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Ambient Urban Informatics

I was just looking through a series of pamphlets on “situated technologies,” and I found this one on Urban Computing and Its Discontents very interesting. A quote:

Stamen Design’s Oakland Crimespotting . . . is a nifty hack that imports Oakland Police Department crime data into a Google Maps mash-up, and does so not willy-nilly but with a fairly high degree of aesthetic polish. . . . But it must be said that its impact is somewhat limited by the fact of its output being limited to a PC, or at best a smartphone, screen.

Why? Because geographically-organized data like this cries out for a direct mapping back to the locations in question. How much more powerful and actionable will things like Crimespotting be when they’re ambient—when the information about a place comes to you when you’re in that place? When, instead of shaded circles on a screen, you experience the output as a rising tone in your headphones, as a tickle in your shoe or a sudden wash of yellow over the view through your glasses, as you’re actually walking through the streets of Oakland?

I have a sense that “stop and frisk” locations may also eventually be mapped, and sensorially “alarmed,” as that technology becomes more common.