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Chicago Moves Forward with Big Data Sensors

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A series of sensors will be installed on light poles in a downtown Chicago district later this summer. According to the Chicago Tribune, the data-collection sensors will measure air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat, precipitation, wind, and get a tentative count of people by measuring wireless device signals. 

Researchers have dubbed their effort the "Array of Things" project. Gathering and publishing such a broad swath of data will give scientists the tools to make Chicago a safer, more efficient and cleaner place to live, said Catlett, director of the Urban Center for Computation and Data, part of a joint initiative between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, near Lemont.

The initiative is raising a lot of privacy concerns, particularly with respect to accessing individual's wireless devices. But in addition to allowing a deeper understanding of the city, scientists hope that the initiative will help to attract more technological research.

City officials don't have firm expectations about what the data may yield but share researchers' desire to push "Chicago as a test bed of urban analytical research," said Brenna Berman, the city's commissioner of information and technology. "Part of why this is so exciting is a lot of the analytics we do is targeted to a specific problem, and this is more general."

You can read more about the initiative in the Chicago Tribune article.

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