Some of the lamp poles on the streets of Chicago will be decorated with hi-tech metal adornments. But what may seem to be an embellishment, hides a complex system of sensors underneath. The system will collect an extended environmental information including air quality, noise level and temperature. But what is more important — these sensors will also estimate pedestrian traffic by monitoring the number of cell phones nearby. Gathered information will be then made public for developers to create «all sorts of applications taking advantage of the data, including, hopefully, ones we never would have thought of,» said Charlie Catlett, the director of the Urban Center for Computation and Data. The project called the Array of Things may also help the government to monitor the condition of the city and undertake necessary measures to improve life quality in the city area.
The idea of being monitored seems alarming at first glance, but the researchers from UrbanCCD reassure the public that all the gathered data is completely depersonalized. The system has no implemented device that would allow to record conversations or make pictures, and any new technology that will be added to the sensors later on is to be approved by a board of independent experts.
In the long run, Array of Things may improve the life in urban areas and become a big step in urban planning, but we all know where the road that's paved with good intentions usually leads.