Measuring Public Space Engagement

Chair_Sensor_Header

Photo of AGILE Parklet on 5th Avenue , Nashville, TN in front of Frothy Monkey Restaurant Coffeehouse during Park(ing) Day 2015

The AGILE Parklet joined the diverse array of parklets on Park(ing) Day 2015 as they popped up in parking spaces all across the country. While it was set up in the heart of Downtown Nashville adjacent to a local restaurant and coffeehouse, sensors embedded in the parklet’s chairs successfully gathered over six hours of data about the parklet’s use. This automated data collection effort was a continuation of the experimentation The AGILE Landscape Project has been conducting since publishing The Future of Public Space Analytics earlier this year. The post made the case why automated data collection through embedded sensors could provide unique and valuable insight into the use of public space. The AGILE Parklet has been deployed during events and self initiated pop-ups to demonstrate the real world application and potential of this approach. This initial proof-of-concept has focused on collecting information about the number of people sitting in the parklet, the utilization of its capacity, and the length of stay of individual visitors.  These metrics and the ability to efficiently capture them over extended periods of time have shown great promise for developing public space analytics that enable designers and managers to make more informed decisions rather than anecdotal observations and/or assumptions. What follows is an examination of the data collected during Park(ing) Day and and exploration of its application.

Why focus on the seating? Seating is a key component of successful public spaces and the act of sitting represents a relevant and measurable means of quantifying users engagement with a space. In addition, this action can be accurately, and anonymously captured to create long-term longitudinal datasets. By capturing the total number of people sitting in chairs and how long they stay, one can quickly surmise a level of engagement, the capacity of the seating utilized, and turnover of users within the space. This information offers meaningful metrics that provide new insights into the dynamics of a space’s use. A device embedded in each of the AGILE Parklet’s chairs enables them to easily capture this data and transmit it wirelessly to an on-line database for analysis. The captured data is simultaneously plotted in real-time on a companion website.

The current analysis of the collected data and the development of tools to facilitate the application of it has centered around the following three metrics; Total Visits, Utilized Capacity, and Median Length of Stay.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Enlightened Space: Will LED Lighting Be The Backbone of the Smart City?

Smart City Lighting Network

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) will forever transform the urban landscape as it begins to permeate our cities with a robust distributed network of unique sensors that can actively communicate with one another to deliver information about their surroundings and/or execute specific tasks. The migration of the internet from cyberspace to the real world is intrinsic to the concept of the Smart City. The network can provide streams of data for helping us make more informed decisions about the design and management of public space as well enable environments to be more responsive.

According to BI Intelligence, the amount of devices comprising the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to grow to over 9 billion by in 2018. Some industry leaders have even estimated IoT devices will exceed one trillion by 2022. Either way the growth of these devices is staggering. Designers of the urban environment will soon be faced with the issues of how and if to incorporate and utilize the IoT Smart City infrastructure.

The humble and ubiquitous area light has undergone a considerable transformation itself over the last few years and could be the backbone making this future possible. As LED lighting is quickly becoming the de facto standard for new outdoor illumination and existing luminaires are being replaced with LED fixtures everyday to reduce energy consumption, lighting’s power systems are aligning with those of electronic systems. This commonality and conversion may be the key to accelerating the proliferation of a Smart City sensor network by providing an existing platform for deploying it in the landscape. Imagine every light fixture having the potential to include a multitude of embedded sensors with access to the internet and the ability to communicate with one another and other devices.  Continue reading