Archived entries for Introduction to Computational Media

Energy Informatics

The city breathes information and consumes energy. Visualizing this relationship enhances interaction with the urban environment and is the goal of this final project for Introduction to Computational Media. Developed in collaboration with the Sustainability Task Force and Facilities & Construction Management, Energy Informatics displays patterns of energy consumption across a selection of NYU residence halls.

Broome Hall Visualization

I’m pleased with the progress made so far. It’s exciting to see this series begin to take shape. Still, there is more to be done to make this as useful and interesting as it could be. First of all, I’d like to parse the text to include date and time information. Second, it would be good if the image itself could also change in correspondence with day and night. Here is the project in its present form, along with source code.

Palladium Hall Visualization

Thanks to Dan Shiffman for providing guidance throughout the project; Tom Igoe, for connecting me with the appropriate resources; Jonah “Cecil” Scheib, Director of Energy and Sustainability for the Division of Facilities & Construction Management; and Jeremy Friedman, Project Administrator of the NYU Sustainability Task Force.

Goddard Hall Visualization

Urban Infrastructural Data Visualization


The city breathes information and consumes energy. Visualizing this relationship enhances interaction with the urban environment and is the goal of this project. Specifically, I would like to show how much energy an individual building is consuming at any given time.

I’m interested in exploring this area of research for a couple of reasons. First, I’m aesthetically interested in making visible the invisible qualities of our built environment. Second, as we become increasingly aware of the limitations of our resources and alternatives become necessary, the ability to monitor something like electrical load helps us to adjust behavior accordingly. While still in its early stages, urban data on everything from subway tracking, traffic congestion, open wireless networks, and building information should be made publicly available and easily accessible. This is a burgeoning area of research with titles like Marcus Foth’s Urban Informatics recently published.

New York Traffic

The challenge is getting access to this information, often residing behind walls of bureaucracy. The problem is not that it doesn’t exist, but that we’re moving toward a level of openness that can make larger institutions uncomfortable. Some, however, have embraced this opportunity for greater transparency and are seeking ways to make data available. NYU has demonstrated initiative in a recent study of building performance that compares the energy consumption of its residence halls. Still, these graphs aren’t live, nor are they particularly interesting to look at.

Peak Consumption Graph

What if we could combine urban landscape photography with a network of sensor data—like that being pioneered by Pachube—on a systemic level to make information available to people at any time? This is the direction I’m moving in.

Arduino and Processing, Together At Last

Serial Communication Graph

At this point in the semester, the things we’re learning in Physical Computing and the things we’re learning in Introduction to Computational Media are beginning to converge. In this lab, the Processing window is graphing the resistance of a potentiometer connected to my Arduino board. While insignificant in and of itself, this means we’re now combining sensor input from the outside with both gesture and visualization. More to follow . . .

Circles Intersecting

Circles Intersecting Screen Shot

Little by little, programming is making sense to me. Here is the interactive version of last week’s sketch, all of which are archived here.

First Processing Sketch

Subscribe via RSS. Process is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States license.

This blog is powered by WordPress and based on Modern Clix. Web hosting by Media Temple.