This project is solving the Smart Cities, Smart Climate challenge.
In the Leicester UK hub we sat down to brainstorm ideas for the Smart Cities app, as eight people who had never worked together before, and most of us had never even met until Space Apps Challenge 2013.
We were particularly inspired by those phrases in the challenge which said “Explore innovative applications for... sensors to benefit science and society”, and “The goal is to encourage...other cities and to make creative use of the data for urban environment research”. It became clear that, for us, this challenge is all about using technology to engage citizens with the environment around them. That’s why we’ve called our idea XSpacious. It’s all about eXploring your (statistical) space.
We decided to create an original presentation tool to show environmental data, and realised we could use locative information, in the style of an augmented reality app, to present information about the surrounding area to an individual within that space on their own mobile device. Then within the same app, we could provide the user with tools to contribute information. The idea is to crowd-source the sensor network requested by this challenge, thus making the users feel involved at the same time as gathering new urban data sets for scientists. We realised that some of the most useful feedback could come from combining data, so for example a citizen could see whether local climate, air quality, or noise variations within a city might have impact on health issues found in nearby areas. And from there we knew we’d also need some larger scale map-based visualisation to understand wider areas and more complex statistics.
We needed to source sample environmental data sets to present via the app. We contacted the Exeter group who were working on this challenge, and they told us they were able to upload the Birmingham data to a web server with public API, so that it could be accessible by our app. We also created 15 fictitious sensor locations around Leicester which we used to collocate land surface temperature (LST) data from the MODIS instruments aboard NASA's Aqua and Aura platforms in order to create a temperature time series for the city. We used this in conjunction with model air quality data from ECMWF and some synthetic air quality indices. In conjunction with the environmental data we took government social economic statistics. All were put onto a common grid for use by the app and prototype visualizations. We also made a web page to crowd-source data during the weekend, and some simulated data sets we could try straight away.
We hope this inspires others using apps to explore the environment in their cities.
The next steps would be to make the web server publicly accessible and begin some trials. This would also involve consulting citizens on which data sources and comparisons might be most useful for them to see, and which information they would find most engaging to be able to upload themselves and visualise. The results of such consultation would also affect the way in which the map-based visualisation can be incorporated alongside the augmented-reality-style display. Our team has already scheduled some meetings to discuss how we might take this forward.
Project InformationLicense: Creative Commons BY 3.0
Source Code/Project URL: https://github.com/XSpacious/SpaceApps2013
ResourcesWeb request for crowd-sourcing - http://leicestersmartcities.blogspot.co.uk/
Live demo in Leicester UK hub on Sunday 21st April 2013 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EoU_LsfT4k&list=PLk9LSE1tc0LU1o6pEltXo4C4ECQzJoFFn
Q&A in Leicester UK hub on Sunday 21st April 2013 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64TmFLN2Ut0&list=PLk9LSE1tc0LU1o6pEltXo4C4ECQzJoFFn