The Sigurd Grava Symposium on Infrastructure


Friday, November 4th, 2011, 9AM – 5PM
Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall, Columbia University
*Registration is not required but adds you to our email list and helps us plan.


There is more data in the world than ever before, and there will soon be far more. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) , “In 2011 alone, 1.8 zettabytes (or 1.8 trillion gigabytes) of data will be created, the equivalent to every U.S. citizen writing 3 tweets per minute for 26,976 years.” New data collected from embedded devices in common items such as clothing, cell phones, vehicles, roads, buildings and anything else you can think of will fundamentally change the way we plan, finance and move about our cities.

Over the last several years many private and public sector agencies have been interested in how data, social media, mobile technologies, and data visualization can help us plan for an manage our urban environments. IBM has coined the term “Smart Cities” to describe the recent development in this area, while CISCO calls it “Intelligent Cities”.

BitCity is how we describe the recent conversation about the possibilities to use data and technology to enhance our cities. On the most basic level a “bit” is at the core of recent discussions around how data and technology can enhance our cities because it is “the basic unit of information in computing and telecommunications”. It’s our increased capacity to store, communicate, and visualize our everyday lives in the form of bits that has renewed a conversation about how data can be used to plan and manage the future of our cities.

The BitCity debates are meant to expose innovation and innovators, highlight the current state of research, and provide room for a conversation about the policy needs and implementation barriers for using data and technology in planning our cities.

This first in our series of BitCity debates will provide historical precedents for this debate and focus on current applications as they relate to transportation. We have focused BitCity: 2011 on transportation because of the field’s strong links to data and technology. Many examples have already been developed by planners, engineers, logistics firms and software developers giving us an opportunity to present and analyze them at BitCity 2011.

David King, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning
Sarah Williams, Co-Director of the Spatial Information Design Lab AT gmail DOT com

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