Smart cities and Tech Evolution - XXXVII - The Data Fabric

Data have become a fabric upon which applications are build and value is created. The same data fabric can serve a variety of applications in different fields. Credit: Hitachi

Data have been considered (along with Turing idea of computation) as input or output. They are outside of the network. Well, my idea is that once you have a lot of interconnected data they are not just becoming part of the infrastructure, they actually are an infrastructure. 

In tomorrows’ cities data will be the crucial infrastructure, a fabric, supporting services and creating the ambient in which services and people will thrive. Data will be more than a cyber-representation of our cities, They will be an integral part of the city.

Take as an example a self driving car. That car will clearly make use of a variety of city data (its streets layout, the traffic load in specific areas, the presence of accident and roadwork, the goal of its passengers matched with the resources of the city -who has what you want to buy…). Now imagine that all cars are self driving cars.

They will negotiate among themselves what is the optimal way of using the streets and you will see the traffic topology dyanmically changing. What was half a hour ago a two way street has now become a one way street with cars going North, and may be in half a hour it will be a one way street of cars heading South.

Data are reshaping our perception of the city and of our presence in it. By looking at tweets, calls, messages we discover the hidden social infrastrucutres and we could even gauge the mood of the city, the interplay of its physical and social infrastructures. By mixing atoms and bits we relate to the city in a way that wasn’t possibile before, although we had some glimpse of this in the past. Have you ever had the opportunity of looking at a city neighbour, architecture, monument through the eyes of an engaging and experienced guide? You would have notice that seeing the city through those eyes bring a completely new level of experience and perception.  Bits can magically mix the present and the past, what is out there and what is inside you, what is you and what is you in a social community.

This is what EIT Digital has started to do. With 3cixty, that targeted Milan and its 2015 EXPO, and now London and Nice, tomorrow any city in the world. 

I have the feeling that this seamless mixture of atoms and bits is for the first time upon us, and if I have to bet on what this period will be remembered in the future it will be this. 

I mentioned in a previous post the evolution of cities paradigm from machines to living organisms. IoT, ambient awareness, holistic and personalised experience, all made possible by ICT, and it is happening now, it is here to stay. The abundance of processing capacity has actually shifted our focus on data.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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