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Mathematics and Computer Science

Array of Things

First at-scale research infrastructure deployment enabling researchers to study an urban environment

The Array of things (AoT) is an urban sensing project involving collaboration of the Computation Institute, the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As part of the project team, a network of interactive, modular sensor boxes is being installed around Chicago to collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and activity.

The project recently received a $3.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support the development and installation of 500 sensor nodes. The nodes will initially measure factors such as barometric pressure, light, carbon monoxide, ambient sound, and temperature. Continued research and development will help create sensors to monitor other urban factors of interest such as flooding, precipitation, wind, and pollutants.

The data will be used by researchers to investigate solutions to a range of urban challenges, such as air quality. The data also will be available to the public, free of charge. through the city of Chicago’s open data network and a web-based data portal.

The project is led by Charlie Catlett, a senior computer scientist in Argonne’s Mathematics and Computer Science (MCS) Division and director of the Computation Institute’s Urban Center for Computation and Data.

The Array of Things is part of the new Smart Cities Initiative, announced by the White House, to help communities tackle local challenges and improve city services. The Array of Things will be the first at-scale research infrastructure deployment enabling researchers to study an urban environment.