Each academic year, the SENSEable City Lab invites students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to participate in the Digital City Design Workshop. The workshop seeks to provide pragmatic, technological solutions that address a key concern of urban living.

The below video provides a concise overview of the projects developed in the 2012 Digital City Design Workshop. The projects were carried out in collaboration with the State of Rio de Janeiro and the World bank and the results were showcased during the Rio+20 Summit in the Rio Central Station.


Project brief

Students focused on issues related to mobility in the metropolitan area and the brief that guided the design process was articulated in the following key points:

Coordination of mobility

Fifty percent of the city's travel is undertaken on public transport, with an additional one third made by foot or bicycle. Although there are high levels of public transit use, private automobile use is also growing rapidly, as highways have enabled suburban sprawl throughout the metropolitan region. New forms of coordination between the region's many, and often competing, transit operators will be necessary to improve route and scheduling resources. In this regard, Rio has recently introduced the 'Bilhete Unico' smartcard system that reduces the barriers to intermodal travel.

Zones of transition

The projects should focus on "zones of transition" between the formal and informal, whether it is settlements, transportation, or socio-economic groups.

Connecting layers of digital information and the physical urban fabric

Project interventions should improve access to information by employing widely accessible digital technologies for the sharing of knowledge among and between citizens, authorities, mobility systems, and urban infrastructure.

Along the lines of the brief, the seven students that participated in the Rio de Janeiro workshop developed a series of adaptive urban systems that point to new opportunities for mobility in Rio.


We are interested in knowing what you think of these projects as we prepare for our next steps in realizing some of them. Please leave your comments on the youtube page of this video.