CASA colleague Steven James Gray used the API from CityDashboard, which I created early last year by aggregating various free London-centric data feeds into a single webpage, to power the data for a 4×3 array of iPads, mounted in a wooden panel, itself iPad-esque in shape. The “iPad wall” was mounted in the Mayor of London’s private office high up in City Hall, so that the mayor, Boris Johnson, can look over the capital digitally as well as physically. The idea of having the digital view directly adjacent to the physical view was also captured in the fleeting but beautiful Prism exhibition by Keiichi Matsuda at the V&A, another use of the CityDashboard API.
Today the BBC has picked up on the iPad wall and featured it as London’s example of emerging smart city technology. Scrolling down the article reveals it in all its glory. It’s somewhat flattering for the iPad wall and CityDashboard to be included this way, seeing as it’s just a number of HTML scrapes regularly running from various webpages, bundled together with pretty colours. The concept only works because of the many London-centric organisations that make their data available for reuse like this, not least Transport for London. It’s not going to change the way London operates like grander Smart City ideas might, but crucially it’s already out there. The BBC emphasises that it’s cheaper than Rio’s (well, yes, because the physical bit was built in CASA on a cost-of-materials basis, as part of a UCL Enterprise grant) and that it’s available to all, not just the Mayor. Almost true – CityDashboard doesn’t quite look like the physical iPad wall, but I’m minded to tweak the design and produce a version that does.
Anyway nice to know, via the BBC, that the wall is running and the data is ticking. The Mayor of London’s team can change the content on a number of the panels to show their own custom statistics. I was pleased to see, looking carefully at the photo in the article, that my Bike Sharing Map also makes an appearance.