Big data and smart cities

I didn’t blog much in the last months as I was fortunate enough to spend the second half of 2010 as a researcher at the MIT SENSEable City Lab. I spent most of my time working on the LIVE Singapore! project (and living between Boston and Singapore), in particular exploring the “so what?” aspect of WoT – that is how to actually build something useful on top of all these sensors. This project is very timely and matches wonderfully with what’s happening right now in the and smart cities spheres.

We have seen most IoT/WoT projects applied to smart buildings and home automation, and other mobile interaction scenarios, but it is worthwhile to consider how this fits the bigger picture and think of more meaningful scenarios. As more and more people will move to cities, it will become essential to rethink pretty much every aspect of the infrastructures our cities were built upon. As sensors and other tiny computers are being deployed in our cities, there are strong incentives by making all this data available, publicly and simply, as evidenced by recent conferences organized by O’Reilly, such as Strata or Gov 2.0 summit.

The LIVE Singapore! project aims to build a scalable platform for real-time data processing and sharing.

Cities are a goldmine of data, and who can derive most meaningful information out of this mess of data, will be happy. Most efforts in the real-time/big data domain are mainly concerned with digital data, such as stock exchange, fraud detection, or network security, and little effort has explored the use of physical data. But this is where the real potentials of WoT lie: the real world. Both smart cities and their data, along with the underlying technologies to support such applications, are the things to watch out for in 2011.

As I am speaking about all this next week at lift – both the Web of Things in general and how it aligns well with the current trend in smart cities – and also organizing a workshop on this topic with liftlab colleagues Nicolas Nova and Fabien Girardin, I’ll be posting soon a detailed wrap-up about my talk with lots of notes and links and pix. As I am also, currently writing my PhD dissertation, be sure I’ll soon be sharing more about these things right here.

[I have shared a few more “personal” thoughts. I think it’s important to make this blog more social, human-centered. Not simply by adding I like buttons on facebook or “tweet this”, but also share more our own experience with the WoT. Feel free to let us know your thoughts. Yeah, we’ll be adding some “tweet this” and “I like” buttons pretty soon too…]

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