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Video: Urbanflow Helsinki

Urbanflow Helsinki is a concept done by Nordkapp and Urbanscale envisioning an operating system for cities. The scenario revolves primarily around situated urban screens and their potential uses.

According to Adam Greenfield from Urbanscale

Urbanflow supports our contention that whether municipal, commercial or citizen-generated, data only becomes understandable and usefully actionable when it’ s been designed: when it’ s been couched in carefully-considered cartography, iconography, typography and language.

We’ re bringing that design to bear on a few basic, map-based functions. These are things that we think ought to be useful for anyone encountering these screens as they move through the city ‘” quite possibly without smartphones and/or local data plans of their own.

The design desiderata are:

  • Journey planning and wayfinding/wayshowing. You should certainly be able to locate and orient yourself in the city as readily as you would when using the best conventional maps, then plan your way from your current location to any arbitrary point in the city.
  • Service discovery. You should be able to discover the existence and location of services of interest to you.
  • Reads on ambient data. You should be able to layer over these essential functions information that grounds and colors your use and understanding of them.
  • Citizen responsiveness. At the very least, you should be able to report the existence and severity of defaults, breakdowns and damage to municipal services and infrastructure, directly to the bodies empowered to deal with them.

Greenfield concludes that:

We believe that by providing these fundamental services, we can meaningfully improve the pedestrian experience, empower citizens and visitors with actionable knowledge about the place they’ re inhabiting, and in every way make the city more legible, more usable, more useful and more successful.

And although what you see in the video is strictly limited to the urban-screen scenario, Urbanflow only really makes sense when deployed across a variety of platforms and (you’ ll excuse the expression) touchpoints.

More info

Adam Greenfield – Introducing Urbanflow