How can connected homes contribute to a healthier neighborhood, and how can it offer residents a better ambient understanding of what's happening in the neighborhood?
When connected homes are networked together, we may see tremendous potential to improve the neighborhood they're in. Here we outline some ideas.
Increasing ambient awareness
What kind of information and data about a neighborhood would be useful for residents? Traffic, crime statistics, peaks and valleys of energy consumption? Increase and decrease in the flow of people in the streets? Sharp changes in the number of tweets sent or photos shared online? Local weather data like temperature changes and rainfall?
How can we communicate these types of data in an ambient way without the blunt instrument of screens? How about ambient sounds like birdsong, glowing lights, water sloshing in a tank, a Tempescope1, a Good Night Lamp2, a fan spinning faster, a cuckoo clock, or a vibration3 through jewelry or the park bench?
What are the most useful, least intrusive models of notification? Should these alerts—be they ever so subtle—be sent when something changes (state change), when something is wrong (alert) or continues to be ok (affirmation), when certain milestones are reached (positive notification), or continuously as an ongoing background ambient awareness system (monitoring)?
Connected homes could contribute to larger systems in the neighborhood and offer ambient ways of monitoring the neighborhood's health.
Contributing data to the commons
What types of data are useful and safe to share with the neighborhood and the city beyond? What services can be built on top of data like that to save energy, reduce waste, increase production of energy, enable more rich social interactions?
What levels of community data are there (building, street, neighborhood, postal code...) and what frameworks would be most appropriate to apply?
We need to figure out models to use community and neighborhood data in a way where neighbors are empowered to collect and use this data and better services can be built with them, keeping privacy and security, as well as inclusivity and diversity in mind?
Applying to retail and commercial use
Traditionally, private business has been data savvy in terms of value extraction and creation. There is huge potential value for retail and commercial uses of data from homes, buildings, and neighborhoods.
What kinds of services improve lives of citizens, visitors, and other stakeholders in the neighborhood? What kind of obligations should be tied to using these types of data commercially? What does that mean for transparency, APIs, licensing, policy and political work?
Fostering stronger social relationships
How can connected homes and the data systems surrounding them help residents have a richer social life? Can residents be empowered to more easily meet or help each other, or to resolve problems or social tensions? Can it be a tool for networked social action and participation?
1. The Tempescope is a connected object that sits on your shelf and creates a contained weather environment. It can read weather conditions and forecasts from the internet and generate that environment within the object, complete with clouds, lightning and more: tempescope.com ↩
2. Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino's Good Night Lamp is a family of lamps set up in different locations: If the larger lamp is turned on, it will signal to the smaller lamps to turn on as well. They are beautiful objects that send an ambient social signal: goodnightlamp.com ↩
3. What information these various vibrations could best convey is still somewhat uncharted territory, but Iskander Smit has done some thoughtful research and design dismystifying vibration notifications, including the dimensions and range of these signals as well as what parts of the body or environment would convey what kind of information: medium.com/the-startup-magazine-collection/design-for-timely-interactions-b7d7b3ef5d50 ↩