December 2008

OZCHI 2008 [ ] was attended by over 130 delegates from Australia and overseas, and incorporated high quality papers, demos, workshops, tutorials, panels, and keynotes embedded in inspiring social activities and against the beautiful, tropical environment of Cairns and Palm Cove. The Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics: The Practice and Promise of the Real-Time City [ ], was officially launched at OZCHI 2008 by my colleague Associate Professor Bharat Dave [ ]. I could not have imagined a more appropriate person to launch the book, since Bharat’s transdisciplinary background spans the city and the technology aspects of urban informatics perfectly, and this is also demonstrated by his team’s work in the Critical Research in Digital Architecture [ ] group at The University of Melbourne. The main prize of the raffle at the conference closing ceremony was a copy of the book, and Floyd Mueller [ ] was the lucky winner. Congrats Floyd!

Posted by:  Marcus Foth

Sony Computer Science Laboratory’s (Paris) project aims to investigate how the general public uses their GPS-enabled mobile phones to participate in noise pollution monitoring.

Mobile phones are used as noise sensor devices, effectively creating a network of human sensors that can be used to inform urban dwellers about their personal noise pollution exposure.

Users are able to tag the quantitative data collected through their phone with qualitative data including information such as the activities that were taking place nearby and their feelings about the noise.

This geolocalised information will then be used to create real-time map-based visualisations of noise pollution.

NoiseTube has been created in the spirit of open participation and collaboration.

Its code is open source and its developers encourage feedback and new feature requests.

Instructions on how to participate in the project, which starts in Nov/Dec 2008, have been strategically placed on Instructables, effectively taking advantage of the site’s active community of interest and its radiating online social networks for distribution.

The project aims to generate findings that will be useful to citizens and their community, local government, urban planners, researchers and application developers, essentially creating a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

NoiseTube is representative of an emerging genre of research projects that can be described as “participatory urbanism” or “citizen science” (Paulos 2009).

Another notable project in this genre is Cityware (Kostakos and O’Neill 2009).

I discuss a set of design requirements for these emerging form of research tools in my OZCHI 2008 paper “Designing social tools for the bees, the buzz and the beehive” (Button 2008).

This paper aims to generate discussion in regard to a design intervention that can not only facilitate the collection, visualisation and analysis of data for researchers, but also promote social connectivity among diverse urban residents.

Many questions remain to be answered about these exciting developments.

For example:

•    How can we motivate diverse participants?
•    How can we overcome public concerns in relation to privacy and surveillance?
•    How can such a system be designed to be socially inclusive in a highly diverse urban environment?

We look forward to hearing your thoughts…


Button, A. 2008. Designing social tools for the bees, the buzz and the beehive. In: Australasian
Computer-Human Interaction Conference 2008, 8-12 December 2008. Cairns, Queensland, Australia: James Cook University.

Kostakos, V. and E. O’Neill. 2009. Cityware: Urban computing to bridge online and real-world
social networks. In Handbook of research on urban informatics: The practice and promise of the real-time city, ed. M. Foth, 196-205. Hershey, PA: IGI Global, Information Science Reference.

Paulos, E. 2009. Citizen science: Enabling participatory urbanism. In Handbook of research on
urban informatics: The practice and promise of the real-time city, ed. M. Foth, 414-436.
Hershey, PA: IGI Global, Information Science Reference.

Posted By:  Angela Button

It’s been quiet in blog land this week, only a couple of things to report.

One interesting post on “Thoughts on Architecture” called
“ShowCase: The Mondri and Elano Hotel”
ShowCase is an on-going feature on this blog; it often posts about new and exciting work from designers that represent all creative fields and all geographies relating to Architecture.

Recently Angela Button emailed us all about “Mapmania” and “I feel London” here is their links again.
Will 2009 be the year in which all things ‘contextual’, ‘app’, ‘local’, ‘urban’, ‘tags’, ‘lidar’, ‘smartphone’, ‘convenience’, ‘Cell ID’, ‘spontaneity’, ‘infolust’, and ‘GPS’ come together in one orgasmic celebration of map-based tracking, finding, knowing and connecting?
Mood maps for London, New York and Toronto. Find things to do when you are feeling X.

Posted by: Joel Fredericks

A couple of interesting post this week in the land of blogs, first one that I came across was “Mobilisable at Arts Deco In Paris” posted on “Pasta & Vinegar” 3rd Decemeber 2008. This was a conference held in Paris called “Mobilisable” that was organised at the “Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs”.  Nicolas Nova the author of “Pasta & Vinegar” attended the conference; his post discusses how the conference was a scientific and art event focussing on mobility and the hybirdization of technologies, environments, objects and people.  Nicolas further discusses how the event highlighted issues relating to interaction design, new media art and new mapping forms.
There is a detailed  report of the conference posted on Nicolas’s blog, check it out.

Secondly Dan Hill from the “City of Sound” blog had a post back on August 22, 2008 about wi-fi at the State Library of Queensland called “Post-occupancy evaluations of public wi-fi”.  Dan was researching the usage patterns of wi-fi from various quantitative and qualitative perspectives.  His recent post on November 08, 2008 called “Wi-fi structures and people shapes” ( follows up on his initial research where he has collaborated a series of sketch ups showing constructed snapshots of wi-fi signal strength around the library.

Posted by: Joel Fredericks

I came across these two You Tube posts, I know its not directly related to our research however I thought it was interesting.

The Informatics Forum is a new building for the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.  This building was specifically designed for interaction; it incorporates aesthetically pleasing views with large open spaces for people to interact and communicate.

The Informatics Forum is a centre for innovation, interaction and research that creates an environment for creative thinking and communication.  The facilities available for this building include meeting rooms for workshops, recording studios and a robotics centre, just to name a few.
Check out the two You Tube videos I have posted below and hopefully this would have been of some interest to you.

Posted by: Joel Fredericks