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Senseable City Lab News
Project in the Spotlight

In the absence of a formalized, pervasive recycling system how does the informal sector service the city?

Brazil has a long history of informal recycling cooperatives, whose members often try to make a living by collecting recyclable material in the city and sell it in bulk to industry. In the recent years, informal economies of waste pickers have received much attention from the academic community, especially in the fields of policy, economics and anthropology. And yet the spatial organization is still poorly understood – not only by academics but also by the cooperatives themselves. The Cooperatives usually operate on a tacit knowledge – little data is available about their work processes. As a result, much knowledge gets lost in the process when experienced workers leave the cooperative, and collection happens in a poorly coordinated way.

Forage Tracking seeks to map the tacit knowledge and spatial organization of informal recyclers. Using location-detecting hardware and software this research investigates how Catadores, informal recyclers in Brazilian cities, find and collect material in the city. It also seeks to develop participatory platforms that will help them to organize their activities and connect the cooperative to the citizens.

For further information see Forage Tracking.


The new phenomenon of extreme commuting is investigated in the United Cities of America, using aggregated, anonymous data from the AT&T cellphone network. Depicting commuting patterns in eight major US urban areas, it reveals the basins of attraction for these cities.

The Lab is to paticipate at the semi-annual workshop for the Center for Complex Engineering Systems of KACST and MIT. The Lab will present on its current research on an integrated platform for understanding traffic and demographics in real time.
The Lab hosted a Symposium on Public Space and Social Media, co-organized by the Austrian artistic research project Public Space 2.0. During the event participants presented and discussed their work on urban sensing devices together with researchers from the Senseable City Lab and Columbia University.

How persistent are boundaries over time? Using the partitioning algorithm developed as part of the UK Borders research, we have been applying it to recently digitized historical data from the 19th century census. Fundamentally examining how the human network has changed over a century in the UK.

A chapter entitled Standardised Geo-sensor Webs for Integrated Urban Air Quality Monitoring has recently been published in Environmental Monitoring by InTech. A preview is available here.
The Lab is organizing a design workshop with the International Design school for Advanced Studies (IDAS) of Seoul, Korea. Senseable will lead several groups of graduate students on digital media projects to enhance the quality of life in Seoul, focusing on areas of health, education, and information access.
  • 8-9th March, Lab hosting a workshop with Fraunhofer Institute at MIT, Boston.
  • 13-18th March, Digital Design Workshop site visits to Madrid, Moscow and Rio de Janeiro.
  • 21st March, Carlo Ratti to present at Ecobuild, London.
  • 22nd March, Carlo Ratti to present at the Economist's conference, Technology Frontiers, London.
  • 25th March, Senseable City Lab will be joining Rem Koolhaas for the mid term reviews at the Strelka Institute.
  • 29th March, Carlo Ratti to give a lecture at the Politecnico di Milano.
  • 29th March, Assaf Biderman to present at 2012 MIT Brazil Challenge of Innovation Conference in Florianopolis, Brazil.
  • 30th March, Carlo Ratti to talk at the Economist's Future Cities event, Moscow.
  • 3rd April, Carlo Ratti presenting at Il Conagesp, Brasilia.
  • Esquire presents the Senseable City Lab's work on the United Cities of America.
  • CNN covers the Senseable City Lab's CO2GO project in Hacking the City for a Greener Future.
  • Coverage of the Future of Cities workshop hosted by David Cameron and Nick Clegg and attended by amongst others Carlo Ratti, Richard Rogers, and Bjarke Ingels in the World Architecture News and The Times.
  • Carlo Ratti joins a team of leading thinkers to discuss challenges and opportunities of urbanization in the Networked Society in Ericsson's documentary Thinking Cities.
  • The Digital Creative City, a project that includes Carlo Ratti and Dennis Frenchman has been touted as the Hollywood of Digital Creativity, receiving wide coverage in, Guadalajara Reporter, and El Economista.


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