Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


MIT Real Time Rome project to debut at Venice Biennale

Real Time Rome, a pioneering MIT project that promises to usher in a new era of urban mapmaking, will have its worldwide debut at the Venice Biennale, the prestigious biannual exhibition of contemporary art and design that runs from Sept. 10 to Nov. 20.

The MIT project utilizes data gathered, in real time and at an unprecedented scale, from cell phones and other wireless technologies, to better understand the patterns of daily life in Rome, and to illustrate what ubiquitous connectivity in an urban environment looks like.

"In today's world, wireless mobile communications devices are creating new dimensions of interconnectedness between people, places and urban infrastructures," said project director Carlo Ratti, director of the SENSEable City Lab at MIT. "The goal of Real Time Rome is to use this connectivity to map the city in real time, which may ultimately lead to a deeper understanding of how modern cities function."

Real Time Rome features seven large animations, projected on transparent plexiglass screens. One screen shows traffic congestion around the city, while another screen shows the exact movements of all the city's buses and taxis. Another screen is able to track Romans celebrating major events like the World Cup or the city's annual White Nights festival (Notte Bianca, which will happen on Sept. 9, the evening before the Biennale opening). Additional screens show how tourists use urban spaces and how cars and pedestrians move about the city.

Ratti believes these types of visualizations will help reduce the inefficiencies of present day urban systems and open the way to a more sustainable future: "Our hope is that projects like Real Time Rome will give city dwellers more control over their environment by allowing them to make more informed decisions about their surroundings. Imagine being able to avoid traffic congestion, or knowing where people are congregating on a Saturday afternoon. In a worst-case scenario, such real time systems could also make it easier to evacuate a city in case of emergency."

Ratti's team obtains its data anonymously from cell phones, GPS devices on buses and taxis, and other wireless mobile devices, using advanced algorithms developed by Telecom Italia, the principal sponsor of the project. These algorithms are able to discern the difference between, say, a mobile phone signal from a user who is stuck in traffic and one that is sitting in the pocket of a pedestrian wandering down the street. Data are made anonymous and aggregated from the beginning, so there are no implications for individual privacy.

"The exhibit will hopefully trigger many more urban studies that take advantage of the already existing data on mobile phones and transportation systems, in order to create a deeper understanding of how cities are being used," said project curator Andres Sevtsuk, a graduate student in urban studies and planning.

Ratti describes Real Time Rome as a new kind of mapmaking. Along with other powerful interactive maps, such as Google Earth, Real Time Rome is backed up by huge databases that will ultimately make it possible to conduct highly customized searches and view displays in real time.

"We are very excited to carry out our experiment in Rome, the city where Gianbattista Nolli refined modern cartography in 1748," Ratti said. "Maps of the future will be large databases that will enable us to extract fragments that suit our needs, much like we can do today on the web, and will also tap into the coming revolution in RFID (radio frequency identification) technology."

Real Time Rome is produced by MIT's SENSEable City Laboratory, an initiative that studies the impact of new technologies on cities.

Other MIT projects will also be on display at the Biennale, in the same location as Real Time Rome. They include including an interactive bus stop with wireless Internet; designs for digitally enhanced public spaces in the Milla Digital in Zaragoza, Spain; a smart car and public transportation system by the MIT Media Lab and Design Lab; and new computer interfaces by the Tangible Media Group at the Media Lab.

"All these projects from MIT deal with specific aspects of the urban environment and digital technology," said Sevtsuk. "Together they start to form a multifaceted picture of how real-time communications can change urban design."

Following the Venice Biennale, the SENSEable City Laboratory will launch the SENSEable City Consortium, a major research initiative aimed at bringing together city and public administrators, network operators, electronic hardware and software producers and urban hardware manufacturers in MIT's unique research environment.

The principal sponsor of Real Time Rome is Telecom Italia. Technical partners are the Rome public transportation authority (ATAC), Google, Samarcanda Taxi and the city of Rome.

The Real Time Rome team at the SENSEable City Lab is composed of Ratti, Sevtsuk, Burak Arikan, Francesco Calabrese, Assaf Biderman, Filippo Dal Fiore, Saba Ghole, Daniel Gutierrez, Sonya Huang, Sriram Krishnan, Justin Moe, Carlo Ratti, Francisca Rojas, and Najeeb Tarazi.

Patti Richards | MIT News Office
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Fraunhofer FIT joins Facebook's Telecom Infra Project
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions
21.10.2016 | Stanford University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>