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Museum of Childhood, un espacio para los niños en pleno Londres | eu:KIDS

Category: ⚐ ES+art+city+creativity+design+eu:kids

Museum of Childhood, London, UK

Museum of Childhood, London, UK

A pocos pasos de la estación de metro de Bethnal Green está la primera sede del Victoria & Albert Museum que hoy alberga el mismo museo dedicado a la infancia: ¡el Museum of Childhood!

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Guidelines to build participatory and inclusive societies

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+art+city+creativity+placemaking+research+sustainability

portada_654x254

In order to achieve the Post-Master called Urban Research Lab Sardinia – Environmental Design at the Università di Sassari (DAP), in partnership with the Dessau Institute of Architecture (DIA) of Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, an article will be published about the project made during the italian period, under the supervision of Ecosistema Urbano: Punto d’incontro.

This is an excerpt of the introduction, including some references and case studies.

The role of the architect

The role of the architect has always been, throughout ancient and modern history, a reference point for the city growth and development. Nowadays, this figure is undergoing a massive transformation, which cannot ignore social aspects. The modern architect helps to integrate production processes within the spaces users live and use in everyday life.

The article aims to present an experiment that was personally led in a very specific local community in Sardinia (Italy) which is affected by logistic, economical and management problems. Through theoretical studies and personal analysis of a variety of existing projects, a detailed process was drafted in order to suggest a strategic action plan.

Western society has scarce resources and the European architect often asks the following question, what can I do now without nothing? In this hard times, it is far more difficult for closed solution to be imposed by a power minority than for specific temporary actions to be applied based on grassroots talks, because sensitivity is high and social groups are highly resistant to accepting any changes which have not come from within their ranks. Ecosistema Urbano (2011). “Negotiating at all level”. A + T 38. 120

fountainhead_654

Strategy & Tactics

The first input to the change came with the drafting of Agenda 21, a voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. It emphasises that broad public participation in decision making is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving sustainable development. The main goal is trying to involve the local communities in the construction process of the future of the cities. When public space is concerned, there are two ways to run over: strategy and tactics. Both are tools of equal value, but with different typology of method; they are usually known as top-down or bottom-up processes.

Tactics are actions which take place on enemy territory while strategy is always enacted on home ground. Which can lead to an immediate run-of-the-mill sharing out of roles: strategy is an instrument of power, tactics are used by citizens; strategy occupies space, tactics play out in time; strategy is used to control, tactics to protest. De Certeau, M.(1988). The Practice of Everyday Life. University of California Press

Recent developments of these concepts became well known under different name, but in essence they are all the same.

Tactical urbanism. It is defined as small-scale improvements in an effort to effect large-scale, long-term change.
Placemaking. It is the act of enlivening public spaces and places for the betterment of the community and its neighbors.
Participatory design. It is an approach to the assessment, design, and development of technological and organizational systems that places a premium on the active involvement of workplace practitioners (usually potential or current users of the system).

The following scheme represents the stages of the experiment:
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The Iberian trip

There was the necessity to analyze the theory, exploring some case studies and finding some references. This processes are already very disseminated all over the world, especially in USA and north Europe, where the citizens have a great sense of community and cooperation.

Nevertheless this research focused on the Mediterranean area, in this particular case in the Iberian peninsula, where the lack of organization meets high quality and creativity, typical of the Latin culture. Some of the cases shown here are real established structures, others are spaces under construction and constantly changing. The connecting link is always one of active participation.
iberian trip_654

LXFACTORY – Lisbon

An urban fragment, kept hidden for years, is now returned to the city in the form of LXFactory. A creative island occupied by corporations and professionals of the industry serves also has stage for a diverse set of happenings related to fashion, publicity, communication, fine arts, architecture, music, etc.

lx_factory

El campo de cebada – Madrid

A group of neighbours called Distrito Centro promoted a temporary use of the vacant lof of a former public pool demolished in a district of Madrid, during the time in which the work planned for urban reuse was not to be carried out. The intention is that the space will accommodate all types of proposals/activities/projects (cultural, social, artistic, sport) for the use and enjoyment of the people of the district and all the city.

cebada

Matadero – Madrid

The old slaughterhouse and livestock market, where Matadero Madrid is now located, was built according with the project of the architect Luis Bellido. The site was architecturally transformed.
Matadero Madrid’s mission is to promote creation in all its forms and expressions. With special attention to cross-sectorial propositions, it focuses on three main action areas: training, production and dissemination.

matadero

Fabra i Coats Creation Factory – Barcelona

Fabra i Coats is a multidisciplinary space which will be promoting artistic hybridisation to become a point of reference in artistic research and in the generation of new quality contents, as well as a meeting point for groups, creators and proposals from different spheres and backgrounds.
The goal is to give support to artistic creation and it has workspaces for the performing arts, music, plastic and visual arts, multimedia creation and also for projects related to information and communication technology.

fabra i coats

Sometimes these kind of actions are not supported by a physical space, but by the people that build their spaces through some collective iniziatives, occasionally supported by a politician organization or made by self-funded artistic groups.

Urbact

It is a European exchange and learning programme promoting sustainable urban development. They enable cities to work together to develop solutions to major urban challenges, reaffirming the key role they play in facing increasingly complex societal changes. URBACT spans over 500 cities, 29 countries and 7,000 active participants.

urbact

Collectif ETC

Born in Strasbourg in 2009, this collective gathered energy around a common dynamic questioning of urban space. Through different means and different skills it wants to be a medium for experimentation. They believe that the different users of the city (residents and professionals) can all be involved in its development to a wide range of scales. The purpose and importance of these urban experiments is not only the result but also the process that generates it, as well as the new environment and new behavior it generates.

colletif etc

Boa Mistura

It is an urban art group formed at the end of 2001 in Madrid, Spain. Its members have diversity of perspectives, distinct visions which complement each other, and combine to create something unique and coherent.

boa mistura

Madrid Street Art Project

It is a noprofit association that through the organization of various activities and initiatives (urban Safaris, workshops, lectures, recovery rooms) aims to contribute to these reflections, to encourage citizens to enjoy urban art, contribute to its dissemination and support its creators.

madrid street art project

Conclusions

The final article will aim to give some semi-scientific guidelines to build participatory and inclusive societies. The new frontier of the architect should be to drive local communities in the management of public and private space, involving them in the construction process of the urban renewal. This is when the architect, as a highly knowledgeable technician, plays an essential role to mend the relation between politicians and common people.

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MetaMap | MapTube by CASA

Category: ⚐ EN+city+internet+MetaMap+technologies+the environment

MapTube Homepage

Today I present the interview with Richard Milton, member of the research staff at the (CASA), a unit at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment (The Bartlett).

CASA’s focus is to be at the forefront of what is one of the grand challenges of 21st Century science: to build a science of cities from a multidisciplinary base, drawing on cutting edge methods, and ideas in modeling, complexity, visualization and computation. Our current mix of architects, geographers, mathematicians, physicists, archeologists and computer scientists make CASA a unique department within UCL.

His current position in the centre is described as the following:

Richard is a Senior Research Associate currently working on the ESRC funded TALISMAN project, having previously worked on GeoVUE and GENeSIS. He is the key developer in these projects, being responsible for the e-infrastructure developed in GENeSIS and GeoVUE, which is currently used for real-time web-based geospatial data visualization. This infrastructure is currently used in the MapTube, SurveyMapper and Gemma websites.

MapTube is a free web resource for viewing, sharing, mixing and mashing maps online. The main principle of MapTube is that shared maps can be overlayed to compare data visually. For example, you can view a map of the London Underground overlayed with a map of building volumes to get a new perspective of the city.

Overlay of London tube map and London building volumes

1. How did you get to the practice of mapping?

I originally got into mapping by working on weather visualization systems for the UK Meteorological Office. After that, I worked on a project in UCL on GPS-tracked carbon monoxide sensors, displaying the data through both 2D and 3D views of the city. Then, I started working for CASA, developing the GMapCreator software, allowing people to create Google Maps from the data stored in shapefiles, which led to the MapTube website.

2. In what way do you obtain and treat the data for your mapping?

I often have to do a lot of pre-processing of the data before it can be mapped, but on an ad-hoc basis. The real-time data is also quite challenging as there are often errors in the data that have to be cleaned and the pre-processing for the London Underground, National Rail, and Bus data are quite involved. The data is sampled on a 3 minute basis, so all processing needs to happen very quickly.

Global McDonald’s Big mac prices, 2007

3. What is the application of the open source mapping you are interested in the most?

I think the amount of data that’s now in the public domain is the greatest interest. We are getting to the point where we are being swamped with data and need to look for methods to handle much larger quantities than before.

4. What is the next phase of development your research is undergoing?

The next phase of development is very hard to quantify. We’re looking into various things like BigData, Real-time data and DataMining.

5. What are you personal references about the theme of mapping (from ancient to contemporary ones)?

My interests are really in automatic mapping, from data and how you handle it from multiple sources (data fusion) to visualizing complex situations.

England grade of land use

This is the last post (for now!) in our MetaMap series about mapping. You can follow the conversation in your favourite social network through the #metamap hashtag.

 

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MetaMap | Pablo de Soto

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+city+landscape+MetaMap+technologies+urbanism+video

Pablo de Soto is part of the generation who lived and experimented with the creative explosion generated by the web. His studies in architecture have enabled him to look at digital culture through a unique perspective. Keeping as reference, science fiction, situationism, and hacker ethic.

In 2001, he founded hackitectura.net, along with José Pérez de Lama and Sergio Moreno Páez, and a crew of architects, programmers, artists, and activists that participated in projects that dealt with themes of cartography and mapping. I interviewed Pablo de Soto about Sevilla Global, Cartografía Crítica del Estrecho de Gibraltar, and Mapping the Commons (Istanbul and Athens)

Here are a few screenshots of the maps:

Taksim Square, Istanbul

Fener Balat, Istanbul

Brook Crossing, Athens

This post is part of the MetaMap series about mapping. You can follow the conversation on your favourite social network through the #metamap hashtag.

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MetaMap | Interview with Christian Nold on his mapping projects

Category: ⚐ EN+art+city+creativity+landscape+MetaMap+technologies

Biomapping device and GPS

Today, I present the interview with Christian Nold where he shares his experience with mapping projects such as Bio MappingGreenwich Emotion Map, and SanFrancisco. He describes himself with the following:

Christian Nold is an artist, designer, and educator working to develop new participatory models for communal representation. In 2001, he wrote the well received book ‘Mobile Vulgus’, which examined the history of the political crowd and which set the tone for his research into participatory mapping. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2004, Christian has led a number of large scale participatory projects and worked with teams on diverse academic research projects. In particular, his ‘Bio Mapping’ project has received large amounts of international publicity and has been staged in 16 different countries and over 1500 people have taken part in his workshops and exhibitions.
In 2007, Christian Nold founded Softhook Design, which is now providing large scale public discussion projects, such as the TownToolkit. Christian Nold teaches at the Bartlett University, College of London and is a guest lecturer at Aalborg University of Denmark and an active member of the Council for the Internet of Things.

Galvanic Skin Response in a busy traffic crossing

1. How did you get to the practice of mapping? 

Mapping for me is a way to understand shared places. I entered this area through psychogeography and the idea that there might be shared psychological and unseen, but political structures that underlie the physical environment around us. Mapping then becomes a way of trying to record this kind of exploration. The shared mental and physical spaces, which are shaped into the form of a map, are such a familiar way of recording spaces that we can all access.

2. In what way do you obtain and treat the data for your mapping?

I utilize different types of mapping in my work, but my main interest is trying to articulate the blend of space between mind and material. The sources of my data tend to be ambiguous, such as physiological arousal, smells, sounds, feelings of being in or out of control, or illicit behavior.  My real interest is trying to map things that are difficult to map, or for political reasons, are not being mapped at all.

3. What is the application of open source mapping you are interested in the most?

What interests me about open source mapping is the way it provides agency for people to redefine how things are done.  The openness allows people to redefine mapping in terms of what is being mapped, as well as how to do the mapping.

Greenwich emotion map

4. What is the next phase of development your research is undergoing?

I’m currently researching whether mapping is a device ethnography at the Extreme Citizen Science Group at UCL.  This means I’m trying to trace networks of knowledge and power being generated by sensing devices and trying to map and articulate what is going on there. The final results will not be maps, but will utilize the methodology and thinking of mapping to uncover the relationships between entities, which I think is the core of what mapping is truly about.

5. What are you personal references for the theme of mapping (from ancient to contemporary ones)?

 I love some of the pre-modern maps that blend stories and myths, as well as local plants, flowers, and animals that simultaneously describe the physical environment.  Many of those maps show a freedom of blending together and crossing between categories that you don’t see any more in modern maps. Nowadays, maps seem to focus more on what they exclude rather than focusing on what they represent.

San Francisco emotion map

You can see related posts in the metamap series.

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MetaMap | 6000 km by Basurama, interview with Pablo Rey

Category: ⚐ EN+city+internet+Intervista+landscape+MetaMap+urbanism

Basurama is a forum for discussion and reflection on trash, waste, and reuse in all its formats and possible meanings. It was born in the Madrid School of Architecture (ETSAM) in 2001, and since then, has evolved and acquired new shapes.

Tire Cemetery in Seseña (Toledo)

I interviewed Pablo Rey Mazón, member of Basurama, about 6000km, a project about the concept of trash applied to new constructions and land use, the metabolism of the city.

 

1. How did you get to the practice of mapping? What led you to the practice of mapping?

We use mapping, a geo-spatial representation of things, to understand and display complex situations. Maps have always been interesting to me: subway maps, the Callejero (the streetmap book from Madrid), and later in architecture school, I was using and producing maps quite often. Google Maps and Google Earth came later…. maps are one special part of all the data visualizations tools available.
I have also participated in the development of meipi.org, an open source software for collective geo-location of information (texts, photos, videos, and audio) online, that we have used in many projects.

Interface of the map - Click to see original at Meipi

Interface of the map – Click to see original at Meipi

2. How did you choose the object of your mapping?

A map is a tool to decode certain information. Depending on the project, we would use one visualization or another. When we’re interested in the location of things, we use maps. In Basurama, we’ve used maps for many different projects apart from 6000km:

-Mapping urban metabolism landscapes (panorama photos) + real estate bubble: map, tactics in 6000km

-Mapping reusable waste in Ruhr (Germany) map 1map 2how to

Flow of waste in Mexico City

Exchange of objects map

In Ruhr, we used geo-located photos that we took, and a special instance of Meipi, to show the location of possible reusable waste. In spermola.org, we tried to give the opportunity to exchange an object by providing information about where the object was.

6000km started as an exhibition of 10 big format panorama photos from the Madrid outskirts: landfills, highways, scrapyards, and abandoned places. The project was part of the exhibition and was named Basurama Panorámica. It shows the public different places to envision the consequences of the urban expansion that was occurring at the time. Each photo had a short text attached to it, that served to contextualize and give basic information about it. We didn’t just want ‘awesome’ photos, we wanted to make people understand where and what those locations were. The exhibition had two related maps: urban growth and highways, apart from a location map of all the photographs. Displaying urban developments together with landfills and empty toll highways was the way to show the relation among all the urban metabolism related situations. Empty buildings made for speculation purposes where as waste made for scrapyards. That was 2006, 2 years before Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy.

Later on, when we addressed this project in a country scale we studied and mapped all the situations in 6000km.org. “6.000 km” were the kilometers of highway that the government was planning to build until 2020.

Mar Menor Golf Resort – Torre Pacheco, Murcia

3. In which way do you want this work to affect the people and society?

It is difficult to say how a particular project modifies the perception of a situation. In 2006 the real estate bubble was about to burst, but the public perception was saying “prices are never going to drop”, “we are the biggest growing economy in the world”, “keep building, buying, and selling, make money”. Mass media and politicians were basically denying the real estate bubble or saying that the process of land destruction was not sustainable. It was uncommon to address this topic. Nowadays, we can watch and read multiple news, documentaries, and exhibitions about a contemporary ruin or the economic crisis, but that was not the case back in 2006. It is impossible to measure that impact.

However, we were not alone in this task. There were other people talking about these issues as well. An example, El tsunami urbanizador español y mundial from the late Ramón Fernández Durán, or Ramón López de Lucio, that used our exhibition, among other things, to talk about the urban expansion and the backdrops of the star system architecture.  A year later, the Observatorio Metropolitano published a complete study of Madrid that delved deeply in the economical, social, and urban aspect of the situation. Madrid ¿La suma de todos? Globalización, territorio, desigualdad, and Derivart published casastristes.org.

Junkyard Hermanos Lopez – Parla, Madrid

4. Which is the next phase of growth/development your research is undergoing?

We went from the regional scale, Madrid conurbation, to a country scale, Spain, in 6.000km. We created an online map at meipi.org/6000km to display how our research evolved and to open both the information and participation to the public. We went to many of those places to document the sites. We have a full list available of all the studied locations, as we have realized before in Meipi, that maps are not the only way to show spatial information, and that lists can also be very useful.
Global scale: Since we’ve been travelling often to America with Basurama in the last years, we are now exploring ways to talk about these situations on a global scale in PAN AM, Panorama Americana.

Ruins in Vallecas, Madrid  - Click to view original map

Ruins in Vallecas, Madrid – Click to view original map

Photos from the sky: We are also exploring new ways of exploring the territory with cheap balloon mapping technology. Our first results from Spain could be seen in the ruins at PAU del ensanche de Vallecas. Since last year we’ve been collaborating with the Public Laboratory in Boston, where we are mapping the evolution of an ash landfill in the suburbs of the city, Incinerator Landfill in Saugus, MA, USA, as well as mapping the waste locations from Cambridge, MA.
Civic maps: I am involved in a tool kit about civic mapping that will be released this year by the Center for Civic Media.

Alto del Cuco – Pielagos, Cantabria

5. What are your personal references for the theme of mapping (from ancient to contemporary ones)?

References come from many places: data visualization researchers like Edward Tufte; open hardware and cheap tools by Public Laboratory; Ushahidi and Crowdmap for collective info about maps; vojo.co for collective reporting from cheap phones; and online cartography tools like OpenStreetMap, where we are contributors and try to draw landfills and other non represented places in the map.

All the photos of the article are under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License and are made by Rubén Lorenzo Montero and Pablo Rey Mazón (Basurama). See legal notice.

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MetaMap | [im]possible living, rethinking the abandoned world

Category: ⚐ EN+city+internet+Intervista+MetaMap+technologies+urbanism

[im]possible living is a crowd-sourcing website dedicated to mapping and reactivating abandoned buildings around the world.

[im]possible living wants to be an enabler and a catalyst of the energies available in every place in the world that are not able to get through and give birth due to the abandonment market and, in general, to a new housing development model. It’s a very ambitious goal, but we truly believe in it and are investing everything in this dream!

I interviewed the two founders, Daniela Galvani and Andrea Sesta, about the project.

[im]possible living

1. How did you get to the practice of mapping? 

[im]possible living is born from our personal interest in abandoned buildings. At the time we understood that many individuals and associations were spreading energies to map the abandoned buildings in their area, but everyone was doing their own maps, thus losing the possibility of sharing results, experiences, and the best possible practices.

So we decided to create a global map of abandoned buildings via a web platform, where everyone could participate and contribute to a common goal and benefit from the experiences of other people.
Since the beginning of the project we have gone far beyond mapping tools. With the last release of our site, people can now reactivate an abandoned building and involve the community in the design concept for the new life of the building.

2. How is the users’ contribution managed? How does the platform work?

The website consists of a service through which users can surf and see the abandoned buildings that have been mapped around the world, which also shows their profile, containing a general description and some detailed information about the building (year of construction, years of abandonment, square meters, number of floors, etc.) To explore the mapped buildings click here.

The real heart of the service, however, is the reporting and collaboration features, through which users can upload new abandoned buildings and enrich existing records by adding photos and videos. If you would like to begin a map click here.

Users can also use a mobile app for the iPhone to instantly map abandoned buildings. Once launched, the application allows you to choose a photo from the Pictures archive, add essential information and automatically provide the geographic data associated with the location (street, city, etc.), allowing the user to change any incorrect information.

The last new part, which has launched recently, allows users to start a reactivation process. Once an abandoned building is mapped, a user can decide to become the reactivator of the place and [im]possible living provides him/her with a suit of services that helps collect the needs of the area, ideas for the future of the building, and in general, create a community that supports the reactivator in designing a concept for the new life of the building. The platform also tries to connect different kinds of users, everyone possibly involved in the renovation process: citizens, entrepreneurs, professionals, artists, real estate developers, etc.

[im]possible living map

[im]possible living map

These services are now online and we already have some projects running that you can contribute to or simply surf to get an idea:

Padiglione Conolly by RETESPAZZI
Sottopassaggio pedonale di Porta Vescovo by AGILE
Edificio 3 by workinco
Residenza by LANGYX
Villa Olga by BIELLAINMENTE
Ex Casa albergo per anziani by SIMONACOLUCCI
Ex-macello comunale by ASSBUENAONDA
Ex-Ospedale San Giacomo by ASSBUENAONDA
Masseria O’ Sentino by INDIEVIDUI
Stabile di uffici abbandonato by DANYGALVANI
Palazzo Cosentini by CARLONATOLI

3. What is the process you wanted to start with your work? What is the social aim you wanted to reach with your work?

In the last years we have witnessed the constant investment in new construction, leaving behind millions of old abandoned buildings. This process has led to the phenomenon of land consumption in most of the world, but the recent economic crisis stressed the problem even more, condemning the new constructions to remain vacant.

The solution to this problem is taking an altogether new approach: abandoned buildings are not liabilities but assets from which we should take the most possible advantage. [im]possible living tries to promote this new sustainability approach. Instead of building new structures over and over again, we can utilize what already exists. Having abandoned buildings in your city or in your neighborhoods is not only a waste, but it also means trouble, that, in a long term perspective, becomes costly for the public sector.

We are creating a platform available to all, which consists of the most complete database of abandoned buildings in the world. It is a virtual place that everyone can use and all can be shared and discussed, and where citizens can actually have an influence in shaping the future of the place they live in.

Many times the interests of construction companies, or even publicadministrations, are not consistent with the local environment of the area itself. This missing link between those sides can be discussed through the [im]possible living platform, in order to build mutual benefits for both sides. Through the website, entire communities can share their needs and ideas, and this could lead to a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Nowadays, real estate projects are handled behind closed doors and the problem is that often the local population is not involved in the design process. This implies, on the one hand, a mismatch between the purpose of the construction project and the real needs of the urban and social settlement. On the other hand, it takes additional time to complete due to the resistance from local communities, which often brings in legal involvement.

Our aim is to create a more efficient process to reuse abandoned structures, with a benefit for local communities that will be able to affect or even contribute projects on the online platform. A benefit for the public and private investors that would receive important inputs or even entire concepts developed by teams of reactivators and a benefit for the reactivator teams that would pursue their own projects with all the technological, professional, and financial support to fully accomplish their goal.

4. What is the next phase of development that your research will undergo?

We released the reactivation services a few months ago, so now our aim is to expand the community as much as possible and start as many reactivation projects as possible. This is very connected to making the available services better, making the actions easier, making the contributions from the community as simple as possible, and adding new features that can increase the sharing activity on the site.

Furthermore, we want to investigate the real bottleneck of reactivation processes: getting the project funded! In fact, the real problem when you talk about abandoned buildings is that, even with low-cost interventions, using them involves pricey investments. So our question is: How do we ease the investment process? How can we push for better projects and actually bring them to life? It’s complicated research, but it’s definitely what we want to focus on during the next year.

5. What are you personal references for the theme of mapping (from ancient to contemporary ones)?

Our point of view is very connected to recent technologies, in particular, web technologies. We consider the birth of web 2.0 and web 3.0 the beginning of a new era: the shift from static contents to dynamic ones, but more importantly, the participation and involvement of people in crowd projects, tools created for geo-localization, augmented reality, and much more.

This had a dramatic impact on the theme of mapping: for the first time in history, people from around the world could contribute to global mapping projects seamlessly, using services like Google Maps, Open Street Map, Wikimapia, History Pin, Ushaidi, Foursquare, and thousands of other services that are enabling users to map things in the world and share the information globally.

This process is generating a huge amount of data that, in most cases, is openly available to everyone via API systems (in computer science, an API is a way to access private databases, retrieve information, and build a new service using one or many different external data sources) For example, today I can use Google Maps API to obtain geographical information and then use Wikipedia to map monuments and historical places.

The potential of this revolution is very immense and has already started to affect our society in a significant way, but we still can’t entirely understand all the possibilities that will be generated in the upcoming decades.

Site: [im]possibleliving
If you would like to know more, visit their BlogFacebook and Twitter, or read their FAQ

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MetaMap | MyBlockNYC, interview with Alex Kalman

Category: ⚐ EN+city+Intervista+MetaMap+video

Today we present a New York based video mapping project, MyBlockNYC. They define their project as:

MyBlockNYC.com is an interactive video mapping website that captures and presents personal video accounts of life and culture in New York City in order to create an intimate, evolving, and complete portrait of the great city. Users upload videos geographically, creating the first fully interactive video map of New York City.

The MyBlock Assignment is:

Share the moments you see on the wild streets of New York City. You can upload videos you already have on your cell phone and computer, or explore the city and capture what you see. Each video should be shot outdoors and take place on a single block.

I interviewed Alex Kalman, founder of the platform.

Here’s a few examples of videos on the platform:

The Holland Tunnel

Grandma Tracy breakdancing at Mad Decent block party

Jimmy Justice

This is the second post in the MetaMap series about mapping. You can follow the conversation on Twitter, Google+, Diaspora, or Facebook through the #metamap hashtag.

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MetaMap | Urban Sensing by Accurat

Category: ⚐ EN+city+internet+Intervista+MetaMap+technologies+urbanism

Accurat is an information design agency based in Milan and New York, founded by Giorgia Lupi, Simone Quadri and Gabriele Rossi in 2011.

They define their work as the following:

We envision and identify new ways to structure information, revealing and addressing latent needs, desires and opportunities. Basing our methods on the design thinking approach, we specialize in providing our clients with consultancies, services, and products related to information design. Focusing on how information is transforming networks, cultures, contexts, and behaviors is an attempt to understand the future, a demonstration that it can be intercepted and designed.

I interviewed them about Big Data base maps and about their ongoing work in mapping: Urban Sensing.

Experiment of Tweet mapping in Milan during design week

 

1. How did you get to the practice of mapping? 

To us, mapping could be seen in a broader context as “structuring information”.

To start off, it’s not needed to say that information related issues are at the core of any design project that deal with cities, public services, society, and behaviors regardless of scale. Particularly, we have always been interested in urban related projects that deeply rely on information: contexts, analyzing data, designing analytical tools, and visual narratives that provide awareness and comprehension of changing urban dynamics.

In our past entrepreneurial experiences, at Interactiondesign-Lab, we experimented working between the intersection of information systems and urban dynamics within the design of the Plan of Services for the Municipality of Milan (developed between 2009 and 2010). We designed a plan not to be intended as a product or document, since it was developed as a continuous process of listening, monitoring, reporting, and crossing the needs and the offers in terms of services of the city.

We designed 2 tools at 2 different scales, the macro scale of the city and the micro scale of the neighborhood. These tools don’t define what services we plan to have, but they give directions on how to cross the demand and the possible answer in terms of services in a meaningful way. It was, in fact, an information design project.

2. In what way do you obtain and treat the data for your mapping?

A big mapping project we are currently working on and coordinating at Accurat is ✳UrbanSensing.

The ✳UrbanSensing project is a EU funded project which aims to design and develop a platform for extracting patterns of use and citizens’ concerns with city spaces, through robust analysis of User Generated Content (UGC) shared by city users over social networks and digital media. The platform will allow the user to analyze citizen’s perceptions related to specific geographic areas and understand how population reacts to new urban policies within participatory mechanisms.

Novel digital and telecommunication technologies can be deployed to integrate data-sharing platforms within the spatial dynamics of the city. If properly analyzed, geo-tagged and User Generated Content (UGC) coming from Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, or Flickr can be useful in the creation of meaningful, real time indicators of people’s perceived and communicated urban experiences. Through natural language and network analysis, it is possible to identify the nested micro-narratives that shape the behavioral and semantic background of a place and to extract specific urban indicators.

Our assumption is that by conducting an analysis of datasets based on text extracted from UGC we can recognize multiple stories, as they emerge, overlap and influence each other, unfolding from city users’ mental representations and spatial experiences of city spaces. In fact, by providing tangible, visible references, the spaces of actual buildings and cities participate in constructing the meaning of the speech that articulates itself within them and as conversations unfold within particular architectural settings, they build up increasingly dense webs of shared understanding grounded -at least in part- on the points of reference that these settings afford.

Thus, within ✳UrbanSensing we are mainly gathering and analyzing geo-localized social media data (Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, and Flickr); and such data will be properly integrated and compared with more traditional sources of urban information (socio-demographic territorial data, real-estate indicators, and environmental data) to produce dynamic and evolving images of the city as used and perceived by its’ citizens and temporary users.

3. What is the application of open source/social network-based mapping you are interested in the most?

If properly analyzed, integrated, and interpreted, Social Media data can help stakeholders at the urban scale to “forward-looking” innovation strategies based on a thorough analysis of people’s contexts, interests, and needs.

Among the possible urban topics this data could partially answer to, we will narrow them to the following particular issues:

  • Rapidly intercepting emerging urban dynamics, such as gentrification processes and precise areas’ evolution through time (for identifying trends in areas’ related phenomena, in the exact moments they’re originated, with the possibility to add more dynamic parameters to those used by the real estate market);
  • Understanding which are the factors (e.g. morphological aspect, aesthetic quality, public service availability and density, infrastructure granularity, cultural scene, and commercial service) that attract people in particular places (areas, neighborhoods), and how this evolves through time;
  • Understanding which kind of people (language / on-line influence / demographics) are in specific areas at particular moments;
  • Highlighting patterns of movement throughout  the city (from which places people in an area come from? where are they going? are they residents, visitors, or ordinary city users?);
  • Interrogating data about a particular topic (e.g. brand name, event name) or about a selected theme (e.g. cultural phenomena, cutting-edge topics) to see how things evolve spatially and temporarily.

All this, to provide a better understanding of an areas’ related phenomena and evolution, to redefine actual districts’ fixed boundaries and to see where public services, policy’s infrastructures, design interventions, or activities could be better located, and to try and build models to predict near-future evolution;

Experiment of Tweet mapping in New York

 

4. What is the next phase of development that your research is undergoing?

One of the forthcoming steps of our project is to gain a deeper understanding of:

  • How such data sources could be interpreted (in terms of sharing behaviors and motivations) to get actual and consistent insights;
  • Which are the real limits of such data in terms of research (e.g. demographic, digital divide, economic, location-related);
  • How to overlap and integrate such data sources with more traditional layers of territorial information (e.g. socio-demographic data, income data, rental costs, ethnic data, and environmental ones such as pollution and sanitary inspections, etc.) to finally display extreme high-resolution views and interpretations of territorial related dynamics.
  • How unexpected patterns and meaningful questions could emerge from data themselves. 

In fact, UGC differs from conventionally produced geographic information in several aspects. The source of the information, the technologies for acquiring it, the methods and techniques for working with it, and the social processes that mediate its creation and impact. Traditionally, geographic information has been produced by experts and institutions, therefore, certain types of information have been privileged and other types ignored, and even marginalized. UGC’s represent a powerful shift in sources, content, characteristics, modes of data production, mining, sharing, dissemination, and use. Therefore, a wide set of meaningful questions (that have been partly investigated for “conventional” geographical information) need now to be re-investigated, and a framework on how to use these information still has to be built.

In parallel, we are designing and developing the technological architecture and the actual interface allowing us (and lately, stakeholders) to perform specific queries and produce such dynamic maps in a very visual and intuitive way.

5.  What are you personal references for the theme of mapping (from ancient to contemporary ones)?

We would here focus on emerging critical practices that propose new models to describe the city that stresses the collaborative and constructionist dynamics of the mapping process.

The underlying idea of this approach considers the geographic, urban experience through a network of multiple fragmented temporary data and information generated by human-place interactions and collaborative dynamics. Based on these theoretical premises, several experimental GIS-based applications focusing on cartography emerging from users’ perceptions and activities have been produced.

As Zook & Graham noticed, traditional methods used to register users’ perceptions and activities about the cities and its fruition – like surveys and ethnographic reports – seem to be inadequate to meet the need of information of contemporary society both because they require a considerable amount of resources (in terms of time and money) and because they do not consider the temporal dimension.

Mapping projects based on UGC have been therefore conducted both by research institutions (e.g. CASA at University College London, SIDL Lab at Columbia University, Senseable City Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Urban Age at London School of Economics) and independent scholars and design firms (e.g. Christian Nold, Stamen Design) with the aim of creating new ways to observe and depict specific subjective and objective processes taking place in cities.

Senseable City Lab explored mapping systems based on UGC on several projects like World’s Eyes and Obama One People.

Current City, a European foundation committed to address long-standing city management problems in unconventional ways, explored the potential of urban mapping based on real-time data streams on users’ location coming from telco providers.

Christian Nold’s work focused on in-depth research of technological tools in order to unravel their social and political layers, and on building socially constructive, bottom-up devices, that take the form of practical tools such as in the Bio Mapping project.

Bio Mapping is a research project based on biometric sensors that can be worn by users provided with a GPS device able to trace their paths through the city, and that register specific parameters (e.g. emotional status in a specific place or situation) and publish them as user generated content on specific emotional maps. This project explores tools that allow people to selectively share and interpret their own bio data. Within this framework, Nold investigates how the perceptions of a community in an environment can change when they become aware of their own intimate emotional status.

Some other recent GIS projects focused on the idea of building open tool-kits that could be used by the community of students and practitioners of urban design, planning, and management. The Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL created MapTube as a free resource for viewing, sharing, mixing, and mashing maps online and the NeISS project (National e-Infrastructure for Social Simulation) provides a platform to meet the demand for powerful simulation tools by social scientists and public and private sector policymakers. The tools enable researchers to create workflows to run their own simulations, visualize and analyse results, and publish them for future discovery, sharing, and re-use. This facilitates development and sharing of social simulation resources within the urban planners and social science community, encourages cooperation between model developers and researchers, and helps foster adoption of simulation as a research method and as a decision support tool in the public and private sectors. Design Tool is an application proposed by Predrag Šiđani, which has its starting point in Lynch’s propositions about city and urban form. Lynch’s theory of urban form and its hierarchical structure of main urban elements were applied, together with his concept of cognitive mapping, to a conceptual model of the Design Tool.

This is the second post in the MetaMap series about mapping. You can follow the conversation on Twitter, Google+, Diaspora, or Facebook through the #metamap hashtag.

credits: Giorgia Lupi and Gabriele Rossi (accurat.it)
acknowledgements: texts above are part of the UrbanSensing project
Design Week Tweets: Accurat with Marco Vettorello (data gathering) and Paolo Patelli (data processing and visualization)
Thanksgiving: Accurat with Marco Vettorello (data gathering and processing)

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