The Technology Enhanced City

Jennifer Evans-Cowley's picture
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During the month of May I, along with Tom Sanchez at Virginia Tech, have been teaching a Massive Open Online Course TechniCity. With 21,225 people from across the globe registered for the class, this provided a rich opportunity for sharing ideas for using technology to build great cities. One of the most exciting ways that participants shared their ideas is through their final project. Ranging from videos, to posters, to reports, we were truly impressed with the diversity and practicality of the exciting ideas that participants brought forward. Tom Sanchez and I invited students to submit their project for consideration for inclusion in an ebook highlight the best projects. You can vote on the ideas you would like to see included. A few of the projects are highlighted below.

A number of students designed app mockups, ranging from an app to help people find jobs near where they work in France, tracking bicycle rides in Toronto, help pedestrians navigate Sao Paulo, HappiBus app to help bus riders improve their rider experience in Abu Dhabi, and an app to report eve-teasing (a term used in India and Bangladesh to refer to a prevalent phenomenon of public sexual harassment). 

Others focused on ways to engage the public in city building. This is a fun video explaining an app that would allow the public to suggest improvements in their city. And a proposal for how to get the public engaged in planning public spaces.

Some explored technology that can improve our cities, such as how to use structural sensors to protect building, advance warning systems for floods, and vertical greenhouses among others. Forward Motion is a proposal for creating technology enabled park and rides in Cincinnati that would allow bus riders to plan their trips, take care of grocery shopping and decrease congestion.

One participant, decided to take open data available from the State of California and turned it into an easy to use web app, California Race Projector, that allows users to instantly access race and ethnicity population forecasts for every county in the state. One is exploring creating a safety index and another is exploring data collection for tree cover.

While some students proposed specific projects, others looked at the big picture. One proposed a Framework for SMART City Deployment.

As one student put it "Let me just say, taking this on is just about as exciting of a project as I've ever determined to undertake and I've/am working on some wonderful projects but this is LOCAL." That was our goal, to get people from around the world working on projects to make their cities better. Based on these projects it looks like these students are well on their way to doing exactly that!  

If you missed the class, but want to learn more. A number of the students in the course have shared their how-to technology videos so you can learn how to use a number of tech tools from how to create a mobile app mockup.

Jennifer Evans-Cowley, PhD, AICP, is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Administration for the College of Engineering and a Professor of City and Regional Planning at The Ohio State University.

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