The Boston-based interdisciplinary architecture firm over,under has launched a mobile architecture guide app called Jaunt Pittsburgh. The app provides navigation to a curated list of historic and contemporary architecture throughout the city, and can be downloaded for free for from Apple's App Store or Google play. Users can search and find architecture in three ways. Projects can be sorted through 1) a grid of icons, 2) a sortable list of architects, location, date, or other characteristics, and 3) a navigable map. Along with helping users find buildings throughout the city, the app includes photographs and historical information. Each project also includes a list additional readings outside of the app. "It has unusual breadth—it showcases Pittsburgh buildings as well as industrial and infrastructural sites dating from the city’s founding to the present,” says Martin Aurand, Architecture Librarian and Archivist at Carnegie Mellon University, and collaborator on the app. “It includes rare archival images from the Carnegie Mellon University Architecture Archives, and is particularly strong in its inclusion of modern and contemporary projects." over,under worked with students from Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture and from the Carnegie Mellon Qatar campus on the app. The interdisciplinary practice works on architecture, urban design, graphic identity, and publications. The firm produces everything from architectural films and mobile apps to building and urban design proposals.
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IBM Watson launches a “Siri for Cities” app as more tech companies clamor for smart cities where “things” can communicate and supply data
The IT industry is pushing relentlessly to institutionalize smart cities by installing internet-connected lampposts, digital signage, building facades, and more. IT research and advisory firm Gartner predicts that by 2020, 2.9 billion connected "things" will be in use in the consumer sector. IBM Watson jas joined the breakneck race with the launch of its “Siri for Cities,” a cognitive computing platform that enables users to ask complex questions about city services. By speaking into their smartphones, laptops or Apple Watches, residents can inquire about fire and police services to parking and waste collection. The app supplies responses by drawing upon a database of FAQs, but IBM has outfitted the technology to interact with the language of more in-depth questions, analyse swaths of data, and respond in a concise, evidence-based manner. The mobile app will be piloted in Surrey, Canada, to create a centralized hub for the city. Purple Forge, a digital agency hired by the local government, is working to integrate these capabilities into the pre-existing “My Surrey” app, which streams hyper-local news, events, job listings, bike routes, parking information, and more in real-time. “IBM Watson’s learning abilities are such that the technology builds its knowledge and improves as citizens use it, much in the same way humans learn,” said Bruce Hayne, chair of Surrey’s Innovation and Investment Committee. “This pilot is expected to enhance customer experience by increasing the accessibility of services while providing the city with insight into opportunities for improvement and reduction to service delivery costs.” Reliant on data and interactivity, IBM’s new gadgetry overlaps noticeably with Google’s recently launched Sidewalk Labs, an independent company that aims to develop and incubate new technology to address urban ills. After acquiring Titan and Control Group, Sidewalk Labs announced its first initiative: resuming the work of Link NYC to convert New York City’s unused phone booths into public WiFi hubs. According to the FCC, 55 million people in the United States lack broadband internet access. The WiFi hubs will be tall, thin pillars with digital tablet interfaces and large ads slapped on the sides to keep them free to use. Through Titan’s ad network, Link NYC could bring $500 million in ad revenue to the city over the next 12 years, the DeBlasio administration has predicted. Meanwhile, City Science researchers at MIT’s Media Lab are building mobility networks for “multi-modal transit.” One initiative is a search and recommendation engine for a variety of energy-saving transit modes, such as car-pooling and bike-sharing, determined by weather, traffic, and past user patterns. Researchers are angling for further energy cutbacks by designing and prototyping electric scooters, driverless cars, and compact bike-lane vehicles.
Greater Good Studio wants to reinvent crowd-sourcing. Their budding campaign, Designing Chicago, aims to build the ultimate public transit app using public data from the Chicago Transit Authority. But the interesting part is where you come in. Not only is the project crowd-funded — it’s crowd-designed. “Since it is called public transit,” founder George Aye said in the team’s Kickstarter video, “it only made sense that we designed this application with the participation of the public.” The app’s features are still up for debate, but Greater Good said they hope to create a “new, truly user-centered tool.” Ideas in the Kickstarter video include automatic weather alerts, the ability to work backward from your calendar to suggest transit routes, and two-way communication with CTA to suggest system improvements. Aye worked at IDEO for 7 years before becoming lead designer for the CTA. The group also has the backing of Massimo Vignelli, designer of the NYC subway map, who is an advisory board member. They are anticipating an April 2013 launch date. Watch an interview with Vignelli here: