On Cities and Intelligence
We all keep on talking about Smart and Intelligent cities and struggling to find a way to boost eventually this “bottom-up” approach and, at least, balance the dominating “top-down” strategy. Surely, most of us would agree that we need to find a way to make our cities behave as a human interface to help citizens breath with the city in a human way. All of us creating a tide of neuronal drops of information to generate a more intelligent (and emotional) city to live in. A high IQ doesn´t mean you are really “intelligent”, it means you have a good processor, but your laptop does too and it can make nothing even witty without you.
Then, among all these attempts we are doing to find the way, you find a worldwide spread post about an intelligent smart bench. Re-tweetted, re-posted and re-published. It will be deployed on the streets of Boston (supported by one of the strongest multinationals in this field) and will be able to charge your phone. Seriously… is this really intelligent and smart enough? Of course, we are not keen on criticizing our fellow researchers and designers, but is this what we are looking for?
It´s true that it´s mentioned that they are able to collect data on environment and noise levels, which at least looks closer to something. It´s true, taking the good side, that all these data are conveyed onto a website. This is the good part. Maybe it could help us think better and try to foster a collaborative network for the future using the good sides of all these experiments.
Another good point of the project is that we use meeting points that start to be geo-referenced and that could help people interact in the mid-way between urban design and technology, that still to discover uneven location… that real-virtual station probably inhabited by the big-bang sound radiation and other cosmic secrets. I still remember a meeting with both IT people and urban designers, and an apps’ expert saying… yes, the important thing is the app… design can be done by anyone (!). Pure zeitgeist.
As a recap to help all us walk in the good way, what do we really want to create in the city using a proper blend of Design and Technology, of Intelligence and Emotion? What should all these new points, spaces and sensors in the city create? What are we looking for? Are we aware that technology is a tool for humans to build a better society and that something technologically activated is not still “smart”?
And… last question, to be addressed in another post… are we still going on with closed design of objects and not following the interesting path that the hacker community opened up for us? Still thinking each designer is a genius and collaborative work is not the way??? Systems, better than objects, are the future of design.