REAL TIME RESPONSIVE INFRASTRUCTURES: INVESTIGATING NEW DESIGN SPACES
In the near future the most of the world population will live within urban areas, which will become bigger and more complex. This will make cities’ management difficult in terms of infrastructures accessibility and resources exploitation. New services and infrastructures need to be researched and designed in order to match this new emerging needs, taking in consideration different issues such as energy efficiency, accessibility, social and environmental sustainability.
Services and applications based on real time data are extensively used by companies and institutions to manage their networks and systems or to provide basic information to users. Nevertheless this data often remain segregated or available to citizens only singularly.
Promising results seem to emerge by creatively combining multiple data streams coming from different sources (internet, mobile data, network of sensors etc.) making them accessible to users. Gather these data in to customized, on demand and real time services could provide a completely new experience for users and the way they interact with the physical world. Moreover they can represent an opportunity for companies and institutions to rethink their business models or the way they provide services.
This research investigates the boundaries and the role that interaction design can have in the development of a “Urban Internet of Things” to enhance the ability of cities and institutions to increase their responsiveness to the increasing citizens’ needs. It also tries to provide an understanding of the influence that the digital world can have on the built environment, product and transportation design, as well as what features makes these new real time services usable and attractive for final users.
The general hypothesis is that these data can provide the base to develop an enabling platform and a mix of customized product service systems able to fulfill specific needs on demand, promoting a behavioral change and a cultural shift towards more efficient pattern of consumption and production.Like in a human cell, this ubiquitous infrastructure will track the different inputs and outputs in order to increase the overall efficiency of the system. It will integrate and visualize all the other existing infrastructures and related subunits present in a city, such as transportation/cars or energy supply, showing their functioning in real time and help in managing them.
Taking them as an example for broader considerations, this research focus on different case studies belonging to as many areas and infrastructures relevant for the functioning of the city system and its life in order to demonstrate how this “IT infrastructure” and services will work; It finally provides a scenario of interaction and an interface prototype to show how the interaction among users, products and the built environment, can actually take place.
In relation to basic design research this PhD project aims at contributing to our general knowledge on how to define (theory) and work (method) with large-scale infrastructures as a design space. Moving away from simplified views on design as being about surfaces this thesis instead focuses on the inner aspects of design, i.e. complex and interlinked infrastructures.