Why Installing Sensors Will Help Your Residents

Chicago collects real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure and operations to increase efficiency.

What Happened?

A network of interactive sensors will be installed throughout Chicago to collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure and operations. The data gathered can be analyzed for research and public use to increase government efficiency and quality of life for residents.


Started by researchers at the University of Chicago, the Array of Things project will gather real-time data throughout the city using interactive modular sensor boxes. The technology will track Chicago’s:
  • Environmental changes
  • Infrastructure data
  • Resident and business activity

The data collected will be analyzed for research purposes as well as guide decision making by public agencies.

The data collection project is designed to extract key insights of how the city’s natural and built environment impacts the livability and quality of life for residents. The information gathered will be made available to:

  • Residents
  • Software developers
  • Scientists
  • Policymakers

The goal is for all members of the community to work together when analyzing the information to implement data-driven solutions to common problems or proactive improvements to boost livability in Chicago. The researchers expect the experiment to offer actionable insight in a wide range of industries including urban science, technology research, social sciences and education.

What Is Being Collected?

The Array of Things project will be gathering a variety of information through the strategically placed sensor boxes such as:
  • Air quality
  • Weather conditions
  • Traffic patterns
  • Pedestrian volumes
  • Ambient volume
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Surface temperature
  • Wireless device tracker

The data gathered can then be used to guide decision making by residents, organizations and policymakers. For example, the samples can be used to help city officials plan more effective transit infrastructure to reduce traffic congestion. Or they can help determine the impact of air quality controls. Perhaps assist a commuter on how to get to work faster and more safely at different times of the day.

Smart Citizen

Another similar project is run by Smart Citizen and aims to connect individual citizens with key data from their surrounding communities. The data collection and analysis platform provides residents and policymakers with important information to improve efficiency and quality of life.

The Smart Citizen platform uses geolocation and wireless internet devices to incorporate technology into the everyday lives of residents, community resources and urban development projects. The project spans major cities worldwide, placing the data-collecting tasks in the hands of individual users. The technology allows users to gather information from sensors in the community onto their mobile devices and then analyze the findings with free software.

Underground Lab

Also testing solutions for future city development, Bristol has plans to create a living research laboratory within 100 miles of underground street infrastructure. The project will use high-capacity fibre and telecommunications equipment to create an incubator environment where tech startups can test new products and services on a protected network. Research areas include:
  • Future mobile networks
  • Apps
  • Traffic flow
  • Pollution control
  • Driverless cars
  • Smart power grids
  • Remote healthcare

The laboratory will mimic city-scale conditions to help researchers determine if the solutions being tested can offer benefits to a modern society, the Financial Times reported.

World of Sensors

Gov1 has reported on several uses of smart sensor technology that aid in identifying inefficiencies and increasing savings.

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