Much of the work at the Catapult is about making more holistic, integrated urban projects happen. While this can include governance and investment pieces, we’ve also been exploring technology at the street level.
For example our Sensing Cities project, which is deploying air quality sensors across Enfield, Brixton, Elephant & Castle and Hyde Park, and in further cities soon, building new evidence for policy-makers and organisations like the Royal Parks and Lend Lease, as well as conducting insights work understanding how citizens perceive air quality. (This in collaboration with Intel ICRI and others (great to be working with my old colleague Duncan Wilson again.)) We've some research emerging soon from our ethnographers’ work with citizens in Enfield, as well as some insightful data visualisations combining sensor data with mobile phone data over Hyde Park. More soon.
See also Cities Unlocked, a collaboration with Microsoft Research, Guide Dogs for the Blind and others, exploring how technology can assist visually impaired people to navigate the city. Aspects of this were picked up by the BBC, Daily Mail et al a couple of weeks ago. And our involvement as part of a consortium creating a city-wide ’Internet of Things’ prototyping platform, in Milton Keynes.
For me, the street is a fundamental focal point as it's here that technology’s promise is revealed—or not. For too long, the ’smart cities’ movement has not bothered to make its value clear to citizens, or to politicians, in tangible, meaningful form. This is probably why its development over the last decade has been patchy at best. So in the prototyping of new urban products and services, we develop tangible demonstrations of the value technologies may have in future cities.
(Skip to the end if you're interested in working with us on these kinds of projects—we're hiring.)
A recent example has been our collaborative research project with BERG, concerning the possibilities of dynamic, web-connected, more sustainable urban displays. Here's the description of the project from the site we built to convey the research: