Posts Tagged ‘urban design’
I stumbled upon this slideshare of McKinsey’s China’s Urban Billion presented in Delhi. I like the map on page 15 because it shows future city clusters that we can extrapolate from R Florida’s existing LRP map. And of course bears asking how well we know these centers of future demand
Where do you start to wean yourself from oil? Here’s Shai Agassi and Better Place, building an electric car battery charging infrastructure to support the transition.
This started out intriguingly by iFTF’s Anthony Townsend‘s “The Future of Technology-led Economic Development“. Research parks and incubators are starting to show their age as an economic development tool. Tectonic shifts in the way scientific research and technological innovation happen are leaving them behind, and pioneering new models of collaboration that will require us to rethink how we create places for these activities.
Townsend’s work focuses on the impact of new technology on cities and public institutions, essentially the intersection of science parks + incubators, mobility + urbanisation, future R&D models. It’s fascinating stuff, especially relevant as Singapore was one of the first to enter the real estate science park play and make it really work as a driver of growth.
Townsend is now building out the iFTF ‘Science in Place’ program, which will focus on understanding how future science and technology trends will shape innovation at various scales: the laboratory, the campus, the region and the world. Townsend’s ideas are also summarised in his slideshares below.
I think the last slideshare is the more interesting one. Specifically, most of what Townsend mentions are not unknown to Singapore, and we are already doing it. What is missing is the flexibility, what in FG we used to call scalable infrastructure, to quickly build out for prototyping. Here you might want to take a look at slide 34 for the ecosystem of innovation that builds in community buzz and experimentation (instead of science being isolated) and slide 44 which actually urges mixed uses for future science spaces. Our Biopolis is a step in the right direction, but so much more should be done.
Finally, also in collaboration with Townsend, a Future of Science Parks map. Both Townsend and the creators of the prezi map mention they will unveil the full results of the future of science parks forecast at the XXVI Annual World Conference of the International Association of Science Parks in Raleigh, North Carolina, June 1-4, 2009.
Day Two/ Three/ Four of 2009 O’Reilly Etech Conference in San Jose
It is interesting to note that wherever you look, you will definitely spot someone using either a Macbook or Iphone…
Anyway, day two kicks off with a presentation by Alex Steffen on the topic of Sustaining the American Family. In what was related to as a “Massive Inter-generational Ponzi Scheme”, we are in danger of reaching the tipping point in peak population, peak carbon emission (No prize for guessing who is the greatest Ponzi of all time!). He reckoned that the world would be in ruins if the developing countries (poor) followed the path to richness as experienced by the Western developed countries. While America is in no position to stop the poor from seeking a better life, there is a need to educate them on the risk, else it would be difficult or impossible for anyone to sustain their current way of life. Hence there were talks on 1) energy efficiency and CO2 admission – by introducing electric cars, and how we can measure our energy footprint/ consumption, so as to better improve and optimize usage; 2) Design and Density – moving toward closed loops design, so as to have 100% recyablity (e.g. Crocs shoes) as well as urban homesteading/ clustering to share common resources as well as eliminate unnecessary traveling. There were further discussion in the session by Gavin Starks (founder and CEO for AMEE) on Energy Identity – Interesting to note that 2½ Kg Mac laptop has a 460 Kg CO2 emission footprint (Yap! Guilty faces of all the geeks/ techies in the room!). Energy identity is best describe as a digital embodiment of a user’s physical consumption. With 20 largest cities consuming up to 75% of the world’s energy, and more than 600 million people moving into cities over the next five years, we need rapid innovation in energy efficiency technology, service transformation (high carbon prices/ tax would result in business shift from products to services, i.e. having more efficient public transportation system, reducing car ownership, etc), as well as redefining how our communities’ perception to understand and enjoy quality of life through simplicity rather than money.
Elizabeth Goodman’s topic on Urban Green Space Planning had a different twist, in which people from the same community can register to form a working group to grow and maintain their neighborhood plants (Landshare) as well as reap the benefits/ fruits of their labor. This is no easy task, especially when most of us will have no prior knowledge in the art of farming, and you may need one to have good project management skills to schedule and plan resources to ensure the that plots are well maintained. Then there is the talk on Urban Homesteading by Mark Frauenfelder (Make Magazine) on the seven guiding principals leading to a successful urban farming: 1. Grow only useful things; 2. Region matters (understanding your surrounding environment); 3. Build your soil; 4. Water deeply and less frequently; 5. Work makes work (i.e. work with nature, not against it); 6. Failure is part of the game; and 7. Pay attention and keep notes. Mark also taught about rearing chickens, which I reckon it makes no sense to talk about it here…
In a slighter different light on urban planning, Brad Templeton shared how Robot Cars may be able to solve everything. Well, almost… He wanted a robotic car that parks, delivers and refuels itself, and would definitely be a great hit in countries such as Japan, Singapore, etc… Went on to share video of the DARPA grand Challenge, where competitors compete against each other through a series of test runs, both through urban as well as country-side driving. In addition to the fundamental issue of battery lifespan clouding the development of electric cars today, Robotic cars will bring about a different set of problems such as reliability/ safety, political, national security (terrorism).
Mary Lou Jepsen (recently named as one of the hundred most influential people in the world by Time Magazine – May 2008 for her work in creating Pixel Qi) speaks of Low-Cost, Low-Power Computing in order to reach out the billions of youth in developing countries, deprived of proper education, in her “one laptop per child” project. Though her project fell short of achieving the production target of 8 million laptops last year (actual production figures not disclosed), Mary is still hopefully that the recent downturn would help to drive material/ production cost down in her bid to produce small inexpensive laptops. On the technology front, she claimed that the war for more powerful CPUs are over, laptops are now being widely used as a medium for reading. Hence the development lies in having a low power, sun-light readable, high resolution screen.
We also get the opportunity to see Carl Taussig (HP Lab) introduce flexible paper-like screen, and the technology behind how roll-to-roll manufacturing. In time to come, we will be holding such flexible screens to read our news…
And the theme of Networking with Smart Sensors, which create quite a stir w.r.t. data ownership/ IP and the invasion of personal space. On Wednesday, Tony Jebara (Sense Network) talk about how Mobile Phones Reveal the Behavior of Places and People. With social network portal such as Facebook, Flickr, Gmail or mobile phone with wireless capability (Iphone, blackberry, etc), laptops/ desktop with IP addresses, tons of data are being transmitted and collected at any given time. On one project, they monitored people working in San Francisco financial district, using mobile signals to track their activities (such as working hours) and the correlation to stock market (Though there were questions raised as to how to determine if those monitored are actually bankers, clerks, janitors, etc); on the other project, they tried to map out and cluster group of individuals with similar interest who frequent certain type of restaurants, bars, etc (flow analysis). The latter was deemed to be useful as companies can use these data for their advertising, marketing, strategy planning/ churning (if a few members from the clustered groups start switching to a different network, they would promote themselves to the remaining individuals of similar group to retain their service); demographics; collaborative filtering.
In another session – Real Time City by Andrea Vaccari (Senseable City Lab), he showcased the visualization of mobile traffic between New York and other countries, which gives us a pretty good picture as to how New York is connected to other parts of the world, and social network portals like facebook, flickr, which will reveal the location of the users (I posted in my facebook that I will be in ETech this week!), and then Nick Brachet educated us on how we are being “tracked” daily (sounds like some James Bond movie…) – three nodes to identify location and a fourth to synchronize timing (based on the theory of six degree of freedom).
Though we now know how our digital footprint is revealing information of us at all time, it seems that the application of such data sounds rather trivial and non-conclusive. It would take a lot more (Political, regulations, signal networking, etc) before we establish more use for such technology.
Lastly a special mentioned on the session with Lisa Katayama (blog: TokyoMango.com) and Fumi Yamazaki on Japanese Tech Culture. Interesting to note that just this week, Hatsune Miku music software created a digital song (i.e. sang by computer) that tops their music chart (#2) – Makes you wonder what’s installed for the future of artists…
Oh, I forgot to mentioned that we are treated to the music of Zoë Keating on Wednesday night. Cool!
Main themes from conference centred around mobile technology, data visualization/ real-time data, urban city future (mainly on changes in transport systems & infrastructure) online communities & inventions. Pictures from LIFT conference, and videos of sessions are online.
One interesting speaker, Nicholas Nova, a LIFT researcher, spoke on why ‘future’ products fail. Videophones, intelligent kitchens and flying cars were imagined long before they (a) were realized, or (b) remained a figment of sci-fi. For the failed ideas, some common characteristics bound them -
- recurring reinvention of the wheel, each prototype thinking it was new and different from the previous
- little knowledge of similar (failed) attempts
- trapped in the current context (which limits the imagination of what is possible)
- myth of the ‘average’ human – there is no average; bad understanding of the end-users of the new technology
- automating rituals using technology (eg. location-based services to replace human phone calls) is just not the same
- making technology more natural – but difficult to define what is ‘natural’ behaviour
David Rose, a serial entrepreneur, showed many slides of lovely objects and prototypes that his company had designed. Enchanted objects, as he called them, fulfiled 6 desires – desire to know, communicate, heal, protect, create, and travel – and gave examples of each category.
Another engaging session was on real-time data. Carlo Ratti from MIT Sensable City Lab shared projects that it had done using real-time location tracking and information. Eg. New York Talk Exchange to get a sense of the sms being traded, NY Trash Track – a project to trace and better manage the amount of trash generated, Green Wheel – an eco-friendly bicycle that tracks your route and connects to Facebook informing you who had also crossed your paths in the day. Next, Dan Hill from ARUP gave a lively session on soft city infrastructure. He touched on (1) the ability to bend the physical city (eg. of Paris, where basic road infrastructure did not change, but mobility was changed by bicycles), and (2) ability to see the invisible (eg. work is not non-visible, can we use real-time data to visualize what people are doing, or a 3D-modelling of the wifi network). One point that struck me was how to use augmented reality to empower citizens and make them feel like they were in control of the transportation system.
The highlight of the day was a sharing by Sarah Marquis, an adventurer who walked 14,000km over 17 days across Australia by herself, with only bare necessities and a solar panel. Her story was inspiring and heart-warming. It was the only session that held the entire audience captivated in our seats, with no one typing away at the laptops.
We ended Day 1 with a traditional Swiss fondue dinner. Break pieces of bread, pierce them on the fondue forks, twirl around in the cheese, and pop the entire bite into your mouth. Lovely.
When cognitive science, psychology & urban design converge.
The very same factors that retard our brain memory and attention functions – crowded streets & high urban density – also stimulate medici-interactions and innovation. The key is how to mitigate the damaging effects. Urban city life impairs our attention, memory and self-control. Increased cognitive load makes us to choose a chocolate cake over healthy fruit salads. (Really?)
By Jonah Lehrer | January 2, 2009
….Now scientists have begun to examine how the city affects the brain, and the results are chastening. Just being in an urban environment, they have found, impairs our basic mental processes. After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory, and suffers from reduced self-control. While it’s long been recognized that city life is exhausting — that’s why Picasso left Paris — this new research suggests that cities actually dull our thinking, sometimes dramatically so.
..This research is also leading some scientists to dabble in urban design, as they look for ways to make the metropolis less damaging to the brain. The good news is that even slight alterations, such as planting more trees in the inner city or creating urban parks with a greater variety of plants, can significantly reduce the negative side effects of city life. The mind needs nature, and even a little bit can be a big help
…Natural settings are full of objects that automatically capture our attention, yet without triggering a negative emotional response — unlike, say, a backfiring car. The mental machinery that directs attention can relax deeply, replenishing itself.
But the density of city life doesn’t just make it harder to focus: It also interferes with our self-control. … While the human brain possesses incredible computational powers, it’s surprisingly easy to short-circuit: all it takes is a hectic city street….The key, then, is to find ways to mitigate the psychological damage of the metropolis while still preserving its unique benefits.