Some urban computing projects

Last week I attended an interesting event organized by the foresight group of the Geneva State. The whole day was about the digital cities of tomorrow with an interesting set of speakers. I've been mostly interested in all the projects that speakers presented to describe either weak signals of urban computing or critical perspectives on that topic. Instead of putting on-line notes transcriptions, the list of projects is maybe more important to get a global picture of the discussion (mostly taken from Christophe Guignard and Bruno Marzloff's presentations).

Diurnisme (Philippe Rahm) is an environment that physiologically creates the conditions of night during the day. To some extent, it tryes to introduce the night during the day (Photo: Adam Rzepka, Centre Pompidou).

Jour noir (Philippe Rahm) is a negative urban standard lamp, producing the night during the day, physically. The lamp emits an invisible and cold electromagnetic radiation, like that emitted by the night sky (Photo: Philippe Rahm).

Real room ( is an experimental architectural project for the Nestlé World Headquarters in Vevey (Switzerland) that insert computer device in offices which can diffuse temporalities and places, and interface light, sound, heat, humidity or information (instead of displaying images or printing documents on paper). It's actually informed by atomic clocks, luminosity, heat, pressure and humidity sensors, distributed in a regular framework across a space representing the entire globe. These "RealRoom(s)", connected permanently, directly recreate in an artificial but perceptible way, a global "terrestrial spatiality" fitting to the scale of Nestlé in 2005 (Photo:

City Wall is a large mutli-touch display installed in a central location in Helsinki which acts as a collaborative and playful interface for the everchanging media landscape of the city. It displays photos and videos which are continuously gathered in realtime from user-generated websites such as Flickr or YouTube.

Dash is collaborative GPS device: an internet-connected automobile navigation system that helps user to "know the best routes around traffic using up to the minute information provided by the Dash Driver Network", "find virtually anything—nearby or near your destination—using Yahoo! Local search"> and "Send an address from any computer right to your car with Send to Car. What is interesting here is the social navigation of such a tool, and of course that it might be relevant for pedestrians as well (see more elements here).

Bruno Marzloff also mentioned how Toulouse-based transport company Tisséo displays travellers' faces on subway screens or how Twitter is used by the BART both as a service system (e.g. receiving updates about delay) and a social space (e.g. people sending messages to each others).

Why do I blog this? this list is definitely a raw description of the projects that struck me as pertinent during this event; they cover a certain range of the urban computing spectrum. The first projects a re definitely more about interactive art whereas the others are a bit more utilitarian. In both cases, they exemplify interesting tendencies regarding urban computing with different level of scales.