Busybodies and neighborhood know-it-alls rejoice: today, New York City, in partnership with civic data managers Vizalytics, launched a beta version of neighborhood.nyc, a new website that maps street-level information derived from 311 calls and city agencies. While this information was and is available in the NYC Open Data Portal, it often required time and high-level sleuthing to sort through mounds of data. The city's new website, neighborhood.nyc, pulls from open data feeds to streamline and map information in the data portal, allowing residents to filter results by neighborhood, or categories, including: MTA, traffic, public health, and quality of life. A search of Tribeca (AN's home neighborhood) revealed markers for noise complaints, street closures, restaurant inspection reports, and contact information for police, fire, and elected officials. In the coming months, the city will invite community leaders to become page administrators, allowing them update their neighborhood's home page images, post community events, or promote local business. To ensure broad access, the site is available in 13 languages. Each neighborhood has its own searchable URL. The index lists over 400 districts famous and obscure, including the twee portmanteaus that are definitely not a thing.
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This Friday hundreds of filmmakers, non-profits, and citizens will take place in One Day In LA, a "media creation event" compiling videos that investigate the future of the city. The resulting shoots, which are being collected on onedayla.org, will be shared in an interactive archive and (in edited form) on a television series on public TV about the future of the American city. Questions that the organizers encourage video makers to investigate include: What do you love about your city? What is the best thing happening in your city today? And what are your city’s biggest challenges? They want the broadest participation possible. "This is definitely open to everyone," said Rory Mitchell, a producer for onedayla. "You don't have to be a filmmaker. If you want to point your camera or even your iPhone camera and explore Los Angeles you should do it." Mitchell added: "It's going to be kind of an amazing time capsule. People who have never been to these places will hear stories from places they've never been to. There's an incredible amount of talent. Hundreds and hundreds and thousands of filmmakers running around shooting stuff." Ten other cities are hosting filming on the same day as part of yourdayyourcity.org, including Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Detroit, The Lower Rio Grande Valley, New Orleans, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, and The Twin Cities. If you're interested sign up here. "We see this as being expandable to other cities across the world to spark a conversation about what people want for the future of their cities," said Mitchell.
Machine collaborates on your design as you make itEarlier this summer Design Hub Limburg mounted "The Machine," an exhibition that anticipates what the Netherlands-based design collective is calling the designers' industrial revolution, a movement that sees more and more designers developing and building machines specially suited to their particular needs, like the Computer Augmented Craft project (CAC) by German designer Christian Fiebig. He was commissioned by Design Hub Limburg to create an interactive machine with a digital interface that makes suggestions to the designer during the fabrication process. Using custom-made sensors, the computer tracks the making process and instantly generates formal possibilities based on the designer's chosen parameters, bridging hi-tech with traditional craftsmanship. Fiebig enlisted the help of product and interaction designer David Menting and his company, Nut & Bolt, to devise a system of sensors specifically for spot welding strips of metal. First, Menting used an off-the-shelf CNY70 reflective infrared sensor to detect the position of the metal strips and created an adapted pair of digital calipers to measure the length. A custom-made circular infrared sensor was then created to measure the angle at which two different strips meet. The values read by the sensors are registered by an Arduino, a microcontroller chip that enables a computer to communicate input and output components, in this case the sensors. The Arduino checks whether the infrared sensor can detect the light from a ring of LEDs on the workstation at a rate of approximately a thousand times per second. If not, it knows the light is being blocked by a strip of metal, which it measures the length and angle of, and then sends that information to the computer. From there Martin Schneider used Processing, an open source programming language, to create the software that allows the computer to interpret the information it receives from the sensors, compare it to the project's pre-established parameters and make suggestions to the designer while he or she is making the product. Fiebig was using metal strips to create a bowl with a geometrical, open basketweave pattern as a study for a larger furniture product. His specified parameters were metal strips that could only be cut in lengths from five to 15 centimeters and could only be joined in low-profile connections. During each step in the process Fiebig was able to glance up at the display screen, which showed the current stage of the project, and read the computer's feedback on how much he could stray from the parameters by changing an angle or length of metal without affecting the integrity of the product, something Schneider calls this the "degree of freedom." "If the user aligns the cutter or the strip in a way that is not consistent with the model, it is immediately evident from the display if either length or angle of the current segment are out of range," Schneider said. But the machine doesn't physically enforce these limits--it can't, in fact--and it's up to the designer to take its advice or not, creating a true collaboration between man and machine. "The computer calculates an immediate recommendation based on the parameters of the software, how the result would look if this or that decision was made instead," said Fiebig. He went onto describe the process of making a product with a computerized studio partner as "a feedback spiral that continues an evolving dialogue between craftsman and computer." Ultimately, Fiebig hopes to expand the scale of the project from one tabletop workstation to multiple machines over an entire studio, and from the parametric process to open ended feedback so that several designers could work on various projects in the same space, moving from machine to machine and collaborating with one another as well as with the computers. For those who want to take a crack at this set-up themselves, Schneider released the various components of his program as open source software you can download for free, a generous offer given the amount of work involved, but consistent with the greater collaborative process. "The Machine" runs through October 7, 2012 at C-mine in Genk, Belgium.
We can confirm—although not entirely officially—that New York’s Institute for Urban Design will represent the United States at the 2012 Venice architecture biennale. The Chair of Institutes Board of Directors Michael Sorkin has told AN that the theme of their exhibition will be loosely based on the Institute’s new open-source program, By the City/For The City: An Atlas of Possibility for the Future New York, that played out recently across New York to enthusiastic crowds. The details of the exhibition are still to be developed by Sorkin, co-board member Cathy Lang Ho and the institute’s director (and former AN Managing Editor) Anne Guiney. The U.S. Department of State, in a first for the government agency, selected the winning exhibition a full year before the opening of the international exhibition giving the IfUD team time to raise the $300,000 (the State Department has given them $100,000) needed to open in Venice next year. It is not yet clear who will be the official commissioner aka "meeter, greeter, & spokesperson" of the pavilion, but they are currently looking to create “crowd sourced” events all over la Serenissima and not just inside the official giardini or McKim Mead & White American temple. We send our hearty congratulations and will start hoarding our airline miles!