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FutureSF: city design through urban sensing

October 31, 2011-February 10, 2012

Researchers from California College of the Arts (CCA) explored new ways to collect, share, and use urban data streams for better, more sustainable city design.

Data capture
Because environmental data is typically collected from points on the periphery of modern cities, rather than at the core, the data doesn’t represent the city as a whole. Using Arduino, an open-source electronics prototyping platform, German Aparicio and research assistant Souzan Kachabi developed an easy-to-assemble urban sensing kit, empowering anyone to collect and share humidity, temperature, and ambient light information. Aparicio and Kachabi published their Urban Sensing Networks project on DIY community Instructables.

Data visualization
Aparicio and Kachabi also explored ways to visualize data streams, enabling smarter design decisions. "Through all this, the evolving question was how to most effectively use the emerging data for better design," explains Aparicio.

Using a FARO laser scanner, point cloud data was collected from the CCA. The team imported this data into Revit Architecture software to create an intelligent model containing location and area data, room data, and structural details. Navisworks software enabled them to place sensors within the model and to link to Pachube data streams. 

Emerging technology
The team also explored emerging Autodesk technologies. Project Dasher technology was used to visualize the collected sensor data within the Revit model of the CCA campus.

They used the local weather data integrated into Project Vasari technology to evaluate wind effects. They also used Vasari to explore different design iterations using the collected real-time sensor data.

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