harnessing the invisible city

This theme focuses on how technology can help recognize, leverage, and support the out-of-sight, hidden or forgotten resources of urban environments from volunteer communities to subterranean water systems and other underlying city infrastructures. In future cities a lot of data streams and information will be embedded and stored within diverse infrastructures. Besides determining new ways of how to store, save and update all this information within complex infrastructures, new ways of thinking about and analysing information will need to be developed. A fundamental question is what novel multimodal interfaces and interactions are required to encourage participation of citizens, business and government? Over the last few years, advances in graphical interfaces (e.g., the iPhone UI), speech recognition (e.g. Siri), gesture and handwriting recognition (e.g., Kinect), together with the arrival of the mobile broadband, smartphones, sensor technologies, and an assortment of other new technologies providing large and small interactive displays, have changed the face of human–computer interaction [Rogers 2009].

A challenge is to develop displays, services and applications that can visualize the invisible information flows in future cities and help people to make informed decisions during their daily routines. We will investigate and develop a framework for Human Environment Interfaces (HEI) that lets individuals and groups engage with the information available in the city. But how do we visualize the HEI? What resources are visible/invisible? What actors are invisible/invisible? How and where should city information be represented? Possible visualisations include aggregation of quantified self and community data, via ambient displays, mobile devices and public signage.

Our research will focus on the following topics:
The development of novel interaction techniques, which will afford interaction, to help participants to discover services and data around them.
The development of services or interfaces that turn data into information and help people to make better informed decisions.
The development of technologies to encourage sustainable behaviour through ambient and invisible interfaces which capture information relating to citizens’ behaviour.
The development of interaction techniques that connect people to their cities.
The topics are wide-ranging from making invisible data visible, turning data into useful information, supporting sustainable practices and helping citizens to experience their cities in new ways. We will focus on providing information and experiences instead of pure data and facts. The recent range of technological developments described above has encouraged different ways of thinking about interaction design. Researchers and developers have combined the physical and digital in novel ways, resulting in mixed realities, augmented realities, tangible interfaces, and wearable computing. Overall, it is important to design multi-modal techniques (addressing the visual, hearing, and haptic senses), which provide the right degree of abstraction for each citizen in each context.