Real Time Rome, social cartographies

Real Time Rome, SENSEable City, real_time_rome.jpg

Can map making open the way to a more sustainable future? This is the aim of Real Time Rome, the SENSEable City Lab contribution to the 2006 Venice Biennale. SENSEable City Laboratory is an initiative that studies the impact of new technologies on cities and this project utilizes data gathered, in real time and at an unprecedented scale, from wireless technologies in order to get a better understanding of the patterns of daily life in Rome. The data are obtained and elaborated anonymously from mobile phones, GPS devices on transports, and other wireless mobile devices, using advanced algorithms developed by Telecom Italia, the principal sponsor of the project. Real Time Rome features on display seven animations projected on transparent screens, showing at once traffic congestion around the city, buses and taxis movements or Romans celebrating big events like the World Cup. Carlo Ratti, director of Real Time Rome team, believes that this type of visualizations will help reducing the inefficiencies of contemporary urban systems . “Imagine – says Ratti – being able to avoid traffic congestion, or knowing where people are congregating on a Saturday afternoon. In a worst-case scenario, such real time systems could also make it easier to evacuate a city in case of emergency.”. Real Time Rome is a new kind of mapmaking that together with other interactive maps based on massive databases, like Google Earth, allows people to conduct highly customized searches and visualize them in real time. Digital technologies and their applications, in fact, allow people to take a new control over the territory and the practice of social mapping is the guideline towards the construction of a new sense of space.

Valentina Culatti