WEEK 1: Foundations for the TechniCity

MOOC Summaries - TechniCity - Smart - Madrid Skyline with some of the most important and representative buildings of this city. People walking on the street using their smart phones.

WEEK 1: Foundations for the TechniCity

“Foundations… Thinking… Smart and Connected…From Smart Grids to Smart Cities… Mesh Networks…” 


  • Context: Foundations of the TechniCity
  • Context: Thinking Cities
  • Context: Smart and Connected
  • Context: From Smart Grids to Smart Cities
  • Case Study: Mesh Networks

Context: Foundations of the TechniCity

  • Large-scale urbanization is driving the need for innovation and new technologies.
  • Smart cities is about all the ways technology can be used to:
    • improve the quality of life for people;
    • improve the efficiency of services;
    • and support the quality of our environment (e.g. healthy, clean).
  • Three concrete examples of how technology can be integrated into our cities to allow city planners and others to create smarter cities:
    • Making sure people can move through our cities (e.g. using video cameras to count pedestrians and analyze the video feed)
    • Capturing surveillance video t0 identify when traffic rule violations happen, enabling citations to be sent to the violators.
    • Helping people understand their level of water consumption, or how it compares to others.
  • We have to think holistically to have smart city planning as the different elements are all connected.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://class.coursera.org/techcity-004/lecture

Context: Thinking Cities

  • Network society city index: ranks cities from around the world based on their ability to transform technology into social, economic, and environmental benefits.
  • Research shows that the bigger the city, the more it has of everything, whether it is wages or AIDS cases or crime, or patents.
  • The important thing to recognize about cities is that:
    • on the one hand, the exponential urbanization is the origin of the feeling of a tsunami of problems;
    • on the other hand, the great thing about cities is that they are vacuum cleaners or magnets that suck up human creativity, ideas, culture.
  • So whereas on the one hand the problems are generated in cities, the solution is going to be generated in cities.
  • It is of great urgency that we understand cities in a profound and predictive fashion, and today, for the first time, our cities are becoming like real-time control system.
  • Technology is now becoming itemized, distributed, and radically changing the way we interface with the city – it means that the city, all the buildings, all the objects are starting to respond to us, to talk back to us.
  • Visionary mayors who get it, are incredibly enthusiastic about the future of cities, and are very enthusiastic about introducing ICT tools into city management.
  • Case study of  Stockholm, Sweden, which makes it as easy as possible for people to live in a smart and sustainable way.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://class.coursera.org/techcity-004/lecture

Context: Smart and Connected

  • Important to take multidisciplinary approach as we are thinking about the future of cities and the relationship to new technologies.
  • Science of cities: lots of different kind of data and information that can be collected, analyzed and used to make better decisions.
  • If we want to address sustainability issues, cities are not a bad place to start: how the world cities develop their infrastructure over the next 30 years will determine the future path of global warming.
  • Research explores whether there are mathematical formulas that can be applied to cities development e.g. if you double the population of a city, the infrastructure increases by 85% (the 15% efficiency is a scaling effect i.e. do not need to double the amount of infrastructure to support twice the number of people).
  • This formula also seems to hold for other dimensions e.g. wages, GDP, productivity, the number of super creatives in the city (defined by number of patents).
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://class.coursera.org/techcity-004/lecture

Context: From Smart Grids to Smart Cities

  • Smart grid provides the foundation for different systems and for liveability in a smart city.
  • If you’re going to look at the components of a smart city, the two most essential and most fundamental are energy and telecommunications – they go hand-in-hand in a smart grid.
  • There are three aspects
    • collecting information about the city’s conditions;
    • communicating those conditions to where it matters;
    • crunching the data to create insights and value.
  • Smart grids and smart cities give citizens and businesses in that region a competitive advantage.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://class.coursera.org/techcity-004/lecture

Case Study: Mesh Networks

  • Turn to technologies that make community networking possible e.g. mesh networks.
  • A network is just a collection of devices that talk to each other in order to move information or data from one point to another.
  • In a mesh network, the routing protocol chooses the route that can move the traffic most efficiently and most easily from one point to another (unlike a hub and spoke network where traffic has to go through a central point).
  • Advantages of mesh networks:
    • Anybody can add a node, and that node will automatically figure out how to talk to the other nodes in the network;
    • They are self-healing – if one node is removed or breaks, the network will figure out how to route traffic around it.
    • They are thus more resilient.
    • Multiple smaller mesh networks can also be joined together to make bigger networks, creating a network that is separate from the global Internet.
  • Local governments can encourage the development of neighborhood networks and then help link them together into one system.
  • Case study: guifi.net, arguably the largest community network in the world.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of https://class.coursera.org/techcity-004/lecture

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