The University of Chicago announced today that the National Science Foundation has awarded a $3.1 million grant to support the development of Array of Things, an urban sensing instrument that will serve as a fitness tracker for the city. Starting next year, 500 Array of Things (AoT) nodes will measure data on Chicago’s environment, infrastructure and activity to scientifically investigate solutions to urban challenges ranging from air quality to urban flooding.
Reducing infant mortality, improving graduation rates for high school and first-generation college students, preventing home abandonment, and identifying legislative plagiarism are just some of the project goals for the 2015 Eric & Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good Summer Fellowship. For fourteen weeks, 42 fellows in Chicago will work with nonprofit and government partners on these and other important problems, applying data mining, machine learning, statistical, and social science techniques to craft novel and useful solutions.
The open release of city data has given residents exciting new ways of interacting with and benefiting from the information collected by city agencies. But what if there was a way to collect even broader, higher-resolution data on the daily life of the city, providing a massive stream of open data for research and the development of new applications to improve urban life? The Array of Things is a project of the CI's Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD) to deploy interactive, modular sensor boxes around Chicago to collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and motion for research and public use. While the first nodes won't be installed along Michigan Avenue until later this summer, the media has seized upon the idea as an exciting new way of "instrumenting" a city for the greater good.