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The following news articles are geared toward students and other professionals.
New Technology
Linking a 1940′s Radio to the Internet of Things Print E-mail
Sunday, 02 March 2014 14:58

In the corner of our apartment we have an old 1940′s radio, picked up a few years ago the original valves had already been removed, leaving it modified with a then transistor radio. As such it made the perfect project to remodify and bring up to date via a mix of an embedded blue tooth speaker (in our case a Bose SoundLink) and a Philips Hue for the internal lighting.

Radio linked to Philips Hue

Radio linked to Philips Hue

Using our current favourite Internet of Things service – If This Then That – the front light in the radio can be linked to any number of data feeds (see out post on IFTTT, Netatmo & Philips Hue: Linking Data to Lighting), at the moment it changes colour according to the outside temperature. The movie below shows the link to the Philips Hue and the iPhone BBC Radio App (ignore the cat, it decided to take part in every example i filmed):

While in nature quite a basic modification, it does give an old radio case a new lease of life. The link to the Philips Hue for the internal lighting opens up a number of possibilities, along with the options to link the audio output to any number of rules via IFTTT.

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Introducing the MSc and MRes Smart Cities at the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis Print E-mail
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 05:11

Learn the New Science of Cities at University College London with the MSc in Smart Cities at The Bartlett’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis from September 2014.

APPLY NOW FOR SEPTEMBER ENTRY 

MSc Smart Cities

As Course Director, i am pleased to announce the new MSc and MRes in Smart Cities, here at the The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. Both the MSc and MRes offer an innovative and exciting opportunity to study at UCL – with key training for a new career in the emerging Smart Cities market. Smart cities are focused on how computers, data, and analytics which consist of models and predictions, are being embedded into cities. Cities  currently are being extensively wired, thus generating new kinds of control and new kinds of services, which are producing massive data streams – ‘big data’.  To this end, we need powerful analytics to make sense of this new world with a new skill set to understanding and lead this new field.

CASA

The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) is one of the leading forces in the science of cities, generating new knowledge and insights for use in city planning, policy and design and drawing on the latest geospatial methods and ideas in computer-based visualisation and modelling.

CASA’s focus is to be at the forefront of what is one of the grand challenges of 21st Century science: to build a science of cities from a multidisciplinary base, drawing on cutting edge methods, and ideas in modeling, complexity, visualisation and computation. Our current mix of architects, geographers, mathematicians, physicists, urban planners and computer scientists make CASA a unique department within UCL.

Our vision is to be central to this new science, the science of smart cities, and relate it to city planning, policy and architecture in its widest sense.

London - A Living Lab

London – A Living Lab

EDUCATIONAL AIMS OF THE PROGRAMME

The MSc Smart Cities and Urban Analytics comprises 180 credits which can be taken full-time over 12 months or on a flexible modular basis of up to 5 years duration (full details of the MRes structure can be found here.  If taken full time over one year, the following structure is followed:

TERM ONE

Smart Systems Theory
The module provides a comprehensive introduction to a theory and science of cities. Many different perspectives developed by urban researchers, systems theorists, complexity theorists, urban planners, geographers and transport engineers will be considered, such as spatial interactions and transport models, urban economic theories, scaling laws and the central place theory for systems of cities, growth, migration, etc., to name a few. The course will also focus on physical planning and urban policy analysis as has been developed in western countries during the last 100 years.

The class runs during term one, for two hours per week
Assessment is by coursework (2,500 – 3,000 words)

Quantitative Methods
This module will empower you with essential mathematical techniques to be able to describe quantitatively many aspects of a city. You will learn various methodologies, from traditional statistical techniques, to more novel approaches, such as complex networks. These techniques will focus on different scales and hierarchies, from the micro-level, e.g. individual interactions, to the macro-level, e.g. regional properties, taking into account both discrete and continuous variables, and using probabilistic and deterministic approaches. All these tools will be developed within the context of real world applications.

The class runs during term one, for two hours per week
Assessment is by a mix of presentations and coursework
Geographic Information Systems and Science
GI Systems and Science aims to equip students with an understanding of the principles underlying the conception, representation/measurement and analysis of spatial phenomena. It presents an overview of the core organising concepts and techniques of Geographic Information Systems, and the software and analysis systems that are integral to their effective deployment in advanced spatial analysis.The practical sessions in the course will introduce students to both traditional and emerging technologies in geographical information science through the use of desktop GIS software like Arc GIS and Quantum GIS, and the powerful statistical software environment, R. In developing technical expertise in these software tools, students will be introduced to real-world geographical analysis problems and, by the end of the course, will be able to identify, evaluate and process geographic data from a variety of different sources, analyse these data and present the results of the analysis using different cartographic techniques.

The class runs during term one, for three hours per week (one hour lecture followed by two a hour practical)

Assessment is by coursework (2,500 – 3,000 words) and via an exam

There is also an optional module selected from any other relevant 15 credit M-level module from UCL
Urban Data and Simulation

Urban Data and Simulation

TERM TWO
Smart Cities: Context, Policy and Governance
This module provides  a perspective of smart cities from the viewpoint of technology. It will provide a context for the development of smart cities through a history of computing, networks and communications, of applications of smart technologies, ranging from science parks and technopoles to transport based on ICT. The course will cover a wide range of approaches, from concepts of The Universal Machine, to Wired Cities and sensing techniques, spatio-temporal real time data applications, smart energy, virtual reality and social media in the smart city, to name a few.

This class runs during term two, for one and a half hours per week
Assessment is by coursework (2,500 – 3,000 words)

Spatial Data Theory, Storage and Analysis

This module introduces you to the tools needed to manipulate large datasets derived from Smart Cities data, from sensing, through storage and approaches to analysis. You will be able to capture and build data structures, perform SQL and basic queries in order to extract key metrics. In addition, you will learn how to use external software tools, such as R, Python, etc., in order to visualise and analyse the data. These database statistic tools will be complemented by artificial intelligence and pattern detection techniques, in addition to new technologies for big data.

The class runs during term two, for two hours per week
Assessment is by project output (5,000 – 6,000 words)

Urban Simulation
The module provides the key skills required  to construct and apply models in order to simulate urban systems. These are key in the development of smart cities technologies. You will learn different approaches, such as land-use transport interaction models, cellular automata, agent-based modelling, etc., and realise how these are fashioned into tools that are applicable in planning support systems, and how they are linked to big data and integrated data systems.  These models will be considered at different time scales, such as short-term modelling, e.g. diurnal patterns in cities, and long term models for exploring change through strategic planning.

The module runs during term two, for two hours per week
Assessment is by coursework (2,500 – 3,000 words)

The Hidden Data City

The Hidden Data City

TERM THREE

Dissertation
This dissertation marks the culmination of your studies and gives you the opportunity to produce an original piece of research making use of the knowledge gathered in the lectures. You will be guided throughout this challenge by your supervisor and with the support of the Course Director, and together you will decide the subject of research. This enterprise will enable you to create a unique, individual piece of work with an emphasis on data collection; analysis and visualisation linked to policy and social science oriented applications.

Assessment is by 10,000-12,000 words dissertation.

STAFF
The teaching staff are worlds leaders in the field from Professor Mike Batty MBE, through to Sir Alan Wilson – you can found out full details and staff profiles at our sub-site http://mscsmartcities.org/

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Ideally, you will already have a Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate subject such as Geography, GIS, Urban Planning, Architecture, Computer Science, Civil Engineering, Economics or a field related to the Built Environment though other subjects will be considered especially if you can demonstrate a keen interest in your personal statement to convince us you should be given a place. You’ll need to have obtained a 2.2 (or international equivalent) to join the MSc.

If you do not have a Bachelor’s degree, we can still consider you if you have a professional qualification and at least three years relevant experience, so don’t be put off applying if you fall into this category because the greater the mix of students we have on each course, the more interesting seminars and discussions are going to be.

HOW TO APPLY

You can apply for this course online or find out more at http://www.mscsmartcities.org  -  If you have any questions, you can contact our Teaching and Learning Administrator,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The course brochure can be download in pdf format (5Mb).

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IFTTT, Netatmo & Philips Hue: Linking Data to Lighting Print E-mail
Sunday, 02 February 2014 04:34

Here at The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis we run a simple dashboard view of the weather in London. The background of the dashboard changes colour to a variety of pantone shades according to temperature. Via our CEDE project we are starting to experiment with the Philips Hue Wifi Lighting System. With the ability to connect the bulbs to a network and select colours according to a hex colour –  the logical link was to link the bulbs to the weather data, allowing the lighting to change according to the external temperature and in sync with the web dashboard.

Philips Hue

Philips Hue

Once the bulbs are connected to the network there are a variety of third party services that can be used to control the bulbs, either as a group or individually. One of our current favourites here at CASA is IF This Then That (IFTTT), IFTTT is a service that allows the creation of simple ‘recipes’, linking popular online systems via a series of rules. Among the services linked on IFTTT is the Netatmo Weather Station and the Philips Hue.

Netatmo Weather Station

Netatmo Weather Station

We are using the Netatmo in CASA as part of our forthcoming office data dashboard, it monitors internal temperature, humidity, sound levels and carbon dioxide with an external unit providing temperature and humidity readings.

Colour Range

Colour Range

Our Colours Weather Dashboard changes its background every 5 degrees centigrade, as such via IFTTT it is possible to create a series of recipes using the same colour range and link it to a temperature reading from the external Netatmo unit.

If This Then That Recipes

If This Then That Recipes

IFTTT is an emerging service, as such it does have a number of limitations. We had to create a recipe for each temperature change, rather than combining it into one logical statement. IFTTT also only checks the readings from external services every 15 minutes, making it unsuitable for rapidly changing data. Finally, there do seem to be a few bugs, the hex colour does not seem to create a direct match to the Hue light, so a few tweaks are required to gain the correct colour output.

Ships Lamp Coloured by Temperature and IFTTT

Ships Lamp Coloured by Temperature and IFTTT

Despite a few limitations it does open up a number of possibilities, the next steps are to look into how to link in other data feeds. This is arguably where the power of IFTTT comes into play, its ability to link a number of services and then control external hardware makes it a perfect opening into linking data to the Internet of Things.

The whole system could arguably be built using an Arduino  board / Raspberry Pi linked to LED’s at a much lower cost. The linking of consumer grade units to data is however perhaps a step towards smart objects for everyone. The whole set up took  under two hours to get up and running, including the setting up of the IFTTT recipes and linking to the Philips Hue. Edit (20/2/2014) – the light is now installed inside an old Ships Lamp with the colour changing according to the outside temperature.

It is probably a niche market, but the linking of data to lighting is an intriguing development. From making the lights blink when carbon dioxide levels in the office rise through to changing colours according to a twitter or rss feed, we are excited by the possibilities.

The web based weather dashboard can be viewed at http://www.casa.ucl.ac.uk/weather/colours.html data updates every 3 seconds. We will be mounting the ‘weather bulb’ in a small globe and placing it in the corner of the office. The Philips Hue starter pack comes with three bulbs, 50 lights can be linked to each bridge. With the ability to link each bulb, or a group of bulbs, to almost any data feed, the office is about to become a colourful place…

 

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IFTTT, Netatmo & Philips Hue: Linking Data to Lighting Print E-mail
Sunday, 02 February 2014 04:34

Here at The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis we run a simple dashboard view of the weather in London. The background of the dashboard changes colour to a variety of pantone shades according to temperature. Via our CEDE project we are starting to experiment with the Philips Hue Wifi Lighting System. With the ability to connect the bulbs to a network and select colours according to a hex colour –  the logical link was to link the bulbs to the weather data, allowing the lighting to change according to the external temperature and in sync with the web dashboard.

Philips Hue

Philips Hue

Once the bulbs are connected to the network there are a variety of third party services that can be used to control the bulbs, either as a group or individually. One of our current favourites here at CASA is IF This Then That (IFTTT), IFTTT is a service that allows the creation of simple ‘recipes’, linking popular online systems via a series of rules. Among the services linked on IFTTT is the Netatmo Weather Station and the Philips Hue.

Netatmo Weather Station

Netatmo Weather Station

We are using the Netatmo in CASA as part of our forthcoming office data dashboard, it monitors internal temperature, humidity, sound levels and carbon dioxide with an external unit providing temperature and humidity readings.

Colour Range

Colour Range

Our Colours Weather Dashboard changes its background every 5 degrees centigrade, as such via IFTTT it is possible to create a series of recipes using the same colour range and link it to a temperature reading from the external Netatmo unit.

If This Then That Recipes

If This Then That Recipes

Temperature Controlled Bulb

Temperature Controlled Bulb

IFTTT is an emerging service, as such it does have a number of limitations. We had to create a recipe for each temperature change, rather than combining it into one logical statement. IFTTT also only checks the readings from external services every 15 minutes, making it unsuitable for rapidly changing data. Finally, there do seem to be a few bugs, the hex colour does not seem to create a direct match to the Hue light, so a few tweaks are required to gain the correct colour output.

Despite a few limitations it does open up a number of possibilities, the next steps are to look into how to link in other data feeds. This is arguably where the power of IFTTT comes into play, its ability to link a number of services and then control external hardware makes it a perfect opening into linking data to the Internet of Things.

The whole system could arguably be built using an Arduino  board / Raspberry Pi linked to LED’s at a much lower cost. The linking of consumer grade units to data is however perhaps a step towards smart objects for everyone. The whole set up took  under two hours to get up and running, including the setting up of the IFTTT recipes and linking to the Philips Hue.

It is probably a niche market, but the linking of data to lighting is an intriguing development. From making the lights blink when carbon dioxide levels in the office rise through to changing colours according to a twitter or rss feed, we are excited by the possibilities.

The web based weather dashboard can be viewed at http://www.casa.ucl.ac.uk/weather/colours.html data updates every 3 seconds. We will be mounting the ‘weather bulb’ in a small globe and placing it in the corner of the office. The Philips Hue starter pack comes with three bulbs, 50 lights can be linked to each bridge. With the ability to link each bulb, or a group of bulbs, to almost any data feed, the office is about to become a colourful place…

 

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Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year (Movie) Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 December 2013 03:30

2013 has been quite a year for research  - the Smart/Future Cities discussion has moved forward with a notable pace, new setups such as the Future Cities Catapult  and the Smart London Report from the GLA are starting to drive the uptake. It has been a year of research around cities with multiple new grants, awards and PhD funding at The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (home of digitalurban).

UCL Quad in the Snow London 2050

UCL Quad in the Snow London 2050

Of note in the literature is Mike Batty’s new book on The Science of Cities along with new papers in the CASA Working Paper Series – now up to number 194 and all available to download. We have launched a new MSc in Smart Cities and Urban Analytics as well as an MRes in Smart Cities to run along side the current MRes in Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualisation, opening up a number of new routes to gain a Masters Degree at CASA. As a note to the season, our Christmas Movie is below:

2014 brings with it teaching of the Occulus Rift Virtual Reality Headset on our Masters courses, new research into the emotions of cities and a continuation of everything cities at CASA – from all @CASA and @digitalurban have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year….

 

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