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Can you capture a portrait of a city with a taxi-mounted sensor?

How can cities collect the urban data they need to make decisions? MIT’s Senseable City Lab affixed sensors to taxis to collect that information.

It takes just ten taxis to cover as much as a third of Manhattan in a single day, opening up new possibilities for mobile sensing. (Courtesy MIT Senseable City Lab)
It takes just ten taxis to cover as much as a third of Manhattan in a single day, opening up new possibilities for mobile sensing. (Courtesy MIT Senseable City Lab)

By Drew Zeiba

Big data and its purported utility comes with the attendant need to actually collect that data in the first place, meaning an increase of sensing devices being attached to all manner of things. That includes treating many everyday things, from skyscrapers to human beings, as sensors themselves.

When it comes to the urban environment, data on air quality, weather, traffic, and other metrics, is becoming more important than ever. However, in general, the sensors that collect this data are fixed, attached to buildings or found in other stable spots. “They’re good in time, but not in space,” said Kevin O’Keeffe, a postdoc in MIT’s Senseable City Lab, in a release from the university. Airborne sensors such as drones, on the other hand, explained O’Keefe,  work well in space, but not in time. To collect greater data that more accurately reflects an entire city—in both space and time—mobile sensors would be needed at street level.

Cities already have fleets of mobile devices close to the ground: vehicles. While private cars operate only sporadically, and buses run fixed routes, taxis spend all day and night traversing large swaths of cities. Incidentally, the lab also tried using garbage trucks, but they did not collect as much data as they predicted cabs could.

Read on HERE >>> Source: ArchPaper Can you capture a portrait of a city with a taxi-mounted sensor?

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