Rome in Real Time OK, not sure if you can make it to the Venice Biennale before it closes Nov. 19, but those crazy guys at MIT have produced an exhibit, which uses data from wireless devices, to show how people interact with a city in real time. From the press release: "Real Time Rome features seven large animations projected on transparent Plexiglas screens. One screen shows traffic congestion around the city, while another screen shows the exact movements of all the city's buses and taxis. Another screen is able to track Romans celebrating major events like the World Cup or the city's annual White Nights festival (Notte Bianca, which will happen on Sept. 9, the evening before the biennale's architecture exhibition opening). Additional screens show how tourists use urban spaces and how cars and pedestrians move about the city..."
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Rome in Real Time

An image showing average cellphone user distribution in Rome on July 9, 2006 at 11:00 p.m., about an hour after Italy won the final match of the World Cup. The Senseable City Laboratory, MIT hide caption

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The Senseable City Laboratory, MIT

An image showing average cellphone user distribution in Rome on July 9, 2006 at 11:00 p.m., about an hour after Italy won the final match of the World Cup.

The Senseable City Laboratory, MIT

OK, not sure if you can make it to the Venice Biennale before it closes Nov. 19, but those crazy guys at MIT have produced an exhibit, which uses data from wireless devices, to show how people interact with a city in real time. From the press release:

Real Time Rome features seven large animations projected on transparent Plexiglas screens. One screen shows traffic congestion around the city, while another screen shows the exact movements of all the city's buses and taxis. Another screen is able to track Romans celebrating major events like the World Cup or the city's annual White Nights festival (Notte Bianca, which will happen on Sept. 9, the evening before the biennale's architecture exhibition opening). Additional screens show how tourists use urban spaces and how cars and pedestrians move about the city.

And from their Web site (which has some really neat pictures of the experiment, although I can't help but think doesn't quite capture the whole thing):

These real-time maps help us understand how neighborhoods are used in the course of a day, how the distribution of buses and taxis correlates with densities of people, how goods and services are distributed in the city, or how different social groups, such as tourists and residents, inhabit the city. With the resulting visualizations users can interpret and react to the shifting urban environment.

This strikes me as an incredibly powerful tool to see how people actually use cities, and some of the problems thereof. Molto, molto cool.

Update: Due to my complete inability to actually read, I find out today the biennale runs till Nov. 19, not Sept. 19. So you have time to check it out. Thanks to the folks at University of Texas, Austin for pointing it out. They also have an exhibit in Venice on the various proposals for reconstruction of the Gulf Coast after Katrina.