Nicolas was interviewed by Infonomía. The interview was written up in Spanish, but there is also this English language video that has Nicolas’ remarks on Urban Computing. Urban Computing, as Nicolas sees it is really a kind of enhancement to what we all do anyway in urban contexts. The most interesting aspects of this, as with anything, even if its technological, are the “art” projects — the ones that instigate and provocate, creating puzzling and curious representations of urban spaces, which do not only include geographic spaces, the ones we are most familiar with, but maps of other kinds of experiences, like the movement of mobile communications clouds where cellphone use migrates over time, or representations of data flows through internet usage over the course of a day, or activity at magnetic and RFID card swipe terminals.
These issues become increasingly significant in an era when more and more people — most people, in fact — live in urban contexts. These are often people in dire, barely habitable conditions. Urban computing cannot be just the fancy, high cost, newest gadgets combining a $700 mobile gps phone television linking device. We also need to think about things that cost next to nothing, but have a high value in terms of their capacity to support and perhaps even bolster the conditions of less affluent populations who are increasingly the majority inhabitants of cities.
A couple of related things that recently popped up. Fabien has some good remarks on a book by Phil Hubbard called “The City (Key Ideas in Geography)”, about the relationships amongst technology, city and the embedded histories of infrastructures — not just the “new” infrastructures, but things like sewage, gas and water, for example.
Nat Torkington has a bit on some of the approaches to creating new ubiquitous computing ideas — quite related in context to urban computing insofar as urban contexts almost always implicate ubiquitous (everywhere, all the time) contexts.