the company locks the vast amount of valuable information gathered through their daily trips around the city. Continue reading