Peter Hirschberg (former head of marketing at Apple) will be joining class and discuss ambient data and smart cities. Check out As always, please post your thoughts ahead of time on

From PiratePad:
(pasted old revision b/c somehow it disappeared earlier) - someone? ^_^

Hello class!

PAST: Sensors on 101
PRESENT: Tracking mobiles (with what application? GPS data is unidirectional. There is a need of an app reporting data to a server. IPhone still do not have background apps)
(Nokia phones was running a study through Berkeley to do traffic measurement) Around 2009 - but not many use Nokia phones comparatively in US.


sense networks

CitySense - take cell data and maps to 'hotspots'
CitySourced - Civil Issue Reporter - upload city-wide problems
. SJ didn't like unattended problems in public view
. Insights: when kids are out of school, there's more graffiti
Too bad in this "new age" data is publically available more and more. Can SJ "sue" CitySourced to take data down? Probably not.

problem: forcing ppl to check in

Just putting data in front of people affect how people behave.
Ex:Google with Energy consumptionin the house
Energy effecincy in car dashboards

Google PowerMeter
. Tax ineffective in reducing E use, power metering was
. . wasn't there some recent news/issue about power meters sensors being not cost effective or useless

Philips "fitbit" like box

Media is the message. - Marshall McLuhan
Public view in a "global village" modifies behavior.
Whenever I jot notes on my laptop it's assumed I'm not paying attention.

. phones should just be passively doing this as a background task. These are our "pocket sensors".

TV shows will migrate to even more reality TV.
,- They are cheap to produce =) Sadly true
. integrate local (mobile?) behavior with real-time TV show

interesting how density of people makes a difference on non slacking off
(Prius is another good example of feedback loop)

Path Intelligence (
Cell phone tracking of conference participants, HMM analysis. Sales drops on butt rush.
NEJM: Smoking cessation improved within participatory clusters.

Network Neighbors (
"Audience Selection for On-line Brand Advertising: Privacy-friendly Social Network Targeting"

time scales

LinkedIn / FB: hanging out with the wrong set?

MIT sensable city: gps track trash from NYC to NJ dump.
. Recycling at the cost of transport

"our cabs, our trash, our cell phones have more to say about us than we do ourselves"
(Andreas likes the TRASH best!)

SocialCompact (non-profit to breakdown barriers for private investment in inner-city neighborhoods)
(public data and what else?)
E.g., in FL, more African Americans that they though!

New Market: When everyone's doing it and nobody knows how to talk about it
e.g. IBM naming E-business (for e-commerce)
New trend in "instrumenting cities with sensors"

Foreclosure data in Detroit ( -> Interesting API to do something like that: (API is written in ASPX)
Foreclosures based in areas where more credit usage vs neighborhoods that used all "cash" (aka informal economy)
Kaitlin Duck Sherwood correlated Starbucks locations with Obama support.
Chris Hughes, City Sourced

Have class share other potential sources of data they think can be valuable to draw insights.
(Can be used for next year's problem sets)
- Cell phone wireless location measurement
- Phone call destinations
- Self-reported city data

What is most def cool is that sharing gang data might be hazardous to your health
1987 movie: Amazon of the moon
- Privacy concerns even then!

netflix prize data -- we had the FB dude talk about that too.

Marshall McLuhan

I disagree that privacy was unknown in Shakespeare's times.
"Privacy started because of reading books" (?)

Gray Area Foundation for the Arts
(associated with Peter Hirschberg)

Sounds like Noah? yeah, it's me talking about who wrote shakespeare. (shakespeare was done by wiki!) lolz.
I think that what we’re looking at is that there was not need for privacy because there was no means of distributing or gathering a large amount of information.

Without the potential to share all of the information, the concept of privacy is void.

It requires that there be information to share as to whether or not that information is private or public; until the information exists, there is no privacy.

Open Government (data) - cab, crime, craigslist
Stamen Design (scraping crime data) - Oakland Crimespotting (I was looking for that website!!! I thought it was great!)
(Eric Rodenbeck - "Citizen Empowerment")

PG&E merging GIS data with power usage data. (but not making it publicly available)
PG&E also told customers what energy consumption percentile they were relative to their neighborhood. Angry customers led them to shut it down.

You're in a bubble when: late night informercials pick it up.
. maybe we can ask customers to let us "screen scrape" their power usage via PG&E (kind of like Blippy)

SF - City App Store (gov't 2.0) - DataSF.ORG
NYC Big Apps contest

EasyBloom - sunlight & moisture measurement device you can download to computer.
They should have just made a WiFi-enabled device (like that Twitter moisture measurement electronic someone made 1 year ago).

Class Wiki - 5/25

Today's Speaker: Peter Hirschberg
  • Former Head of Marketing Apple

Today's Focus: Ambient Data Sources
  • Data generated by electronic devices and machines
  • Not socially created
  • Too much ambient data are being cast off
  • There is great value in such implicit data
  • Sacramento used ambient data to reduce energy usage by 2%


  • NYTE (New York Talk Exchange) by MIT
  • Amsterdam Text Pulses
  • Rome Public Transit Map

Web Sites:
  • CitySense
    • What's hot based geographically on cell phone signals
    • See how people in Rome were using public transport using cellular data
  • Buzzd
    • What's hot using tweets
  • FourSquare
    • Active check-in to broadcast your location
    • Explicit data
  • CitySourced
    • Allows people to file municipal complaints through an app
    • For example, it is found that graffiti is most when kids are out of school

Participatory Culture
  • People like to be engaged - react to games
  • Examples:
    • Singapore Power - give people feedback mechanisms in order to reduce power usage
    • Google Power Meter
    • Toyota Prius
    • Fitbit

Marshall McLuhan

Data Mining from Ambient Sources
  • Smoking Behaviour - gathered slowly from a National Institute of Health study in Boston of a few years in the 1980s
    • Showed a fast drop in smokers in more densely populated areas
    • Smokers moved into clusters on the perimeter of dense populations
  • Path Intelligence
  • Butt Rush
  • Trash Track

Social Compact
  • Mine alternate data sources for urban development
  • Example sources: Soda Consumption, Garbage Output (to justify the carbon output necessary to transport e-trash)
  • Results: Using the inverse relationship between the informal economy and foreclosures, showed a 90% larger number of African Americans living in area than the census claimed

Foreclosure Data from Detroit
  • Showed the informal economy


People attempt to maintain their privacy
  • People unwilling to share data unless there is justified reason
  • Guardian Phone

Citizen Empowerment to use the data available

Growth of other city data sources

Eshan Singh:
Yexiang Tan: