While walking around the City during one of our many Reinvent expeditions , we noticed things that we haven't paid attention to before.

First of all, we were surprised how many payphones there still are. None of us can remember the last time we used one.  To us, they were billboards that happen to make calls.

We also noticed that the City took pains to preserve the look of certain neighborhoods.

Union Square for instance.  It still had traditional lampposts. And even modern additions, like the Digital Display on top of the subway station entrance, were camouflaged not to draw attention to themselves.

And that's one reason why we went for modularity and chose to even have a bare-bones, plate-only configuration.

Why?

In Union Square, we envision several plate-only DWs talking wirelessly to mated devices.  Why, the City can even go for a "nostalgia" deployment that uses a turn-of-the-century phonebooth instead of the modern pole configuration we designed.

Perhaps, an NYCDataWell sticker, similar to the ubiquitous Wifi stickers can be used to let people know that DW services are available even in an unconventional, camouflaged location.

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In our view, CUSP is going to be to New York City, what Stanford was to Silicon Valley - becoming the engine for Urban Informatics Innovation as it defines the "Science of Cities."

And its roster of partners is very impressive - big household names that can bring to bear tremendous resources, vastly accelerating this process.

We feel that part of the Gov 2.0 proposition is to get people away from thinking of "Government as a Vending Machine". And by actively engaging specialized communities like Developers, Civic Hackers, Students and Researchers using the DataWell as a source of information but also a target of Innovation.

But what about "regular citizens?"  They too can play a part, just by using the NYCDataWell Launcher app, regular citizens can also contribute.  How?

When we imagined the Launcher app, we also thought that the City, and CUSP in particular can use it as a "Pocket Lab."  After all, current mobile devices are bristling with sensors, and perhaps, the local Maker community (we're looking at you ITP and AdaFruit) can even create a whole slew of external instrumentation packages that citizens can deploy not only on their current smartphones, but also on their old ones.

The Launcher App will have the ability to run these CUSP experiments in the background.

Imagine CUSP publishing research packages that citizens can sign up for:

  • ambient noise measurement
  • walking pace for each neighborhood
  • hyperlocalized commute times, that they can use to fine-tune public transportation resource allocation
  • and with a weather package, maybe old smartphones can be deployed as micro-weather stations indoors and outdoors
  • the possibilities are just limitless!

And why would citizens sign up for these experiments?  They can then see the data, and how they compare with the population.  It will even have the side benefit of "behaviorally nudging" them to modify their behavior for the better.

As we pointed out in the Naming Scheme post, we gave each DataWell a "friendly" name.   Why?

  • To honor local residents and
  • As a way to "friend" DWs around the City.

And why would you want to be "friends" with a DataWell?

  • To track the hyperlocalized KNIs (Key Neighborhood Indicators) through a particular DW's website.
  • For wayfinding
  • For tracking hyperlocal offers and postings
  • For checkpointing

If you read "An NYCDataWell Story", you'll see how the Urbina family "friends" DWs throughout the City.  To track what's happening near work, school, the community center, and Abuela's nursing home.

As we keep exploring scenarios in this section of the site, you'll see how the Befriending concept plays a crucial part in the NYCDataWell proposition.