Residents of Italy's capital
entered a new era on Saturday night as they turned their cell phones on.
In a technological leap, a
futuristic urban map made its debut, featuring the dynamics of the city in real
time. The map project, known as "Wiki City Rome," is continuously fed
data through wireless technology such as cell phones and global positioning
systems on city buses and taxis.
Developed by the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the project was launched during Rome's Notte Bianca (White Night), an all-night festival
of 400 events, which drew about 2.5 million people in Rome's streets.
Matching the pulsing flow
of activities, a big screen display in one of Rome's main squares showed a continuously
changing picture of the city.
Red, yellow and green lights overlaid over a map of the city reflected the
movements of hundreds of thousands of people, the real-time position of city
buses and taxis, and crowds at the most popular events.
Anyone with an Internet connection
was able to follow the unique map of the city and experience "a new
awareness of how Romans move within their city in response to exceptional pulse
of activities," said Kristian Kloeckl, a researcher at MIT's SENSEable
City Laboratory in Cambridge,
according to Carlo Ratti, director of the SENSEable City Lab, can help people
to make more informed decisions about their surroundings, such as
"avoiding traffic congestions, or knowing where people are congregating on
a Saturday afternoon."
By Rossella Lorenzi