SciViz Photos and Design Expo Presentation

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Yesterday I needed a dozen (or so) photos from around Manhattan for my first project in SciViz, so I took a bunch on my short walk into school from Washington Square Village. A few of the more interesting shots from that series:



Looking up

That’s a view from my balcony, a look across the park to the other WSV building, and a view up from the plaza by the NYU business school — respectively.

Enough of that goofiness. Let’s get to some meat.

Design Expo

So we had to come up with three genius ideas to present in front of class today. Ran, Dan, Steven, Tikva, and I spent over ten hours, I think, in discussion over this. And here’s what we came up with (more-or-less copied right out of our presentation slides):

1. Traffic “Load Balancing”: A system to automatically route traffic to ease traffic jams and avoid problem areas. Imagine: It’s rush hour and I’m driving to lower Manhattan from Brooklyn to my office. So I plug in my destination and my car communicates with a master traffic control system to find the best route for me to take to save me and and to ease traffic congestion all over by “load balancing” traffic across different roads, bridges, etc. It also avoids accidents and other problems automatically. It sends me back driving instructions. During high traffic times, I must follow these or risk a fine for deviating (like one might today risk a fine for driving in a hi-occupancy lane alone). Overall, everyone in the city has faster and easier commutes… Got it?

Genius, right?

2. Collective “Minor Crime Event” Reportage: A flurry of “minor crime event” flags from people in an area causes a police officer to come out and stand there as a deterrent to potential crimes. Someone’s snooping around in my trash at night. It’s not a big deal, but it’s weird. So I fire of a “minor crime event” message to the cops. If this guy’s rooting around in my neighbor’s trash, as well, or looking in windows, maybe they’ll also fire off a “minor crime event” message. Enough of us do this, and a cop shows up and drives down the street a few times. And the suspicious guys wanders away and leaves the block alone. Success! Or: If our neighborhood has a continuous stream of these “minor crime event” messages going to the cops over a few weeks, the cops might respond by sending an officer through periodically as a deterrent and just to help keep an eye on things.

Big brother, right? That seemed to be our theme. (We actually only presented these two in class.)

3. Organized Micro-Volunteering: Allows groups of untrained people with small offerings ˝ a single bed, a car, a few cans of food ˝ to coordinate and participate in emergency relief. “A hurricane just wiped out Miami. I’m in Orlando. I’ve got a free bed, a good car, $100 I’d like to donate, and twenty loaves of bread. I’m not trained in emergency relief. How do I help?” I register with a system and enter what I’m willing to offer and a system aggregates this for all people who decide to participate and sends back custom detailed instructions that do not require training to interpret to me: “Drive to a point six miles out of town and drop off your goods. Go to a specific address and pick up these two people and drive them to your house in Orlando.” Now, imagine 50,000 people participate.

Bam. So there you have it. Three billion-dollar ideas. Right here. For you.

We were assigned new groups for the coming week. Now I’ll be working with Gilad, Chris P., Max/Min, and Myra.