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Business - Written by on Tuesday, September 11, 2007 6:44 - 3 Comments

Don Tapscott
Wiki city Rome

Residents of Italy’s capital will glimpse the future of urban mapmaking with the launch of “Wiki City Rome,” a project developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that uses data from cellphones and other wireless technology to illustrate the city’s pulse in real time.

And how will these residents get this glimpse of the future? Well, that would be on the big screen display in one of Rome’s main centers, as the project ties into “Real Time Rome,” which was presented during the 2006 Venice Architecture Biennale, the prestigious biannual exhibition of contemporary art. Alternatively, anyone with an Internet connection will be able to see a unique, up to the minute map of the Italian capital which includes the movement of the crowds, event locations, the real time positions of buses and trains, and even the where abouts (for now) of well known Roman personalities. The data, of course, is coming from the exact same places and people (anonymously for the most part, in case you were concerned).

This could be a really intriguing experiment on such a grand scale, and the groups that are coming together to make it happen include the MIT SENSEable City Lab, SEAT Pagine Gialle, Telecom Italia, Telespazio, the Rome public transportation authority ATAC, La Repubblica, and Trenitalia. Among the insights they hope to gain, MIT researcher Kristain Kloeckl offers:

“How do people react towards this new perspective on their own city while they are determining the city’s very own dynamic? How does having access to real-time data in the context of possible action alter the process of decision-making in how to go about different activities? These are among the questions we may be able to answer.”

These and many others – with privacy issues and tracking concerns first and foremost in many people’s minds. But done properly, such an offering could not be a valuable tool for everyone in the city to leverage, it could also be a “living” piece of art that provides a new perspective on our world today. As SENSEable director Carlos Ratti notes (using a lot of lingo I am quite comfortable with):

By deploying developments of the ‘Web 2.0′ and the ‘Semantic Web,’ Wiki City can be a significant leap forward towards a pervasive ‘internet of things’ to support human action and interaction.

To check out the wikicity data site, click here. The Web Urbanist also has an interesting post on this topic.



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Dan Herman
Sep 11, 2007 14:26

Business Week highlights a similar project underway in Bangalore, where a couple of tech companies are tracking traffic patterns on the basis of SMS and cell usage, and then overlapping the call origins onto city maps to help commuters avoid congested areas.


Dan Herman
Sep 13, 2007 10:08

And here’s another project from the UK that overlaps municipal works data onto a mapping application to keep drivers apprised of traffic patterns.


Wiki cities | Anthony D. Williams
Feb 15, 2009 22:30

[...] Wikinomics co-author Don Tapscott has an interesting post on Wiki cities over on wikinomics.com. He discusses the “Wiki City Rome” initiative, [...]

Now available in paperback!
Don Tapscott and Anthony D. William's latest collaboration, Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet. Learn more.

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