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TEDxLakeComo 2010 - Carlo Ratti sulle

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Good morning everyone. We have seen some very nice things this morning and in a way this is an illustration of what we have seen in the previous presentations applied at the scale of the city, and this is actually what we do in Boston at the SENSEable City Lab. We started six years ago and are now about thirty people in Boston and ten in Singapore. We also have an office in Italy where we do more architectural projects. Here is the starting point - if you look at this picture: this is something that everyone was enthusiastic about in the nineties - a world that was becoming increasingly virtual. So enthusiasts, people like Gilbert in ’95… actually, let’s think back to that time for a moment -‘95 was when Nicholas Negroponte wrote ‘Being Digital’, ‘93 was when the first web browser was invented, before Internet Explorer or Mozilla, it was called Mosaic and very rudimentary… Well, in ‘95 Gilbert wrote about the disappearance of the city “we are headed for the death of cities” and “cities are leftover baggage from the industrial era” It is a difficult job to be a futurist - no prediction could have missed the target than Gilbert’s one, 15 years after the fact, because today we know that in reality the opposite has actually occurred to cities - in the last fifteen years cities have thrived. This is an image of Chiangino City, China in 2010 China alone is building more cities than has ever been built by humanity. We also know that, since a couple of years ago, and for the first time in mankind’s history, half the world's population now live in cities. According to the United Nations, this number will grow to reach five billion by 2030. So what happened? What happened was that everything digital, everything that we call part of the information network, that Gilbert thought would destroy physical space, has not been destroyed but has integrated with the physical realm. In a way it's as if bits and atoms have blended together, marrying the digital world with the physical world seamlessly. And looking at this process, there are some very interesting things we can do to better understand the city, in the way in which we design and the way in which we inhabit space, and this is what we are studying in the lab at MIT. In a certain sense we can say it's almost as if there was a new type of planning, of design, of urban design but also design their own sets of objects together. The individual remains at the center, but now interacts with space in a new way, with new tools - the Internet, digital systems and devices, sensors - that mediate between ourselves and the space we occupy. So I have put together some projects to show you a little of the different ideas and things that are possible. The first project, which is a bit old now, from 2006, but I always like to show it in Italy… In 2006, it was the Venice Biennale - an important architecture exhibition that is held every two years in Venice - in 2006 it was dedicated to ‘the city’, curated by Ricky Burdett, a professor at the London School of Economics in London. Ricky gave us a pavilion and asked us to work, really to see something related to the city, and to technology. This is a photo of our pavilion and our idea was to work on the city in real time, on how we feel, understand and describe the city today, with lots of real time data. So what did we do? We partnered with Telecom, Google, ATAC, the Rome's public transport body, taxi drivers and the City of Rome, for the Biennale, and the idea is very simple: how much data about the city can we capture in real time? The first type of data that we can utilise is the data from mobile phones - together it is an anonymous aggregate because it is collected from millions of people, from ourselves as we move through the urban domain, and all the data from public transport, from taxis collected through GPS. We took all this information and transferred it, in real time to four servers, in Italy and America, that you can see here on the right. The data arrived in the US where they processed it, visualised it and bounced it back to the Venice Biennale. The year 2006 was a glorious one, as many of you may remember - it was when Italy won the World Cup, among other things, and I'll show you an illustration of what happened… We were mapping Rome, studying Rome, and what happened in the city of Rome that day when we won the World Cup in the summer, the July of 2006… Just taking the everyday data, this was the first time anonymous aggregate data had been taken from the mobile phone network at the considerable scale of the city… Here it is in this video: you can see Rome, you can see the river, the Colosseum, the centre is a little over there, and you can see here is "before the match" - a normal day with people here and there, moving around a bit… Then the game begins. Silence. France scores. Italy scores. You can see at half time, people make a call, go to the bathroom… At the end of the first half of extra time, second half of extra time, Zidane is sent off and Italy wins. Then that night, if you look there was a big celebration, a big party in the city centre, you see that in the peaks in the centre. The next day there was a big get-together between the champions and the prime minister, which was Prodi at the time, and the citizens of Rome - you see the peaks in the centre - and then there was a big party at Circo Massimo and then, in fact, you see the peak of the Circo Massimo which grows bigger. This shows to some extent how the city can be understood, and described in a new way, through these networks that are a little like what we saw in the presentation of the first with the robot, which absorbs information from lots of sensors with different points of view. This is just the basics - what we have seen so far, but you can do much more - if you take this data and analyze it, for example, you can begin to understand how to improve the way city works. In this map, for example, we wanted to find out if there was a good match, a good overlap, between people, rather pedestrians and public transport; so in red you can see the density of the pedestrians, but how we can obtain information about pedestrians? You have the data from the mobile telephone network, just imagine it as an anonymous flow that shows the movements in the city. If you take this flow, you can see how fast it moves from one area to another, you can try to understand which parts of the data are cars and which parts are pedestrians. Our first idea with Rome was to look at the speed of the data in order to separate pedestrians from cars. In Rome this doesn't work like this because the pedestrians move faster than the cars, but with a little more artificial intelligence we succeeded and had a good estimate. For example here you can see in red the train station, Termini, all the red spots are pedestrians, people moving on foot, leaving the station, and going into the city. And then in yellow is all the public transport, taxis etc, which we looked at to see if there was a decent correlation between the two. We all know that very often there are a lot of people waiting for a bus and there are no buses, and in other cases the opposite - there are a lot of buses going around empty. And so then you think, well, we can use this to improve the planning of public transport. But think of a future, not so many years away, where it’s actually the opposite… Today it is us that is responsible for the bus, it is us that has to fix it; we have to go to wait for the bus, and the bus always follows the same route. Think of a not too distant future when it could be the opposite: the buses obeying us, meeting the needs of the citizens, moving dynamically from one place to another. I have described this to show you that there are a number of projects, of very interesting things you can do today by looking at the city, collecting real-time data from lots of networks and sensors, and trying to use it to run the city in a better way, distributing and sharing this information with the entire population. And, among other things, this is the centre of the Singapore project, that is, it is central to the work at the laboratory in Singapore. In other cases it is also interesting to see how this can interface with citizens and with everyday objects. Here is a project we did in Copenhagen last year in December for the UK Summit on Climate Change, at the invitation of the mayor of Copenhagen, who came to us a couple of years ago with a specific question: how can new technologies help make the city more sustainable? So we took a group of students from MIT and went to Copenhagen… Imagine the surprise of everyone, especially Americans, who are used to cars and seeing a city like this: this is Copenhagen, which 20 years ago was full of cars, but now half of the journeys every day are made by bicycle So we thought, what can we do with technology and the bike? Here is the idea: [video] This is also the first prototype on the roads, tested on the roads… The very basic idea is that we can take a bicycle and transform it in the same way as a hybrid car, like a Toyota Prius, so when we brake we can recover the brakes' energy. The idea that everything is concentrated in the rear wheel, so simply changing the wheel, or better still, changing only the central part of the wheel, we can transform the everyday bike, into an electric hybrid bike that recovers energy when braking, energy that we can get back when we need it. All this whilst cycling around so there is no need to be wired to anything. I can show you how we can do this in a unique way, how we can control it wirelessly, so everything is done with your feet, you brake by reversing the direction in which you pedal, recovering when you return to pedalling by a system with a torque sensor that allows you to see the force that one is applying, the wheel registers the level of effort and can increase it. You can choose this level of help - if it is to be increased two-fold, three-fold, or even decreased, if you actually want to do more exercise, or if you find children are going too quickly and want to put a brake on, you can make set the level lower and the bike will only use half of the effort you put on to the pedals. This is the first prototype, and here in detail… Among other things, it is made in a way so that you have to change one thing, at the centre of the spokes, the rest, even the tyre of the wheel can remain exactly the same. It will be the focus of a start-up company next year, and then the following year will be available commercially. The third example that I wanted to show you is an example of when this new equation, between ourselves, how individuals in the built environment through technology become part of the architecture. In a project that we did a couple of years ago in Zaragoza - Zaragoza Expo in 2008 was host to the World Expo like Shanghai this year, and Milan, we hope, in 2015. In this case it started with an invitation from the Mayor of Zaragoza, who came to us with a very specific question and the question was based on the theme of the Expo, which was to be water, like in Milan it will be ‘feeding’, he asked: how can we use water in a new way thanks to technology. Just retracing history a bit, and taking this beautiful tradition that they have in Spain, in North Africa, and in many of the Mediterranean countries, of using water in really refined, elegant ways in public spaces besides just for cooling in summer. How can we rethink this today? We did a workshop at MIT, with researchers and students, and one of the ideas that came out at the end was this - I don’t know if you can see it well - a sort of cube with lots and lots of small valves that are controlled binary, which allows them to be open or closed, so you can create something like pixels made of water, a curtain of water that opens and closes, on which you can write, you can have patterns, writing, drawings. And how this image can also be interactive? So, when one approaches, it can open for you to enter. In this case there is a guy who is jumping, the water opens to let him through… We presented to the mayor, who was very pleased… The opposition party in the City Council said it was because he felt like Moses, and so he wanted to part the water and lead his people through… However it was, as a result of this, he gave us the task of designing the entrance pavilion at the Zaragoza Expo, and this is the video: [video] It opens to let you through, everything is made of water, all the walls made of water, and the roof is as well What you see behind is the Zaha Hadid Bridge near our pavilion. Then if there is too much wind or to minimise splashing you can lower the roof and the architecture disappears… This project was done by MIT along with the architectural practice in Turin. We had, making the video, a lot of fun put it was a lot of work to actually design it - we did not think that they would decide to build it. What happened was though, a few months later Time Magazine, an American magazine, nominated it as the ‘Best Invention of the Year’, and so that became really tough because they basically said, “okay now you’ve got build it”, or something like that…So I had to quickly put together a team to finish the project and realize it. An interesting thing that you can do today but couldn't have done a few years ago, is put together a team of people from different continents, different countries, spending a lot of time working together, using Skype, using advanced short file exchange systems. So in this case it was just like working in a number of different countries. One interesting thing was who actually built the pavilion, which was Siemens, a company that usually does not design architecture, but in this case it was an architecture that almost becomes a computer, which is where Siemens comes in… These are some of the first images, before the inauguration, one of the guys from MIT controlling how the water is cut… This is a person passing by who is a bit puzzled… In some cases if you want to make the effect more like water falling, you can project on to the water, so you can add a layer, a layer of projections on the physical pixels. And this was when I was trying not to get wet entering the pavilion. Now I should not tell you what happened that evening when all the sensors stopped working. They were probably using a computer running Windows, and so it crashed and everything stopped working. And actually that evening was one of the most entertaining evenings, because the pavilion continued to make openings in the water, like in the images shown, and all the kids in Zaragoza came to the pavilion to play differently. It was no longer about approaching the pavilion and it opening for you to enter, but you approached the pavilion and had to jump through the gaps without getting wet… For us it was a good lesson because, as architects, as engineers, as sociologists and as researchers, we always imagine how people will use things that we design, but in the end the reality and humanity are always a surprise and in this case - a nice surprise. Thank you.

Video Details

Duration: 18 minutes and 29 seconds
Year: 2010
Country: Italy
Language: Italian
Producer: TEDx
Director: Gerolamo Saibene
Views: 56
Posted by: tradottiinitaliano on Dec 19, 2010

È architetto e ingegnere.

Guida l'impresa Carlo Ratti Associati a Torino e insegna al Massachuttes Institute of Technology ( MIT ) dove nel 2004 ha fondato il MIT SENSEable City Lab. Il Lab esplora le città in real-time studiando il crescente sviluppo di sensori e di apparati elettronici mobili e il loro rapporto con l'ambiente urbano.
Il Time Magazine ha giudicato il suo Digital Water Pavillon a Saragozza una delle migliori invenzioni dell'anno. È stato inoltre incluso da Esquire Magazine nella lista Best & Brightest e in quella di Blueprint Magazine delle 25 personalità che cambieranno il mondo del Design nel 2010.

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