Author | Eduardo BravoHow can a smart city be planned? Until now, this rather tedious task was carried out without prior preparation, based on events that had occurred and external experiences. But a more efficient mathematical approach can also be used. Arthur is an algorithm created by the Spanish studio 300.000 Km/s to improve the habitability of cities and optimise urban planning interventions, which works by collecting citizens’ opinions of the environment in which they live.When it comes to planning a city, public Administrations and technicians turn to urban planning. This discipline uses diverse parameters related to human settlements, the particular features of the land, municipal regulations and other more or less objective data. However, some of these ideas, devised in offices located far from the sites on which they are going to be implemented, do not necessarily meet the requirements or tastes of the people that live or will live in these places.Therefore, those responsible for designing urban settings, have started to incorporate a criterion into city planning which, although more subjective and unpredictable, is more closely in tune with citizens’ requirements: habitability.Although it is not easy to define “habitability”, it is possible to determine some characteristics such as that it must be inclusive in order to accommodate all citizens or it must be fair, offering equal opportunities and paying close attention to more socially disadvantaged people. Furthermore, it must be environmentally-friendly in order to guarantee not only the city’s existence, but also that of its areas of influence.However, the fact that habitability depends on the perception of inhabitants, makes it very difficult to give just a single answer to apparently simple questions. For example: What makes a particular street more appealing to live in than another?Being aware of the need to define these details, back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, French situationists implemented what they called “drifts”. Different people would wander along randomly selected urban areas recording their routes on a map and the results were then shared with all the participants. These “drifts” led to what Guy Debord called psychogeography, a concept that seeks to determine the effects of urban geography on the emotions and behaviours of individuals.This idea, thought up by the situationists, is the one which, more than three decades later, has inspired Arturo, an artificial intelligence project, which, based on citizen perceptions of the environments in which they live, aims to create more habitable cities, in accordance with human requirements and to help Administrations optimise aspects such as population density, public space requirements in neighbourhoods or infrastructures that need to be built in these.
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