By allowing them to connect physical objects, the internet has launched a new revolution that could change the face of cities. And Montreal must do everything to not put a spoke in the wheels of those who try to enjoy it.
This was the message launched Thursday in Montreal Carlo Ratti, director of Senseable City Lab at MIT and one of the “50 people who will change the world,” according to Wired magazine.
INTERNET OF THINGS
Cars thermostats via televisions and buses while now connects to the Internet. Experts announce that this “Internet of Things’, connecting the virtual to the real, is bringing about a new revolution. According Carlo Ratti, as many as 50 billion devices and machines of all kinds will be connected by 2020, generating every second an amazing flow of information.
Mr. Ratti is concerned that this information may be on cities. An example: analyzing GPS data describing all taxi trips made in New York for a year, he deduced that a good carpool system could carry all New Yorkers with 40% fewer cars and roads that today.
“We can now describe cities as living organisms,” said he said Thursday at a conference organized by the cluster Techno Montreal, by showing animations we can see these “bodies” evolve in real time thanks to new information they generate.
His cell phone rang constantly. People wanted to talk to him about their project. Others take a picture or leave a business card. Carlo Ratti has struggled to get out of the conference room at the Mount Royal Centre, Thursday. Both architect, engineer, designer and inventor, this Italian directs the Senseable City Lab at MIT in Boston, one of the most prominent research centers on new technologies. In 2012, Wired magazine named him among the 50 people who will change the world in which we live.
TALK TO THE DATA
The specialty of Mr. Ratti and his team do the talking the huge amount of information generated by people and devices on the planet, and which often accumulate without our knowledge. Here are some examples.
By analyzing the color of the pictures posted by Internet users on social networks, Mr. Ratti showed that we can measure the level of drought in Spain. “It’s as if we appropriated millions of people’s eyes,” he said.
By measuring the length of messages left on Twitter by spectators during a golf tournament, we can deduce the level of excitement that reigns there. More tweets are short, the more of the action.
By equipping researchers miniature pollution sensors and sending them to walk in Hong Kong and Shenzhen Senseable Lab turned them into “human sensors” capable of measuring the real exposure to pollutants citizens in their daily movements.
ADVICE FOR MONTREAL
How Montreal, which says it wants to become a “smart city”, can he take advantage of the Internet of Things? The first tip of Mr. Ratti municipal authorities is simple: accumulate and make available the most possible data.
“Then you have to let people develop new applications and let the experiment,” said Mr. Ratti in La Presse on the sidelines of the conference.
He gives the example of Uber, a service which, he said, should not be hindered. “The role of politicians is to allow this kind of service, and to manage the transition,” he believes.