Piccadilly Circus, Time Square, Ginza. You name these places and you used to get the image of huge, pixellated, video displays. They captured the people attention. Nowadays many areas in many cities have these huge displays, most are used for advertisment, with a bit of space reserved for news.
The technology has lowered the cost of wall sized display and increased their quality so that you can stand not far from the display and still see the image (rather than a collection of pixels).
Totems have also sprung up in many cities, in squares and commercial centers, at bus stops and inside offices open to the public. Clearly totems are a bit more personal than a big vidiwall. This latter can be used to broadcast information to all passing by. A totem support direct interaction hence it can deliver customised information. Totems are losing their glamour because of smart phones that could serve as very personal totem.
The totem, differently from asking citizens to use their own terminal, has a physicity and a visibility that a cell phone does not have. This is why Municipalities may elect to deploy a few totems around the city. They can also serve as beacon for data download creating a wifi area and hosting local storage. They can also act as charging stations for smart phones and contactless data transfer.
These are all places that can provide citizens with an enhanced perception of what is going on. Only few cities, so far, like Singapore, Minneapolis…have taken the road to show the “status” of the city to its citizenship through large open air display. It is something that should be considered since it is a very good way not just to spread information, also to ensure that the same information is shared, as an experience by many.
In Trento, as EIT Digital, we are considering doing this, within a project just started leveraging on the FIWare platform creating applications that access the Trentino Open Data.