Array of Things is designed as a “fitness tracker” for the city, collecting new streams of data on Chicago’s environment, infrastructure, and activity. This hyper-local, open data can help researchers, city officials, and software developers study and address critical city challenges, such as preventing urban flooding, improving traffic safety and air quality, and assessing the nature and impact of climate change.
In the first phase of the project, 50 nodes will be installed in August and September on traffic light poles in The Loop, Pilsen, Logan Square, and along Lake Michigan. These nodes will contain sensors for measuring air and surface temperature, barometric pressure, light, vibration, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and ambient sound intensity. Two cameras will collect data on vehicle and foot traffic, standing water, sky color, and cloud cover.
Here is a video about Array of Things featuring Brenna Berman, the Chief Information Officer for the City of Chicago, and Charlie Catlett, the Director of UrbanCCD and lead investigator for Array of Things:
This important work goes back to WindyGrid, the City’s internal tool displaying all past and present city data. Now, through OpenGrid, the ability to see and layer information about Chicago is in the hands of individual residents. Anyone with Internet access can see Chicago’s data come alive in relation to their homes, communities, and workplaces.
Here is the OpenGrid introductory tutorial:
OpenGrid is Open Source
The City first articulated its plans to build a public-facing WindyGrid and open up the application source code in the 18-month Tech Plan Update. The Plan stated OpenGrid would be “the first open source situational awareness system that other municipalities can use and build upon.”
We worked with technology partner Uturn Data Solutions to create the code that drives the data. This easy-to-deploy stack can be used by any municipality or organization to display open datasets on a map. This entire project is dependent on our Amazon Web Services account, which is maintained by Uturn. We also serve many Chicago-based technologists via our Developer Resources program,
We’re proud of our continued work with the City to deliver on the Tech Plan, with local developers to encourage their role in the civic tech ecosystem, and with the University of Chicago to support the plenar.io platform for data ingest.
Note: this is a guest post from Jonathan Giuffrida. Jonathan has been working at 1871 in one of the seats we maintain there for innovators in civic technology. Here’s more on that program.
This summer, I’ve been using Smart Chicago’s space in 1871 to help work on a new product that is intended to change the way we use open data.
Plenar.io was conceived as a centralized hub for open datasets from around the country. Funded by the NSF and the MacArthur Foundation, and led by a team of prominent open data scientists, researchers, and developers, it is a collaborative, open-source solution to the problems inherent to the rapid growth in government data portals.
The primary innovations of Plenario focus on making data easier for anybody to find, access, and download, regardless of its original source or format, and to do so in a free and efficient manner. The result is an enormous improvement to the ecosystem that returns us to the core promise of making the data open in the first place – that it can help improve our cities, our governments, and our lives.