GSD Course Bulletin - Spring 2014

06371: Smart[er] Cities (SCI 0637100)

Urban Planning and Design
Seminar - 4 credits - Limited enrollment
Friday 2:00 - 5:00   20 Sumner 1C

Course Tools for this course (Canvas)

Nashid Nabian

Course Description

In its current state, the vision of a Smart City is very much fostered by a technologically-enhanced worldview of the urban condition, whereas traditional and modern communication infrastructure, mainly the transport and ICT infrastructures, fuel sustainable urban growth and the quality of urban life. Smart cities are envisioned as wired and ICT-driven cities, saturated with embedded sensors, actuators, digital screens, hand-held devices and smart phones and all sorts of embedded and situated computing devices, with connectivity as the source of their growth and the driver of their effective performance, where all social classes benefit from the technological integrations of their urban fabric.
With the objective of developing alternative models of urbanization framed within the context of technologically-enhanced cities, the course will address the emerging areas of Smart[er] Knowledge and Smart[er] Health, exploring the new opportunities offered by innovative technologies for the redefinition of knowledge creation and distribution for ecosystems of innovation, and for the enhancement of health solutions and wellbeing behaviors for healthier practices. The course will investigate - both theoretically and practically - how new models of networks, enhanced immersive and interactive spaces, and novel computational technologies can contribute to tackle pressing questions of learning and healthcare through the lens of the design of smart architectures, infrastructures and ultimately artifacts, as well as technologically retrofitting or repurposing our built environments.
Smart[er] Knowledge
Education will be the critical determinant of success for our communities in the 21st century. Smart[er] Knowledge involves a community that aims to adapt and innovate within a specific urban context, yet as part of a global network. Such territories need to have a high capacity for learning and innovation built into the creativity of their population, their institutions of knowledge production, and their traditional and modern communication infrastructure. Within such a context, the academy could play an ever more important role as an institution, organization and facilitator for the urban community to find its “anchors” of community life and foster broader, more creative interactions among citizens. All societies have specific learning platforms. What is new in contemporary world is the intentionality of seeking them out as vital to current societal needs, in promoting a participatory governance and the empowerment of citizens, as well as in democratizing access to information and required facilities for innovation. The Smart[er] Knowledge research and applied track aims to rethink and redesign the role of universities in a more participative, democratic, dynamic and yet, functional way, developing an effective integration between academia, institutions, industries and ultimately citizens under new models of “University City.”
Smart[er] Health
Globally, health challenges have seen a sharp increase in diversity, scale, and complexity over recent decades. Aging populations, widespread obesity, self-destructive lifestyle choices of the urban population in areas such as nutrition, mobility, etc., and ailing urban environments are all taking their toll on outdated healthcare systems. While discouraging and grave, these challenges also present ample opportunities for research and innovation to occur. An unprecedented availability of data both to physicians and patients, for example, could lead to more agile healthcare delivery systems and better informed patient lifestyle choices. Advances in sensing technology could allow a deeper understanding of human behavior and consequently aid in creating actively healthy environments and artifacts. New approaches to the design and production of prosthetics could enhance accessibility and involvement of disabled individuals in domains previously unapproachable. Clearly, the implications of such developments go well beyond the clinic walls and into the built environment. It is, therefore, the role of designers to synthesize this vast range of emerging fields of inquiry into user-centered systems, spaces and objects, made to make wellbeing present and dynamic through experience and feedback. In this sense, effective strategies will be investigated to better integrate healthcare facilities within the city, creating hybrid environments that will eventually promote patients, elderly, disabled and immigrants as active players of the city life. The Smart[er] Health research and applied track ultimately aims to identify the role of the city as key driver to develop practices and spaces for better health behaviors and lifestyles.
Following rigorous research frameworks, the course is organized around four dimensions: (1) a literature review of Smart Cities, (2) an analytical case study of proposed or practiced smart city solutions, (3) a rigorous investigation of urban problems that can be addressed by smart city inspired solutions, and finally, (4) a hands-on approach towards envisioning, proposing, designing, developing, and prototypically implementing ITC-driven, networked and integrated solutions to the areas of Smart[er] Knowledge and Smart[er] Health.
The course is part of an academic collaboration with the University of Bergamo (Italy), and a funded site visit to Bergamo is scheduled for the week of February 16th-22nd. Representing the typical mid-size European city, Bergamo will serve as project site for the implementation of smart design solutions that could eventually be exploited by other cities worldwide. Prior knowledge of virtual, physical or mobile programming is not required, but very much appreciated. Students will be term billed $300, which is in addition to the cost of meals and incidentals.