• Beyond the Algorithm: How Can Big Data Improve Human Life in Cities?

      New Ph.D. project at Henning Larsen aims to re-define use of Big Data to strengthen human well-being when building cities.

    • Much has been said and written about ‘smart cities’ – the notion of a city built on data intelligence. A city where the dumpsters are never full because sensors tell communal employees when to empty them. A city where rainwater is intelligently collected so the sewer is never overstretched. And a city, where you will always arrive at a green light because your car is connected to the traffic lights.

      As market research firm Juniper Research topped Singapore as the ‘smartest’ city in the world, their conclusion was drawn from an array of factors including smart grid technologies, intelligent lighting, the use of information technology to improve traffic, Wi-Fi access points, and so on.

      Surely, smart technologies can help to improve traffic conditions and energy consumption, but how can we incorporate the human aspect into this debate?

      We all carry around smartphones that leave footprints and grants us a complexity of fine information of places and people, often in seconds, which we have never experienced in history - and it is changing the way we look at cities and ourselves.

      At Henning Larsen, we believe that ‘smartness’ has to be directly linked to human well-being. With the information provided by ‘Big Data’, we can create a stronger emphasis on strategic planning and urban design that stimulates social wellbeing and public health.

      Through digitalization, valuable understanding of behavioral patterns in the public realm enable urban planners and decision makers to improve the functionality and usage of public spaces. It is finally possible to get deep insights into social behavior and movement in cities, which we should exploit, in order to create places and buildings that improve the Quality of Life within dense urban contexts.

      In this context, the new era of data can disclose untapped values that result in synergetic partnerships among city stakeholders and decision-makers, leading to the possibility to grasp these often hidden interdisciplinary potential in urban design decisions that add value to the local community and economy.

      Therefore, we have initiated a research project that aims to balance humans and technology. With information extracted from digital data, we aim to link urban design to social well-being, in order to provide profound arguments for livable solutions. The real-time knowledge of people and their desires should be in the front row of this debate.

      Technology and big data is truly the heart of any smart city. But how do smart measures affect people living in cities? How can we use smart technologies in buildings and cities, to not only increase the functionality of cities but also increase livability for their residents? These are questions we need to answer.

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