Sentient Cities as Cybernetic, Real-time, Control Systems : Theory and Practice of Urban Sensing_

A sensationalist approach can be applied to cities as cybernetic mechanisms which is the focus of this course on Sentient Cities as Cybernetic, Real-time, Control System: Theory and Practice of Urban Sensing. Once populated with large number of sensors and endowed with the capacity to register changes in its context, a city can acquire a limited level of agency through comparison, judgment, reflection, reasoning and abstraction. To reach this goal, we should ask ourselves, how can we sense a city and its dynamics? The course is a combination of lecture sessions framing the theory germane to urban sensing practices accompanied by hands-on practical worksh ops that provide the students with technical knowledge in implementing urban sensing projects. To this effect four different approaches are examined: pictoric sensing, viral sensing, sensor networks, and crowdsourcing. Aside from hands-on practical experimentation in the above mentioned approaches to urban sensing practices, in building a theoretical framework around urban sensing practices, the course would try to address questions such as: How can we sense a city? How can we collect information about it? Also, how can the space of urbanity be experienced through revealing patterns that are not initially visible-patterns that are recognized by investigating the collected information? Finally, how can such temporal processes; that is, the recognized patterns, become available to a given observer incorporating additional sensory perspectives rather than direct and unmediated vision? The course agenda happens at the intersecti on of urban informatics and information aesthetics, where form follows data. Two open source programming and prototyping platforms, respectively called Processing and Arduino, are covered as technical tools for the design and small-scale implementation of urban sensing projects in the four above-mentioned categories. The students are required to purchase the package of electronics needed for prototyping with an estimated cost of $200.