Innovation

Use big data to improve the big city, say scientists

Scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are developing methods that use Big Data to help cities of the future become better places to live. Matthew Stock reports.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (REUTERS) – No enough space and growing populations – two big challenges facing cities around the world.

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believe big data could help.

This includes all the information being collected by our smartphones, as well as cameras and other connected devices.

FABIO DUARTE, RESEARCH SCIENTIST AT MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT) SENSEABLE CITY LAB,

“Today in our cities we are generating so much data, so when we have a cellphone we’re generating data, with all the cameras that we have in the cities we are generating data… what we can do is make sense of this data and to see which benefits we can have from this data and bring these achievements back to the city.”

MIT’s Treepedia project uses the images from Google Street View.

Using computer vision techniques, they can accurately discard anything that isn’t tree leaves to show the amount of tree canopy in city.

Similar thinking using other datasets could improve public infrastructure and living space.

Though it’s not without controversy, with concerns about the way companies harvest and use our personal data.

But the burgeoning internet of things will make the data more anonymous, according to the researchers.

FABIO DUARTE, RESEARCH SCIENTIST AT MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT) SENSEABLE CITY LAB,

“One of the key concerns we have right now about big data is about our privacy. So, if we’re giving away our data, who is controlling this? But, actually, very soon it won’t be people talking to people that we’ll be tracking, but things talking to things; this is what we call the Internet of Things. So, street lights talking to cars, talking to traffic lights, to sidewalks. And then this data is anonymous and this is the data that will actually make our cities better.”

By making sense of this myriad of data, the team aims to help urban planners make the metropolis fit for future generations.


Associated Links

  • Google
  • Science and technology in the United States
  • Massachusetts
  • Big data
  • Data management
  • Technology forecasting
  • Transaction processing
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • MIT in popular culture
  • Alex Pentland

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