Some interesting discussion in Guadalajara at the kick-off workshop organised by IEEE to flank the CCD: Ciudad Creativa Digital of Guadalajara, a project aiming at revamping an old part of the city, attracting innovative enterprises, becoming a fertile ground for start ups and a place for people to live and enjoy.
I gave a presentation of the Information Infrastructure, what it “can” mean and how to build it. The presentation, you’ll be able to find copy of the slides on the ICT LABS web site, was followed by a 2 hours discussion with Mexican participants to see what could be feasible and what not.
The first part of the discussion leaned on the pessimistic note: we don’t have open data, companies are secretive about their data, there are more convincing reason for keeping data closed than to open them. As discussion evolved people started to say that Open Data is the way to go and the discussion should focus on how to make this a reality, rather than on the reasons why this is not possible.
As an example it was noted that technology evolution makes it possibile to start gathering data as never before: one can place rubber mats in several places on sidewalk (they are dirty cheap) and collect info on pedestrian movement, data on how long people linger in a certain spot (relating this info on what may be going on there), data on what is the impact of goods showcased in shops in terms of attracting people and so on. One can use security cameras video to detect the emotions and moods of people and show it on a big screen. Placing sensors on poles to measure the reflection of light one can derive information on how many people are walking around … Providing free wifi in an area one can attract people and increase their use of apps, through which one can harvest further data.
This can happen bottom up, but of course a municipality that established an Open Data Framework would really increase the speed of adoption of an Information infrastructure.
Providing many “little” services, addressing a variety of aspects is crucial. You need creativity to exploit data in unexpected ways. Who better than youngster can do that: they are both producers and consumers of data and technology today provides them with the tools to create services, quickly and effectively.
Dynamisms and speed is important. Involving citizens in a continuously enriched urban ambient creates engagement. It is so much better to start small, but make it happen, than to wait for the big picture to take shape.
Seeing practical examples on how an Information Infrastructure can be created shifted the pessimistic mood to a much more optimistic one. This does not mean that everything just happens. There are several open questions and it surely requires a lot of work to make it happen, but it can be done!